Age-friendly strategy on the agenda

Alicia PereraPilbara News
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A plan to make the Pilbara more “age friendly” is being canvassed across the region’s local governments by the Pilbara Regional Council.

The PRC’s Regional Ageing Strategy project is exploring service and funding options for making the youth-dominated Pilbara, which many seniors leave upon retirement, a more attractive place for seniors to live.

The project is based on a 2014 Department of Local Government and Communities report that looks at the state of aged care across WA in accordance with age-friendly guidelines identified by the World Health Organisation.

Pilbara Regional Council chief executive Tony Friday said the challenges to improving aged care were different in the Pilbara than in most parts of the State, as a low ratio of seniors and high rates of leaving upon retirement meant they needed to focus on attraction and retention instead of just exploring services.

“We don’t necessarily have an expectation from our current seniors that they’re gong to stay there, to expect that to continue to be home,” he said. “Others, even before they’ve retired, they’re already looking beyond the Pilbara, because there’s something that’s not there that they need.”

“We have to sit down with local governments and figure out if is it a gap we can actually close.”

Mr Friday said the PRC would consult senior Pilbara residents and tourists to gain “some good solid empirical data” on the gaps between what is available and what is needed for the region to be more age-friendly.

Karratha Autumn Club president Alan Green and treasurer Kathy Green said while they loved living in Karratha, there was a lack of options for seniors.

Mr Green said the main challenges were a lack of public transport, cultural drawcards such as theatres and cinemas, targeted community events for seniors and retirement and aged care accommodation.

“That will be huge, because then they can stay here and still live here in these facilities, instead of being put on a plane and flying to Perth,” he said.

“So there are a lot of opportunities to make it a better place to live, but in the meantime we are struggling.”

The PRC is intending to apply for a DLGC Age-Friendly Communities grant if the project receives regional local government support.

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