Great Lakes Council is now a member of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities. Great Lakes is the second council in NSW to obtain membership and the ninth in Australia, with only 210 members worldwide.
The Network was established to foster the exchange of experience and mutual learning on age-friendly community development worldwide.
Cities and communities in the Network are of different sizes and are located in different parts of the world. Their efforts to become more age-friendly take place within very diverse cultural and socio-economic contexts.
What all members of the Network do have in common is the desire and commitment to promote healthy and active ageing and a good quality of life for their older residents.
“Council recognised some time ago that we need to plan for an ageing population and in 2012 resolved to become a Centre of Excellence for Ageing,” said Mayor Cr Jan McWilliams.
“We made the decision based on our demographics – the Great Lakes local government area has the oldest population in NSW and the third-oldest in Australia, so it’s important to plan for older people,” said the Mayor.
“In October this year, Council adopted the Great Lakes Active Ageing Strategy and membership of the Global Network was a logical next step in achieving our goal,” said General Manager, Mr Glenn Handford.
“Our Active Ageing Strategy outlines a three-year action plan. Being part of this global network enables us to learn from the experiences of other like-minded communities around the world, and we’re looking forward to networking with those organisations,” said Mr Handford.
Community Services Coordinator, Ms Lyndie Hepple said, “this is not an accreditation, but rather a commitment to a continuing improvement process.
“We’ve worked closely with COTA NSW (formerly NSW Council on the Ageing), and have adopted their philosophy – that if an environment suits an older person, it will suit everybody.
“We’re trying to shift the way society thinks about ageing, from a clinical model of incapacity, illness and care, to a social model of inclusion, participation and contribution. There are huge benefits for people and the general community if people are engaged in their local community. This is what we will be working to improve.”
Council is currently calling for expressions of interest for community members to become part of its Community Reference Group. Members of the community who are interested in being part of rolling out the Active Ageing Strategy are encouraged to apply.
Application forms for the Community Reference Group are available on Council’s website.