The first day of hearings for the Royal Commission in Darwin began powerfully; with an Aboriginal elder begging for services to be delivered closer to her community.
Mildred Numamurdirdi is a traditional custodian from Numbulwar, a small rural community of 1000 people, in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Mildred today told the commission she was first sent to Darwin in March 2018 when she contracted pneumonia. The hospital told her she was too unwell to go back to Numbulwar where there are no aged care services except for in-home services such as Meals on Wheels that are delivered by the local council.
Once discharged from hospital she was sent to an aged care home in Darwin, the closest to her community but still 800km away.
Mildred spoke of her heartbreak at being isolated from her community and crying for four weeks straight at being separated from her family.
“It’s too far for my family and friends to come travel and visit me. I’m separated from my daughter and my grandson.”
Asking the Commission to please deliver services closer to rural communities, Mildred said, “My heart is crying because I’m so far away from my family.”
Mildred’s story is just one of many, with 40% of Australians in the 70 to 74 year age bracket living outside Australia’s capital cities.
Should senior Australians need to access services, there is then the associated time and cost associated with travelling which in turn can prove stressful on those with ailing health.
There are plans for construction of an aged care facility in the remote Northern Territory town of Nhulunbuy to begin next year. According to East Arnhem Land’s Eddie Mulholland, the chief executive of Miwatj Health, the plans have been discussed for 13 years.
Today the Commission will also hear from a range of Chief Executives of Aboriginal health organisations who deliver services in Darwin, Cairns and the Northern Territory.
This story first appeared on the ABC.