Age with grace: WA reveals seniors plan

Senior advocates have welcomed a new campaign supporting Western Australia seniors but warns it may not go far enough.  

The ‘An Age-Friendly WA’ strategy has been put into action.

It follows two years of consultations with advocacy organisations and more than 2000 people, including seniors in their nineties. 

The state government have dedicated $2 million in the 2023-2024 budget towards the initiative. 

Seniors and Ageing Minister Don Punch says many seniors feel undervalued.

“There are seniors who talk to me about a sense of disappearing from view, about not feeling seen or knowing how to fit in once they are retired from paid work,” he says.

Mr Punch says ageism is often one of the greatest challenges for the older community. 

“Suddenly when we are defined as a senior, the community treats us differently,” he says.

“We want to try and break down the barrier’s ageism has built for the older generation.”

Mr Punch says there is a misconception seniors don’t contribute to society once they retire from paid work. 

“From caring for their family members to contributing to voluntary clubs, older people’s contribution to the world is extremely important and that needs to be recognised,” he says.

The strategy plan has identified four key pillars to help implement change: thriving physically, mentally, and spiritually; safe and friendly communities; staying connected and engaged; and having views that are heard. 

The action plan includes a campaign aimed at tackling ageism throughout Western Australia. 

The strategy is in partnership with 17 local governments. Photo: Piper Duffy.

Advocare chief executive officer Louise Forster says ageism is a societal issue underpinning issues like elder abuse and discrimination. 

“Since it is such a huge issue for older people, I’m not sure a campaign alone is substantial enough to combat the problem,” she says.

Advocare are an independent community-based non-for-profit protecting older people’s rights in Western Australia. The organisation was involved in the consultation process for the senior strategy plan. 

While Mrs Forster feels the consultation was a bit vague on metro-based scenarios, she says there are real tangible benefits seniors will experience from the plan. 

“Grants around programs that make communities more age friendly is a good start to seniors feeling further acceptance and inclusion from their community,” she says.

Mr Punch says the aim is for seniors to have access to the right support and services. 

“There will be a focus on senior’s support regarding affordable housing and health care,” he says.

Mrs Forster says she would like to see more voices of seniors in the strategy.

She says she looks forward to seeing how the strategy will be implemented.

Louise Forster says the government needs to take a holistic approach to the plan. Photo: Supplied.

Mr Punch says the government will be actively observing how the plan progresses over the next five years and make changes where necessary. 

Mrs Forster says she’s intrigued to see how the plan will be implemented.

“Writing a documented strategy is one thing, but to physically activate that plan and see how it goes … the proof will be in the pudding.” 

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