More than 50 representatives of community, government and seniors groups identified barriers to inclusion in the areas of workforce participation, housing and health.
Entitled Count Us In!, the forum developed potential solutions with the guidance of expert presentations from Professor Philip Taylor (Monash University), Dr Maree Petersen (University of Queensland), and Ros Walker (Queensland Council of Social Service).
From the Forum a number of key messages were evident. These include:
- Social inclusion is significantly impacted when there are one or more barriers of workforce participation, housing and health. Research and lived experience of consumers attest to this.
- Withdrawal of government funding to public housing participant groups impacts on support mechanisms and the capacity for residents to remain socially included in their communities.
- Older people who are at greatest risk of homelessness are those who live alone in private rental accommodation and have fixed low incomes.
- There is increasing awareness of the positive and valuable contribution mature age workers contribute to the workforce and the wider economy.
- Recent health reforms may result in increased barriers for consumers in understanding changes to health systems and services.
- Creative and sustainable solutions are required across all levels of government, community organisations and the community to ensure social inclusion is a reality for all people as they age.
In summary, a societal response is pivotal to addressing social isolation and barriers. Furthermore it is critical that the voices of older people are continually heard. As one participant said: “Give seniors a chance to tell their stories”.
Access the presentations here: