“Our Elders were also a big concern as they are very vulnerable, being at a high risk of the virus and we have a cultural responsibility to them apart from everything else,” Karla Brady, CEO of Inala Wangarra said.”
“I hadn’t realised how vulnerable some of these Elders were in terms of food security and they don’t have access to other meal delivery services e.g. meals on wheels as they have to pay for those unless on Aged Care package but the Inala area hasn’t received any Aged Care packages in the last 5 years. Some Elders do get ‘Second-Bite’ a Coles food delivery service which is great and we can use some of that for the prepared Elders meals.
“Our playgroup co-ordinator, a local Aboriginal Mum of 7 kids, she and her husband had just bought a house and I was really conscious that they could lose income but in her prior life she was a caterer so we were able to utilise her other skills-set and she became our Cook for our Elders meals and she loves it. One week in a fortnight she makes up the 30 Jarjums (children’s) activity kits and the alternate week she cooks 10 freezer-friendly meals each for about 15 to 20 Elders. They are traditional meals that the Elders enjoy. One of the Elders wept when they had one of the stews as it reminded her of what her Mum used to make.
“Our Elders know they need to be isolated but when they see you (dropping off food) they want you to come in or give you a hug and we are trying to be respectful because we have a cultural responsibility but we need to respect their health vulnerabilities. We have to say I can’t really come in Uncle, we need to keep you healthy and then we might get someone to give them a call on the phone. In normal times, part of every staff members work plan is to do weekly or daily check ins with Elders.
“We have an Aunties & Uncles programs where we used to match community Aunties and Uncles with children in care so they could stay connected to the community and some of them are now Wangarra pen pals so we have some of those participants being taken by their Aunties/ mentors doing fence line conversations with the Elders because they wanted to meet them.
“One child with significant physical disability who is in care, we matched him with Uncle Albert Holt who has been receiving lots of letters from the child and they really wanted to meet. So, we bought Uncle a coffee and took a little kid’s chair that we had so they could sit and talk together over the fence. So, we look for opportunities to engage the Elders during normal times and so it is quite natural to look for ways to engage Elders during this time.
“I speak often about the deficit rule and ‘close the gap’ and that media are only going to report on how we haven’t reached the right mortality or school attendance rate. When you only look at a situation from a perspective of deficit and always starting from a deficit, you miss opportunities because you’ve already under-estimated the people at the heart of the situation.