Aged care usage by population

Any implementation activities in aged care should consider the diversity of the Australian population and how the characteristics and contexts of care will influence ability to be implemented and outcomes form the implementation.

Australia's population is rapidly ageing, with 17.2 per cent of the population aged 65 years or over. [1] It is also diverse in terms of different social and ethnic backgrounds, as well as different genders, sexual orientations, and life experiences.

The Australian Census provides a picture of Australia’s economic, social, and cultural make-up. In 2021, it was found that people who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander make up approximately 1.1 per cent of older Australians. In addition, more than one in three older Australians come from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, and 1.9 per cent are themselves born overseas. [2]

Aged care services provide support to a large and growing number of older Australians. These services range from assistance to help older people to remain independent at home through to full-time care in a residential aged care facility. However, there are indications that the patterns of aged care service use can vary reflecting government policies, changing community perceptions, and incidental or systemic inequities. [3-4]

Why are diversity and inclusion important?

Understanding how different groups of older Australians access, or do not use, aged care services can highlight issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Older Australians are protected against discrimination by multiple Federal laws. The Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 is general legislation that covers the rights and freedoms of everyone who lives in Australia. The Aged Care Act 1997 notes that older people with diverse backgrounds have their rights protected while receiving aged care. 
Older peoples’ rights are protected by other legislation such as the Age Discrimination Act 2004 or the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. People from cultural backgrounds are protected by the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, making it illegal for a person to discriminate against you based on your race. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 is additional legislation that protects against discrimination based on gender with new protections in 2013 covering discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

Quality Standards

Standard 1 of the of the Aged Care Quality Standards deals with Consumer Dignity and Respect. It requires providers to treat all aged care recipients with dignity and respect and is a foundational standard for the remaining standards.

The Aged Care Diversity Framework sets out actions that need to be taken to ensure aged care services meet the needs of people from diverse backgrounds. The Aged Care Diversity Framework action plans  support the Framework and help aged care service providers and older people address barriers faced by older:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, and intersex (LGBTIQ+) people
  1. .idcommunity Australia: Five year age groups [Internet]. Australia: .idcommunity; 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available from:
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Snapshot of Australia: A picture of the economic, social and cultural make-up of Australia on census night, 10 August 2021 [Internet]. Australia: ABS; 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 8]. Available at
  3. Khadka J, Lang C, Ratcliffe J, Corlis M, Wesselingh S, Whitehead C. et al. Trends in the utilisation of aged care services in Australia, 2008–2016. BMC Geriatr. 2019 Aug 6;19,213.
  4. Pearson (Eastern Kuku-Yalanji and Torres Strait Islander), O., Air, T., Humphrey, G., Bradley, C., Tunny, N., Brown (Yuin Nation), A., Wesselingh, S.L., Inacio, M.C. and Caughey, G.E. (2024), Aged care service use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people after aged care eligibility assessments, 2017–2019: a population-based retrospective cohort study. Med J Aust, 221: 31-38.

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