Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders


Exploring the ways art centres in remote communities can link older Aboriginal people to services under consumer directed care.

The results will provide the government with a model which can be readily translated to approximately 90 art centres in remote community settings where Aboriginal people aged over 55 years comprise around 30% of the artist population. Anecdotally art centres help Aboriginal people living with dementia and other conditions associated with ageing, but integration into the service system has not been explored to date. The prevalence of dementia in remote communities is up to five times higher than the general population and there is limited choice in health and support services. The project will be the first of its kind.

This project is a partnership between NARI, Flinders University, University of Western Australia, the NPY Womens Council, Mangaka Arts, Ikuntji Artists and Kimberley Aged and Community Services.

Further information from: Paulene Mackell: p.mackell@nari.edu.au

Aboriginal art centres, a support for people with dementia?

For Aboriginal people painting one’s country plays a significant cultural role. It involves exercising one’s specific rights, and responsibilities, both cultural and ceremonial, to the management of Ngurra (country). Art centres play a crucial role in providing an inclusive place for older people to share their cultural knowledge with younger generations and the non-Indigenous community, unite the community and provide an opportunity to generate an income.

Earlier this year, NARI received a small grant from the Centre for Remote Health to ascertain what the literature can tell us about how Aboriginal people, living in remote areas, with dementia, are supported by their local art centre.
The review completed by NARI and Flinders University suggests there is an opportunity to explore if arts centres are or could be providing a strengths based and culturally appropriate model of care, in remote settings, where access to healthcare is poorer than urban or regional areas.

The review also showed there is nothing published about how older users with dementia interact with art centres, however, it did indicate that art centres play a key role in maintaining traditions, culture, and practices unique to Indigenous Australians. In turn strengthening a sense of cultural identity, belonging and health for the artists.

Further research is required to address this gap in knowledge.

Aboriginal Art Centres - a support for dementia?