News & Events

From the CEO – a focus on industry leadership and our residents

December 9, 2016

As we head into the festive season, it is time to reflect on what has been an extremely exciting year for all of us at the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria.

We have been very focussed throughout 2016 progressing our Vision 2020 and its three key platforms: industry leadership, assisting more Victorians, and a happy, vibrant place to live and work.

A major decision was made this year to adopt the principles contained in the Dementia Guide for Australian Retirement Villages. We are acutely aware of the rising prevalence of dementia in our society.  Projections suggest the total number of Australians with dementia will be 400,000 by 2020, growing to 900,000 by 2050.  .

Over the next three years we will roll out a plan to make our villages more dementia friendly.  Initiatives including the development of an engagement program with residents, families, powers of attorney to ensure there is awareness and understanding of dementia and signs that may indicate its onset, a dementia education program for all staff, and design protocols for existing and new accommodation.

We are thrilled that we are now able to move on two major developments for our Leith Park and Rushall Park villages. As you will read in this newsletter, we have the go ahead to create 81 new units in both villages, at a cost being met by OCAV of over $25 million. These two projects will make significant inroads into our waiting list that currently stands at 900 older Victorians in need. They also highlight how committed we are to our mission which is to provide affordable accommodation and support to elderly Victorians.

We have for quite some time remained relatively unknown in the retirement living sector. This year, however, this has changed with the launch of a communications strategy aimed at lifting the profile of the Association, and a government and philanthropy strategy. The latter enjoyed early successes with a grant of $10,000 for an edible garden at Currie Park, $40,000 towards bathroom and kitchen upgrades also at Currie Park, and $17,000 for new specialty beds at Liscombe House.

This year we have raised our voice on behalf of older Victorians in need in many different ways. We have written submissions into the need for affordable housing, a national prevalence study into elder abuse, and we will be making a submission to the Victorian Budget process as well.

This advocacy again reflects how we are fulfilling our commitment to our mission. The value of having safe and secure shelter is intrinsic to Australia’s prosperity. Governments and housing providers have to work together to find innovative solutions that build real communities that embrace people, irrespective of their financial means. We stand ready to tackle these issues because, despite Federal government policy, not all elderly people want to stay in their homes. Communal living, like that offered by OCAV, is highly sought after as is attested by the length of our waiting lists.

Of course none of this action would be possible without people.

Volunteers form an integral part of our work and in so many ways. As you will read, Liam Nixon is a young student who has been volunteering at Liscombe House since he was 15. His involvement with the residents and their relationship with him clearly highlights the importance of friendship, both at group level and individually.  Our volunteer numbers have grown by 25% in the past twelve months and we plan to grow this number to more than 200 by 2020.

Our Councillors share a vision for the care and wellbeing of elderly Victorians, and give freely of their time to make it happen. They meet regularly as a Council and also serve on the many committees we have in place to develop and support our strategy.

Our staff work hard and often over the odds, and are crucial to our successes. The low turnover and the fact that the average staff tenure is seven years amplifies the strong commitment they have to making sure all our residents stay healthy, active and are supported.

And finally to our residents, whose contributions to the OCAV community are extraordinary. Anyone who believes that older people are an economic burden on Australia should spend at least a day with us to see how wrong they are. Our residents are tireless in their efforts to volunteer not only in our villages but also in communities beyond our gates; they are active in the smooth running of each village.

We wish you all a peaceful Christmas and we look forward to telling you more about our successes and work for older Victorians in need in 2017.

I love the ‘magimix’ of people who make up the community and that it is a safe and happy place to live. - Jo Portlock

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