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Keywords:

  • community;
  • culture;
  • identity;
  • kinship;
  • knowledge;
  • older Indigenous Australians;
  • respect

This review explores the social and cultural roles played by older Indigenous Australians within their communities. In the absence of a body of conventional academic literature on this topic, we used a broad range of sources including stories, articles, videos, and other narratives to present the lived experiences of older Indigenous Australians illustrated in their own words. The intention is to move beyond the usual negative focus of reporting the significant health and social problems experienced by older Indigenous Australians, whilst still recognising that their present-day roles within the society have to be understood against a backdrop of such lifetime disadvantage. The major underlying theme of this review is the crucial roles played by older Indigenous people and how these roles have adapted over time to contemporary circumstances. Roles include kinship relationships, support for the young, transmission of cultural knowledge, as well as the key concept of respect for older people as ‘survivors’.