Towards an Age-Friendly Hunter

Community Behind new Alliance to make Hunter an Age Friendly Community.

The Hunter community is getting behind a new alliance to get all levels of government, business, NGOs and citizens to focus more on older people and work together to make the Hunter an age friendly community.

Hunter Ageing Alliance spokesperson, and geriatrician, Dr John Ward, said 100 organisations, government representatives, and citizens have signed the Alliance’s pledge to play their part in making the Hunter an age-friendly community and join the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.

Those getting behind the Alliance include City of Newcastle, Hunter New England Local Health District, and HMRI, as well as Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery, Newcastle Lord Mayor Cr Nuatali Nelmes, and local businesses and service providers to older people.

The City of Newcastle Council is supporting the Alliance’s first public forum on July 2 at Fort Scratchley to gain community input into five priority areas.

  • Overcoming social isolation and creating connections
  • Affordable, age-friendly housing
  • Employment, education, and community participation opportunities for people over 50
  • Education, training and employment opportunities in the aged-care sector and other services
  • Services for older people and how to access them (including, but not limited to aged care).

Representatives from the City of Unley in South Australia will join the forum to share their experiences of creating an age friendly, connected community. Information from the forum will be also feed into Newcastle Council’s new social strategy, the Local Social.

Dr Ward said there is not enough attention on meeting the needs of the growing number of local older people. He said that people over 65 will soon make up a quarter of the region’s population and the number of people over 85 will double in the next 20 years.

The number of older homeowners is declining and the number of older women becoming homeless is growing. Social housing stock is declining and waiting lists can be more than ten years,” Dr Ward said.

Ageing issues were far greater than aged care and accommodation,” he said.

Ageism and the organisation of communities is denying older people of their right to be physically, intellectually, socially and sexually active.”

One of the Alliance’s solutions is for the region to become a World Health Organisation (WHO) Age Friendly Community. The WHO has produced a guide, and established a global support network, around eight areas that cities and communities can address to better adapt their structures and services to the needs of older people: the built environment, transport, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication, and community support and health services.

We can use this proven framework to rise above the blame game and tokenism and take action to promote healthy and active ageing and a good quality of life for older people.”

Older people make an important contribution to our community. They deserve better support to be healthy, independent and autonomous long into their old age.”

To register for the forum or to join the Alliance visit www.hunterageingalliance.com or email contact@hunterageingalliance.com

The Alliance was launched in April of this year. It was established by Dr Ward, Newcastle University academic and global innovation chair in Responsive Transitions in Health and Ageing, Professor Julie Byles, health and elder lawyer, Catherine Henry, and CEO of Maroba, Viv Allanson.