Property Council warns of possible incoming ageing crisis

The Property Council of Australia has expressed concern for the elderly as a possible ageing crisis approaches.

Property Council’s NSW Executive Director Luke Achterstraat said for over two decades there has been countless reports foretelling the impact on our society and economy of an older population.

“This year, the 2021 Intergenerational Report, released by the Australian Government, identified an ageing population as ‘Australia’s greatest demographic challenge’,” Mr Achterstraat said.

“Despite all the evidence, there are no meaningful plans, or strategies to start mitigating the impacts of an increasingly older population. This is causing even more stress on our already strained health and aged care systems.

Mr Achterstraat said our governments needed to make sure they have real plans, and a real focus, on the policies and investments that are needed to support healthy ageing.

“In New South Wales this starts by taking a long hard look at the aims and objectives of the draft Housing SEPP, released recently by the NSW State Government.

“The draft SEPP is seemingly a response to local governments wanting to shut the door to the new development of age-friendly communities.

“These are communities like retirement villages and land lease estates that combine purpose-built age-friendly housing with access to care and high levels of social engagement.

“Importantly, they are a critical element of healthy ageing through the support they provide to enable people to live independently, while retaining social connections with friends and neighbours.

“By removing retirement living from specific planning zones, raising the minimum age of entry from 55 to 60, which specifically shuts the door to an affordable housing option for women who are increasingly at risk of homelessness, the draft SEPP is a giant leap backwards for healthy ageing.”

Mr Achterstraat said research showed that retirement village residents are already saving governments over $2 billion every year by mitigating the two biggest causes of hospitalisation in older Australians: falls and depression caused by social isolation.

“It also shows that retirement village residents are living independently, on average, for up to five years longer than people in the general community.

“This is what healthy ageing is all about. It’s why we need more age-friendly communities, accessible to more people, rather than less.

“When governments make it harder and more expensive to build and operate age-friendly communities, they are clearly not taking Australia’s ageing crisis seriously.

“It’s not too late. The Housing SEPP can be amended and New South Wales can benefit from a good policy decision that will benefit all residents, and ensure future governments are not unnecessarily burdened with a completely unaffordable health system that is unable to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live.”

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