Minister Ken Wyatt is encouraging indigenous people to consider a career in aged care, not only for the opportunities it presents but to help change the way in which society regards elderly citizens.

“I hope to leave a legacy where Australians look at their ageing mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers and great uncles and aunties as still being a source of value for guidance, for wisdom and for support,” he said in an interview with the National Indigenous Times.

“We come from a cultural background where we respect our elders and we listen to our elders and we acknowledge them because they are the ones who open doors; they have given us their advice and it has helped shape and maintain our communities for more than 40,000 years, in some places 60,000 years.”

“I want to see what I see in other countries. When I go to South East Asia, I don’t see old people in retirement villages – I see them active. I still see families surrounding them. And I still see the contribution they make to their community and to the economy of their country.”

“If my mum and dad were alive, I would have made sure (that) between my brothers and sisters we kept them active, kept them alive and kept them telling us the stories they would share with us, telling us about what happened when they were younger.”

The Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health said he hopes to leave lasting legacies in both portfolios.

“I want to try to encourage young Aboriginal people to think about becoming workers within aged care… Aged care is a great place to get into – it’s a great way of caring for people who need that level of care.”

 

He also hopes that businesses will place a higher value on older workers, referencing staffing arrangements at Bunnings where older people work closely with younger people as great example of sharing knowledge and skills.

 

“There are some great examples where you can employ people across the continuum. I’ve had people say ‘If you keep older people working, it means younger people won’t get jobs’, but I think the future is changing rapidly. There will be different opportunities.”