A good news story

Art Centres – Supporting our Elders is a study exploring the ways in which three Aboriginal community controlled art centres are supporting older people and those living with dementia in remote communities. The centres are:

  • Ikuntji Artists located in Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory
  • Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency in Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia
  • Tjanpi Desert Weavers – NPY Women’s Council located in the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Lands of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

We have learnt that art centres are critical to their communities. They are valued by older and younger people, as well as arts and aged care workers. They are often described as safe places that facilitate social connection, cultural maintenance and the transfer of knowledge and culture to younger generations within their communities.

We have also learnt that the centres provide:

  • Advocacy
  • Social, emotional and physical care
  • A valuable source of income for artists and their families.

Importantly, the study highlights that Elders are the backbone of these centres and play a critical role in maintaining intergenerational connection.

Many art centres are already working with their local aged care providers and our partners have been considering ways these collaborations could be enhanced to sustain the wellbeing of Elders and younger generations alike.

We have developed several short films to share the story of how the art centres support their Elders. We have also developed a booklet about the project and its outcomes. These resources showcase the importance of centralising the cultural determinants of health. They highlight the benefits for older and younger people, as well as for staff, when aged care providers and art centres collaborate.

This project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. NARI conducted the research in collaboration with Ikuntji Artists, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency, Tjanpi Desert Weavers – NPY Women’s Council, Flinders University, The University of Western Australia, Tjungu Aged and Disability Team – NPY Women’s Council and Kimberley Aged Care Services.

Art Centres Supporting our elders partner logos

Photo: Margaret Smith and Julie Anderson; Tjanpi Desert Weavers