Name: Elaine M
Age at interview: 60
Elaine is a Warramiri woman from Mata Mata. She lives in a remote community in Northeast Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Elaine is 60 years old, she has three children and 11 grandchildren. She lives at home with her family of 10. She worked as a teacher for 21 years and now works as a researcher on various health projects.
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More about Elaine M
Elaine describes gaining a deeper understanding and knowledge as she gets older. She is proud to be an older woman and is looking forward to getting white hair, which symbolizes knowledge, leadership and respect. She is respected as an elder because her father was a leader, she speaks with authority from her mother's clan and she also works in health research. She wants to stay strong as she ages, both physically and as a leader in her community.
Elaine feels it is important to guide her grandchildren in the right way, so they can be strong. While Elaine feels she is respected by her family, she is concerned that compared with the Mission days when Yolngu people were eating bush food, did lots of walking and were expected to care for their elders, now older people are still expected to look after their grandchildren well into their old age.
Elaine is looking forward to a quieter life as she gets older. She is hoping to be able to live in a house where she can relax, somewhere that is quiet, and where she is not responsible for cleaning and taking care of a large family. Elaine explains that overcrowding in her house causes her stress and impacts on her health.
There are aged care services in the community which provide respite during the day, however, Elaine is hoping there will be more Government support for housing older people in residential care. She feels it is important to have residential care within the community and not to remove older people to the city to be cared for by white people, where they have no family, and simply go to die.
If residential services were available in the community young Yolngu people could bring the older people bush food, they could dance for them and share stories. Elaine says this heals the mind and brings their strength back. Elaine stresses the importance of Yolngu (Aboriginal) and Balanda (white people) working together in aged care services. It is important that Yolngu care for each other, which involves going out into the bush, being with nature and being on the land. These acts help older people to feel comfortable, to maintain their authority and identity and therefore their health.