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WA town named Age Friendly city

A strategic plan for being age-friendly, recognition of Aboriginal elders and ongoing community consultations are just some of the programs that have made a Western Australia town an Age Friendly city.

The city of Cockburn received the state government’s 2014 Age Friendly Communities Local Government Award.

City of Cockburn manager of human services Gail Bowman said the area recognised the need to plan strategically for the city’s ageing population. “When we developed our first Seniors Plan in 2004, there was already a shortage of services and accommodation for seniors and we knew this would get worse as the population of seniors increased over time.

“Long-term social planning is necessary to facilitate wide-scale change to become an Age Friendly city,” she said.

Bowman recommends adopting the World Health Organization’s Global Age Friendly Cities framework. “It provided a holistic and organisation-wide framework for the City of Cockburn to plan for seniors’ needs and aspirations,” she said. The city introduced the Cockburn Active Ageing Seniors Centre. Bowman said this was life-changing for the thousands of seniors who have been members since it opened in 2009.

The Cockburn Men’s Shed was also set up after consultations with seniors. Bowman said it had made a dramatic difference to men’s health and wellbeing.

Cockburn puts on a Seniors Expo that connects people with services and is in the planning stage of an Age Friendly Affordable Housing development. This will include 170 apartments and a 112-bed aged-care facility.

Other initiatives that have been set up in Cockburn include the Transitioning Baby Boomers Group, which provides emotional support, the seniors security subsidy to help with safety and security and the Tales of Times Past intergenerational volunteer group that links schoolchildren with seniors.

There has also been a focus on the elderly amongst Indigenous people. The Nyungar Seniors Cultural Experience was developed to increase understanding and knowledge of Nyungar culture. The NAIDOC Seniors Ball was also set up to celebrate being a Nyungar senior. The city received the local government award as it celebrated Senior’s Week, during which it held its first Nyungar cultural experience at Bibra Lake.

“Seniors’ social events bring people together, regular physical activity programs provide good health outcomes and social programs create friendship networks and support,” Bowman said. “The growth of Cockburn Community Care provides home help, personal care, garden maintenance, social support, transport and other services to people with a disability, the frail aged and their carers so people can maintain their independence and continue to live at home.”

Bowman said the goals of the city include implementing the Age Friendly Affordable Housing Development and seeing the rest of their current plan come to fruition. “[We plan to] continue on with all the successful services, events and community development activities we undertake.”

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One comment

  1. Congratulations. It is great to see what you have achieved. Well done on taking on the challenge of becoming age friendly and acknowledging the reality for many rural communities. I plan to use your case study in my work

    Well done