News & Events

Making community age friendly

May 24, 2018

OCAV was praised for its long-standing commitment and track record to housing and supporting older Victorians in need by the Hon Richard Wynne, the State’s Minister for Planning, when he launched the publication, What should an age-friendly community look like in 2050?

He congratulated the organisation for initiating Conversations for Change, a regular forum that brings together policy makers, researchers, philanthropists and other leaders in the housing and ageing sectors, to introduce new ideas aimed at shaping a future which all older people are actively involved.

“The question about age-friendly communities is essential as our population will exceed Sydney’s by 2050, the number of older single women who do not have access to housing or support is increasing, and older Victorians will also be healthy and active for longer,” he said.

“All these issues demand our attention to ensure that our communities are friendly to all age groups and support Victorians to be engaged in life, and to enjoy life.”

The Minister said that he expected regional Victoria to play a big part in delivering sustainable, planned communities.

“We are planning 20 minute neighbourhoods, where within 20 minutes of where anyone lives there will be schools, medical centres, employment options, and mixed housing,” he said.

What should an age-friendly community look like in 2050? includes thought pieces from Dr Helen Austin, Dr Owen Donald, Dr Sue Malta, and Rob McGauran.  Dr Austin, a Rushall Park resident and former palliative care physician, reflected that when it comes to deliberating what a future age-friendly community should look like, Victoria could do no better than to consider the OCAV communities and villages.

“I would like to see a broad variety of people living together, a community that allows people to come together for creative experiences, access to services that will allow us to receive care in our homes and an evening service to enable older residents to enjoy a hot meal at night, take their medications and safely settle at night. This is akin to what is offered here, but many more communities like these are needed now and before 2050,” she said.

Rob McGauran, an architect, said that it is time for us to think differently about housing and in particularly about refocusing the significant contributions of Government to housing by way of tax deductibility and negative gearing to advancing the supply of housing stock.

He cited three challenges and opportunities facing Victoria: the opportunity to establish bridging programs, facilities and activities that enable ageing communities to continue to be connected; to create homes for people not institutions, investing in locations for ageing with an opportunity to continue to have a sense of self; and for technology and the ability to both enhance lives and diminish risks to the frail and ageing without the apparent constraints afforded by the highly visible current risk minimisation modes.

Dr Sue Malta, a senior researcher at the National Ageing Research Institute and University of Melbourne, said it was crucial to give more thought about how society is going to look after people living with dementia.

She applauded OCAV’s progressive approach making its villages dementia-friendly and one which should be followed closely and supported by all governments.

“There are many examples of dementia-specific villages occurring in Australia and elsewhere, but such developments do not reflect the reality that, with better testing, more and more people will be diagnosed earlier with dementia and will want to remain part of their diverse communities; and not necessarily surrounded by other people in similar circumstances,” Dr Malta said.

Dr Owen Donald, Chief Commissioner of the Victorian Building Authority, outlined a six-point plan for Victoria to arrive at supporting age-friendly communities. These are:
1.    Include older persons at every stage of later life in strategic and precinct-level land-use planning.
2.    Plan and implement delivery strategies that don’t just permit but actively ensure the allocation of land and housing developments dedicated to suitable affordable housing for older people.
3.    Greater public financial support (recurrent and/or capital funding) for suitable affordable housing for older people of limited means.
4.    Enable and encourage, if not require, social mix in aged persons accommodation and services to, among other things, enable commercially sustainable service provision for lower income people and reduce dependence on public funding.
5.    Enhance ageing-in-place policies and practices that enable older persons to remain in their homes (owned, private rental or public/community rental) until they wish to move or need around-the-clock intensive support. For this, income-support and services are both important, the former to enable transition from full-time to part- time paid work and from paid to unpaid activity.
6.    Ensure that the supply of accommodation options meets need and/or demand at a subregional level so that ageing does not result in unwanted dislocation from existing locations.

Click here to read What should an age-friendly community look like in 2050?

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