News & Events

Roz finds her place in village life

April 15, 2018

Roz Johnson never stayed long in most of her previous jobs.  After a couple of years she would look around for a new challenge and something to hold her interest. Things changed when she came to OCAV and seven years on she still commutes each day from Lara, near Geelong, because she loves her work, welcomes the new challenges and has no plans to leave.

“Each day here is different and it throws up new challenges for me and opportunities to keep improving things for the residents who live in our communities,” Roz said.

Roz is the Residents’ Coordinator at OCAV’s Rushall Park, North Fitzroy and Braeside Park, Berwick, villages. She is the go to person for the 220 residents across the two villages and supports them with myriad issues. Her day may involve spending an hour on the phone over someone’s incorrect phone bill, advocating for a resident on a personal issue or organising support services for a resident returning home after a hospital admission. She also organizes regular information sessions for residents in the two villages on ways to make ageing safer. Some recent sessions were on Dementia, Fire Safety, Advanced Care Planning, NBN, and Council Services in both villages.


“Sometimes my job is sitting and listening to someone who is upset about something inside or outside the village and empathising with them.  I need to take the time to listen to them and really hear what they are saying and understand what is making them upset or what has triggered their anger or disappointment,” Roz said. “Over the years I have become much more patient and better at listening to someone and trying to help them find a solution or help them accept something that cant’ be changed.”


“The longer I work here, the more I get to appreciate the wisdom and experiences of older people.”


Roz, who has a double degree in social work and human services, worked for many years in Bendigo in the disability sector. On Saturdays she worked as a volunteer at an aged care facility, organising activities for people with severe dementia. It was an epiphany for Roz, who loved spending time with the older residents and sharing their experiences of joy and frustration.


“People with dementia are just in that moment, which is so different to the way the rest of us operate. I loved that work as a volunteer and realised it was an area I wanted to work in,” Roz said. “Our commitment at OCAV towards dementia-friendly villages has given me the opportunity to learn more and play a part in how OCAV works continually to achieve this goal. I was on the planning committee for the new Rushall Park development and a constant focus was on making the area dementia friendly, from design aspects to the use of colours.”


Supporting ageing Victorians of all abilities is important to Roz and to the rest of the OCAV staff – another reason she has stayed put.


“If you have a high staff turnover it makes it hard to build relationships with co-workers and that affects residents, it’s unsettling for them. Here, people stay a long time and it strengthens the whole community. That’s what Rushall Park and Braeside Park are; terrific communities that the residents have created,” Roz said.


Roz admires the attitude of residents who move from their homes, into a new community and work hard to strengthen it, not just for themselves but also for others and people who will come after them.  She supports the ideas and creativity of residents who organise new events and activities and does what she can to make sure they happen.


“There’s so much going on in our villages; everything you could imagine and more. Here at Rushall Park residents even get the chance to learn juggling. There’s something for everyone at OCAV.”



Leith Park is a wonderful place for single older women because of the community and the age-friendly accommodation. I don’t think I have ever felt as safe as I have here.

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