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How WA and Perth prepare for an aging population

In 2014, 12% of the Western Australian population was aged 65 and over. It is forecasted that by 2032 this number will increase to 16%. Many regional WA communities already have a higher percentage of people aged 65+ than the national state average. Albany, Esperance and Margaret River are all preferred retirement towns and are listed among the top ten places to retire in Australia within many articles and websites.

The government needs to plan for the economic and social changes that the ageing population will bring. Over the past few years, many shires and councils have started to conduct surveys and case studies to determine how “age friendly” they are. A good example is the city of Perth; you can read their age-friendly survey here.

The Below table compares the well-being of older citizens based on the social and economic wellbeing of people aged 60 and over. As easily seen, Australia performs worse than the Uk and the US on income security measure and roughly the same regarding health status. Throughout there are some factors that each country excels in and some that need work. The most significant contrasts can be seen when looking at old age poverty rate, physical safety and access to public transport.

 Following the studies, Age-friendly action plans are being implemented to try and make them more geared towards an ageing population.

However, there are also economic considerations that need to be taken into account when planning for an ageing population. Planning needs to be long term and policies need to focus on preventative health interventions, reducing social inequality earlier in life, community care and longer working lives.

In 1999 “the year of the Older Person”, the UN has taken a more pro-active approach in developing global policies to influencing age-related policies. In 2002 a framework was launched titled the “Active Aging” framework, which outlined four main points

  1. Health
  2. Participation
  3. Security
  4. Lifelong learning


To put this framework into practice, the Age-friendly Cities Project was implemented. It involved 33 cities across the globe, including Melville in Western Australia.

The project helped to gain a lot of insights into the community and identified eight primary key indicators of an age-friendly city:

  1. Community support and health services
  2. Outdoor spaces and buildings
  3. Transportation
  4. Housing
  5. Social participation
  6. Respect and social inclusion
  7. Civic participation and employment
  8. Communication and information


The project was a great success and has been growing steadily with more cities worldwide signing up for the plan to create inclusive and accessible environments that benefit an ageing population. The City of Melville and the City of Rockingham are the only WA members.

Western Australia has a document addressing ageing for the period of 2012 – 2017. It is titled An Age-Friendly WA: The Seniors Strategic Planning Framework 2012-2017.

 It identifies five main steps to make Western Australia age-friendly. They are

  1. Promoting Health and Wellbeing
  2. Access to essential services
  3. Economic security and protection of rights
  4. Welcoming and well-planned communities
  5. Opportunities to contribute


The framework outlines the importance for all involved stakeholders to embrace it’s recommendations and objectives to be successful.

However, in WA the uptake on making communities more friendly to the aged population has not been dramatic. While many local governments have begun the journey to a more age-friendly community, only a few have embraced the WA framework. Melville, Mandurah, Fremantle, Rockingham and Cockburn are the leaders in implementing the age-friendly framework in the metropolitan area.



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