WHAT MATTERS? Ask seniors for their opinion and find their real concerns.
WHAT MATTERS? Ask seniors for their opinion and find their real concerns. piranka

Footpaths a concern for seniors in Northern NSW

THE condition and lack of footpath's was among the key concerns for older NSW residents according to a survey released by the Council on Ageing (COTA) NSW.

COTA NSW CEO Megan Lawson said the survey was conducted with focus groups across the state from Bega to the Queensland border and included sessions at Coffs, Gosford and Tweed. In all 18 focus groups were held involving 300 consumers over the age of 50 and reports of the findings would be released over the next few months in preparation for next year's NSW State election.

Lawson said COTA spoke to people about what mattered to them across the five broad themes of the NSW Ageing Strategy including health, employment, housing, transport and social inclusion. They form part of COTA's larger engagement with older people, including a survey of over 7,500 people on housing issues and a recent national survey.

She said while issues differed around the state, one that kept popping up across the groups was the lack or the condition of footpaths.

Lawson said the simple fact was that if the older people couldn't get out of their front doors, down to the shops or too see friends or keep appointments then they couldn't engage and be part of the community.

She said lack of housing and rental properties as well as difficulties in finding jobs were also of major concern to those questioned.

Lawson said that the findings demonstrate the need to ask older people their opinions.

"Older people often feel they aren't being listened to - but that doesn't mean that they don't have anything to say," said Lawson.

"It's time that somebody pays attention - "It's time that somebody pays attention - which is what we've done with this Engagement Report. We talked to people all over New South Wales to ask what they care about and what matters most to them," she said.

The other key areas of concern for older people across NSW, included the need for communication training for medical staff, and the affordability, availability and accessibility of housing.

"Older people feel like they're getting left behind and that they aren't being listened to. This report demonstrates that they do have a range of concerns and opinions - they're just looking for someone to listen," said Lawson.

Findings from the Engagement Report, as well as those from COTA NSW's wider engagement with older people in NSW, will be used to form COTA NSW's policies in the lead-up to the election.

"Forty-four per cent of voters in NSW are over 50," she explained.

The report outlines the key themes in detail, and is separated by electorates surveyed. The Engagement Report can be accessed at https://www.cotansw.com.au/council-on-the-ageing-nsw-news-and-eventsdetails/engagement-report-2018

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