Could Illawarra be Australia’s 1st Age-friendly Region?
By 2026, there will be almost 75,000 people over the age of 70 living across the Illawarra. Many more baby-boomers are currently living here – and will choose to live here. Being proactive now will help our community prepare for not only an increasing population base but an increasing older demographic.
An unprecedented local initiative is the IRT Foundation to be launched on 1 October 2014. The Foundation will coordinate IRT’s commitment to return $20m to the community by the 2020 which IRT’s Chief Executive Officer, Nieves Murray, says will be used to make a positive difference to the way older people were considered in society and to help the less fortunate.
Architects Edmiston Jones are working with the IRT Foundation to facilitate a cross-Council initiative establishing the Illawarra as an age-friendly region. The four local government agencies which form the Illawarra region are being encouraged to commit to a Memorandum of Understanding to work collaboratively to achieve this ambition.
This is believed to be the first time in Australia that local government agencies would work collectively, sharing knowledge and experiences to create a society which supports its community members as they age.
Age-friendliness is not solely directed at the elderly. The principles encourage participation and planning which will create a society for all ages: offering employment opportunities, community support, health services, social participation, transportation and housing for all stages of life.
International expert on ageing and founder of the World Health Organisation’s Age-friendly Cities and Communities Project, Dr Alex Kalache will travel from Brazil later this month to run a series of educational events for IRT Foundation and AEJ assisting local community groups, business and government to prepare for an ageing population and the challenges and opportunities that brings.