Messages for policy-makers

Participants felt they had valuable skills and knowledge which they could transfer to others. They thought those over 65 still had an important contribution to make and that this needs to be recognised by Government. Several participants pointed out the growth in the ageing population. They thought that not utilising the valuable skills and experience of seniors is a missed opportunity for the whole of society. In essence, the focus of policy should change from being concerned about the ‘burden’ of ageing to the ‘contribution’ older people are able to make.

Denis thinks the retirement age should be increased to 70 and that many older people can be kept in paid employment in more sedentary roles.

Ato Addis believes older people can be more productive and the Government needs to have a better plan for Australia’s ageing society.

Aboriginal participants strongly advocated for better consultation with the community. They highlighted the importance of listening to the needs of the community and that involving older people in the implementation of policies means they are more likely to succeed. Chris explained that good policy is about developing the processes through which to engage people to develop their own solutions.

Elaine M would like policy-makers to work together with Yolngu people to develop solutions which are based on the concerns of the people.

Oscar describes the confusion felt by people in his community when new laws and policies are passed. He wants the Government to listen to the community rather than telling them what to do.

Barrie points out that ‘seniors’ are a very diverse group of individuals and policy-makers need to stop and listen in order to respond effectively.

The development of age-friendly cities would benefit from broad community input. Several participants pointed out that having a mixture of ages is important for community diversity, and that environments that suit older people are often of benefit for children, families and disabled people. Some suggestions were for public buses to have a lowering step to make it easier for older people and mothers with infants to get on and off; and more effort in making lightweight wheelchairs and walkers, which are available for paraplegics, accessible to older people.

When downsizing Richard found the housing options for seniors very restrictive. He would like to see suburbs planned for a mixture of age groups.