Draft plan to support and empower older people to be healthy and active

Community consultation has opened today on a draft strategy aimed at improving and protecting the health of older people in Greater Geelong, so that they feel safe, valued and empowered.

Residents of all ages are encouraged to help shape the ‘Respected,connected and thriving – Draft Positive Ageing Strategy 2021-47‘, which is open for comment for four weeks.

Older people are a vital part of the community and make significant contributions in the workforce, volunteer sector and as carers.

The Geelong region’s population is ageing, with the number of community members aged 55 years and over expected to grow from 72,000 currently to 120,000 over the next 20 years.

Council has committed to responding to this growth through informed planning of safe and accessible outdoor spaces and buildings, community and health services, social initiatives and more.

The long-term strategy will guide how the City supports, listens to and advocates for older people in the region, so that they are active and healthy.

During focus groups with older residents and consultation with 12 key stakeholder organisations, key opportunities and issues were raised about isolation, safety, the need for improved access to services and support, promoting digital literacy and addressing negative stereotypes of older people.

The ‘Respected, connected and thriving – Draft Positive Ageing Strategy 2021-47’ commits to a number of priorities, including:

  • Older people feel safe in the community;
  • Accessible footpaths, ramps and pedestrian crossings, good street lighting, public seating and toilets to promote safety and improve the character of neighbourhoods;
  • Older people are valued and acknowledged for their past, present and future contributions;
  • The diverse experiences and views of older people to inform how the Council’s activities are developed and implemented;
  • Parks and open spaces are designed with the needs of older people in mind; and
  • A range of health and support services is available to promote, maintain and restore health, and support independent living.

A Positive Ageing Action Plan will be developed in partnership with the community, outlining the activities, timelines, responsibilities and measures of progress for each priority area.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said planning for an ageing population is vital, particularly in areas like the Bellarine Peninsula, where a large number of older people live.

Social responsibility is a critical part of our Sustainability Framework and the Draft Positive Ageing Strategy needs to be included as an important element of the Sustainability Action Plan’s Community Wellbeing and Social Equity priority area.

We need to take a holistic approach to improving services and facilities for older people, through collaboration with all levels of government, organisations and the broader community.

Ageing is everyone’s business, so I encourage people of all ages to contribute to this draft plan, to ensure older people are treated and supported in the way they deserve.

Councillor Sarah Mansfield, Chair, Community Health and Aged Care portfolio said older people being healthy, feeling heard and staying active is vital to a thriving community.

Traditionally, the City’s main focus for people as they age has been the provision of services like home care, which is only used by about 10 per cent of over 65s in Greater Geelong.

We have been out and engaged with the community, and we’ve heard that there is a lot more that the organisation could be doing to ensure that all residents feel supported, included and valued as they age.

The strategy outlines a long-term vision for how we can achieve this.

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