The Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES) was established due to the tireless work of the late Aunty Iris Lovett Gardiner and other elders both past and present. They were concerned that elders were dying in mainstream nursing homes without any Aboriginal cultural practices being observed.
“I had the idea of having a place, a hostel, for Aboriginal Elders I was tired of our people dying in rooming houses and all sorts of places because they had nobody and they were sick. A woman who I really liked and who used to come to all our concerts, she died in an institution and we didn’t even know she’d died until a fortnight after she was buried. I thought, “That’s it. We should make somewhere where we can keep the Elders under our eyes”…Aunty Iris Lovett Gardiner
Initially, volunteers were assisted by the support of existing Aboriginal community organisations such as the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and the Aborigines Advancement League. They provided the Elders a project worker. Once ACES became incorporated it was eligible to receive funding and it set up a twenty five bed hostel, which was named the Iris Lovett Gardiner Aboriginal Elders Caring Place. It opened its doors at 5 Parkview Avenue, East Brunswick in 1991.
Today ACES is still honouring that vision with several services on offer and volunteering opportunities within the Residential Care Services, Koori Community Aged Care Program and our HACC Planned Activity Group, one current volunteer described her experience upon starting with ACES,
“I did not know what to expect when I first entered the ACES office. The staff were lovely but I wondered whether I would be able to engage meaningfully with the elders who live there.”
Thanks in large part to the residents and staff who look after them, I was able to settle in quite quickly. I found that by simply listening to people’s stories and having a genuine curiosity about their lives was welcomed and appreciated. After just two visits I found that leaving at the end of my volunteering shift was something I wished to postpone. Be it playing bingo, a game of balloon volleyball or watching them colour in some shamrocks on St Patrick’s Day, there was never a dull moment. Each and every minute that I spent in ACES makes me want to do more to help people and become a better person. I’m grateful to be an ACES volunteer and touched to be a part of the residents’ lives just like they are of mine.”
If you are interested in volunteering, come along and join a friendly and interesting cultural environment. Meet people and make new friends. ACES would love even more volunteers to come along. If you are interested in joining this diverse and valuable team please contact Fiona Seeney on Monday or Tuesday.
Fiona Seeney, Program Coordinator
Aboriginal Community Elders Services
5 Parkview Avenue
Brunswick East 3057
Telephone: 03 9383 4244
Facsimile: 03 9384 1532