16 July, 2022
Aged focus of new strategy
NEW strategy endorsed by Tablelands Regional Council will seek to improve services and facilities for older people, with the number of people aged over 65 living in the local government area to nearly double in the next 14 years.
Currently, nearly 23 per cent, or 5754 people, are aged over 65 but this is expected to reach more than 9000 by 2036, while the number of people aged over 85 is also forecast to double by that date.
The Age-Friendly Strategy 2022-27 also reveals that the Tablelands local government area is one of only five in the State with the highest proportion of people aged 65.
The council was told the strategy was based on the desire of the region to build a community where older people were valued, supported and able to contribute to the community in all spheres of life.
It also takes into account that the number of visitors of older age is increasing and businesses should be made aware of the need to cater to the sector.
The strategy provides guidance to the council, government agencies, community organisations, community groups and local businesses on how to achieve an age friendly community.
Built around several themes including housing, transport, outdoor spaces and buildings, social participation, social inclusion, civic participation and employment, community support, and health services, the strategy was developed after extensive community consultation over the past year.
This involved workshops with older people, community groups, and carers in Atherton, Malanda, Yungaburra, Herberton, Ravenshoe, Mount Garnet and Tolga, as well as a specific workshop with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders.
A survey which was completed by 161 residents, most of whom were 60 years and older, also formed the foundation of the strategy, and annual surveys will be conducted to determine how the strategy is progressing.
Feedback from older people revealed their main concerns were a lack of public transport, affordable social housing and rentals, a lack of bulk-billing doctors and access to a range of health services.
“With the implementation of this strategy, TRC will join the global network of age-friendly communities around the world who are working to create more inclusive towns and cities,” a report to council stated.
“The clear message from community is a desire for this strategy to shift mindsets and for older people to feel valued for the contribution that they make to community.
“It is important to older people that they have access to housing, transport and services that meet their physical and social needs, that they can continue to participate safely in the community, and that older people can easily enjoy the natural environment of the Tablelands.
Actions outlined in the strategy will be implemented by council, organisations, agencies, business and the community.
Some of the actions include an annual pensioner pre-cyclone clean-up, pursuing funding to connect footpaths and cycling trails, an audit of current disabled parking spaces at council facilities, funding support for groups that offer music, events, drama and dance opportunities for older people, advocacy for more housing options and more social housing for older adults, and investigate the development of a mobile scooter safety program.
The document can be accessed from the council’s website.