Residential aged care in the Torres Strait has taken a major step forward with the official opening today of a new, purpose-built building at Blue Care Star of the Sea Elders Village on Thursday Island.
Up to 38 senior Indigenous people will receive specialist, culturally appropriate care in the new, air-conditioned building.
There is also provision to provide accommodation for homeless people.
The Uniting Church, who operates Blue Care Star of the Sea, received more than $19 million from the Australian Government to extend, upgrade and refurbish the facility.
It is the largest grant ever provided from the government’s Rural, Regional and Other Special Needs Building Fund for Aged Care.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said Blue Care Star of the Sea Elders Village was the only residential aged care service in the Torres Strait.
He said the federal government’s investment in Blue Care Star of the Sea would enable it to continue to provide culturally appropriate care for elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This project has been something I have been extremely passionate about and it is warming to see our indigenous elders finally have access to the best care possible,” Mr Entsch said.
“I spearheaded the campaign, along with Sue Boysen, to secure this much-needed funding to upgrade what was then a totally inappropriate facility.
“One design aspect I said was non-negotiable was residents must have access to the sea and I am glad this was incorporated in the final design.
“This project is something I am extremely proud to have delivered.
“This new building will enable the dedicated staff of Blue Care Star of the Sea to continue providing physical, emotional and spiritual support to people from Thursday Island and the Torres Strait.
“This is about listening, acting and delivering for the Torres Strait community.”
Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt AM welcomed the opening of the new facility
“The Morrison Government also provided an additional $5.8 million to assist with the construction of 24 one-bedroom units to accommodate aged care staff,” Mr Wyatt said.
“Blue Care Star of the Sea is providing a much needed service to people in the Torres Strait.
“It is important senior Australians can receive quality aged care close to their communities, no matter where they live across this wide land.
“As well as a comfortable room and pleasant surroundings, residents will receive care that is non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate, especially elderly Indigenous Australians who are among our most vulnerable citizens.”
In 2017–18, Blue Care Star of the Sea Elders Village also received $2.4 million in operational funding from the Morrison Government.