Tuesday 27 March 2018
Staunch community activist Merle Mitchell AM refers to her current state of ageing as waiting to die, with the lucky ones being the ageing people who die quickly.
Merle knows this isn’t the ageing ideal people want to imagine, but aged in her 80s, she says it’s the reality of the experience and what has motivated her to join the Council on the Ageing Victoria’s (COTA) demand that both parties develop an Agenda for Ageing in the lead up to the 2018 election.
“We are suffering because of a lack of planning and there is a real danger of not preparing for the future in a world that will have even more older people,” Merle said. “I may not run a marathon, but I still contribute”.
COTA couldn’t agree more which is why it is leading an Alliance to launch its campaign for An Agenda for Ageing at Parliament House today, with a lunchtime event that will include political representation and ageing activists like Merle and an unlikely counterpart in 36-year-old Laura May.
Laura has always supported the care of her parents, now aged in their 70s, who were both born deaf and blind in one eye after their mothers had German measles during pregnancy. An only child, Laura always accessed the health system with and for her parents, but it’s the ageing issues which has exacerbate the system flaws.
“Ageing just makes everything more complicated. It’s like going through a maze and getting to a dead-end before you may find a way. The systems are broken and we largely accept this as the way it has to be,” Laura said. “It’s just not good enough. Not for my parents and not for me.”
COTA CEO Ronda Held said an ageing population can bring challenges like those facing Merle, Laura and Laura’s parents, Dawn and Peter, but also real opportunities if we embrace this reality and create a vision for a full life for our entire lives.
“By 2031, almost one in every four Victorians will be aged over 60 and in rural and regional communities this figure will be as high as one in three. That’s only 13 years away. We need a vision and an action agenda developed now,” Ms Held said.
“We challenge the Victorian Government to develop policies and programs that will keep our older population contributing to communities and the economy. The increasing numbers of older people will create new markets for innovation in products and services.
“We should embrace the economic and social opportunities modern ageing can bring. A plan for ageing in Victoria will generate creative ideas and solutions so that older people can thrive and continue to contribute to society”.
Together with a growing alliance of more than 17 member organisations, COTA is calling for the plan to be a state-wide, bi-partisan approach that includes all spheres of government.
COTA will launch its campaign, with speakers including: the Minister for Disability & Ageing Martin Foley MP; Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson AO and former Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Professor Brian Howe AO. The launch will include a panel discussion to hear about the ageing experiences of Merle, Laura and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria’s Marion Lau.
“I understand the way it works now and why but we need to start making a difference and plan for the world we want to live in that enhances the way we age,” Laura said.
The Agenda for Ageing is supported by the following alliance of organisations:
Council on the Ageing Victoria (including Seniors Rights Victoria), Health Issues Centre, Carers Victoria, Victorian Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation, Victorian Council of Social Services, National Ageing Research Institute, Ethnic Communities Council Victoria, Housing for the Aged Action Group, Consumer Action Law Centre, Financial and Consumer Rights Council, Link Community Transport, Victoria Walks, Dementia Victoria, Palliative Care Victoria, Val’s LGBTI Ageing & Aged Care (GLHV), Fair Go For Pensioners, Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria and Mental Health Victoria.
Download An Agenda for Ageing in Victoria
Donna Swan 0419 896 350
Ronda Held 0450 785 437
Amanda Kunkler 0407 329 055