VIDEO: Seniors should have a voice that shapes policy

IF it stays active, useful and a regular part of the scene the word 'Gerontalescent" may be anointed into a future Oxford dictionary.

That's the word Global leader in ageing policy Professor Alexandre Kalache said he liked to describe himself, at a forum for Age-Friendly Communities, in Brisbane on Thursday.

The Queensland Government invited Dr Kalache to speak at forum designed to inform the development of a Queensland senior's strategy as an "Age-Friendly Community " - a community that prioritises and addresses the needs and aspirations of older people.

The Brazilian born, Co-President of the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance and former Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) global program on ageing said once life has simply gone from childhood to work, but affluence created a transitional space for adolescent to learn, grow, rebel. Contemporary society had created a similar space for older people.

He said this age-group should have a voice that will challenge, speak up and shape social policies.

He told policymakers to "listen to the people, they will tell you, don't make assumptions."

He listed the big issues as health care, life-long learning, income, social participation and security of food and shelter.

"But this is not about ageing, it's about longevity," he said.

He called Australia a land of migrants and asked for the recognition of the uniqueness of problems associated with ageing in a foreign land.

"In older age you can start longing for what you left behind," he said

He recommended government policies for migrants who have also left a legacy and made contributions.

"Young adults have a habit of getting older," he warned.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Dr Kalache references his own country to define the demands of longevity.

"Do you remember the song "The Girl from Ipomea," he asked.

"Well that girl today is 76 and she is looking after her mother with Alzheimer's."

Now, he is said he was speaking on behalf of "All the girls from Ipomea."

He asked this generation not be selfish, but to be inclusive and imaginative.

He emphasised the importance of intergenerational activities and gender balance.

In terms of caregiving, he said:

"If a society is to be sustainable, we cannot just rely on women.

"We must bring men into these roles."

Audience member Emeritus Professor, Colleen Cartwright of Southern Cross University reached out with another imaginative step.

"Instead of just childcare in the workplace," she said.

"Let's have care for young and old."

COTA (Council for the Aging) CEO Mark Tucker- Evans said businesses  such as Bunnings and Westpac should be congratulated for their recognition of older workers.

"Bunning have seen the benefit of employing retired tradies, who can pass on their expert knowledge to customers," he said.

The WHO Age-friendly Cities Framework

The WHO (World Health Organisation) Age-friendly Cities framework developed in the Global Age-friendly Cities Guide proposes eight interconnected domains that can help to identify and address barriers to the well-being and participation of older people.

These domains overlap and interact with each other. For example, respect is reflected in the accessibility of public buildings and spaces and in the range of opportunities that the city offers to older people for social participation, entertainment, volunteering or employment.

The lack of affordable public transport for example isolates older people who no longer drive in their homes and make participation in community life difficult, increasing the risk of isolation and loneliness. When transport is available and adapted to the needs of seniors, both in terms of scheduling and destinations, it enhances mobility and facilitates social participation and a sense of belonging in one's community.

It is equally important that older people continue to have a good reason to go out and participate. Cultural offers and entertainment that cater to the interests of older people, opportunities for volunteering or civic engagement contribute to a fulfilling and enjoyable older age.


Willem Pruys, general manager of HR for Bunnings - where a third of the 30,000 plus workforce is over 50 - says the hardware giant has never had a specific strategy for hiring mature-age workers. Not long after the company introduced the warehouse concept, about 17 years ago, management considered its face-to-face interactions with customers and determined that the salesperson's know-how and credibility were vital. Hiring older people was "just common sense,' says Pruys


Westpac: In 2014 the federal government recognised the bankd for its programs that champion older workers. Westpac has proactively supported mature aged employees for many years through initiatives such as the introduction of grandparental leave, a targeted campaign to recruit employees over 50 years, and initiatives championed by the 400-strong members of Westpac's Prime of Life Employee Action Group.


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