Waltja Directors care a lot about keeping old people strong and safe. In 1998, Waltja ran the first Aged and Disability Festival at Town Bore. Since then, services and programs for old people have been an important part of our work. This work is funded through income Waltja earns through our social enterprise Tjukurrpa Tjutangku.
Waltja’s caring for elders work has a new name Tjilpi Wulkumanu Yantayantalpayi. This means literally “old men, old women, caring for; looking after; providing comfort, protection and food for another” or “caring for old people”. Hannah Hueneke has been the main Waltja worker for our Caring for Elders project, with help from Iria Kuen, Christine Armstrong and Sonja Dare.
There have been many community visits this year to support old people. It is really important to old people to be able to go out bush together and also with young people. They want to share their stories on country. Waltja listened to what people want and then organised bush trips and workshops. Waltja also distributed blankets and second-hand warm clothes at the beginning of winter to help old people keep warm and healthy.
In May 2014, an aged care workshop was held at Five Mile near Papunya. Over 25 older people took part. They went on country to collect bush tucker, cooked damper, told stories and laughed a lot. The Alice Springs Beanie Festival donated beanies for everyone and MacDonnell Regional Council Homecare supplied lunches. Everyone had a great time.
In Aug 2013, Waltja ran a Seniors Month event at Willowra, with help of a $2000 grant from the NT Government. Twenty people including grandmothers and young mums and babies went on a day trip together to Lander River. Young children learned songs from their grandmothers. They walked together on country, and cooked a healthy lunch using flour drum stoves.
On trips, Waltja workers often buy painted bead and seed necklaces from enterprising older ladies. These necklaces are then sold through Tjukurpa Tjutangku.
- There is a lot of work that needs to be done to support old people in communities, but there is little funding available for this.
- In some communities there are no aged care services and Waltja tries to fill the gap, but only has one part-time worker.
- There is no special funding available for making changes that people need in their houses when they get older, such as fitting rails in the bathroom.