Yates, Ian, Impact
The challenges posed by the overall ageing of the Australian population have been well documented. For example in 2004 the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) identified that the proportion of the population aged 65 overwil rise from around 13% in 2004 to 25% of our population (6.8 million) by 2015.
Population ageing has now taken on greater public policy significance as recognition grows of the substantial economic, fiscal and social impacts of ageing. Major challenges have been identified by the Commonwealth Treasury's "Intergenerational Report" in 2002 and the widely influential "Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia" by the Productivity Commission in 2005.
Population ageing throughout the world represents on the one hand one of the greatest achievements of the twentieth century, resulting as it does from unprecedented gains in public health and in economic development. Australia's experience mirrors that of other developed nations. Of course at the same time as we have larger numbers of older people, our birth rate is falling which mean that increased numbers of older people are not balanced by new cohorts of children.
This demographic change is often characterised as a 'crisis in the making' for Australia. That was the widespread reaction to the Intergenerational Report. However the Productivity Commission concluded that "Population ageing can only be conceived as a crisis if we let it become one", arguing cogently that the public policy measures that need to be taken are identifiable and viable, but need the political will to implement with sufficient time to have effect.
There is a real danger that a "crisis" framework will lead to Governments taking measures to address the economic and fiscal challenges of an older population that impact negatively on current older Australians, particularly the frail and vulnerable, resulting in lower quality of life and reduced life-options for an increasing number of retired and near retirement Australians.
Governments instead need to realise that an older population offers us many opportunities as well as challenges, but opportunities that require a comprehensive new approach across almost all aspects of social and economic policy.
For example the World Health Organisation (WHO) is advocating the concept of "Active Ageing" to guide policy makers responding to the challenge of population ageing. "Active Ageing" is not confined to issues of older age. It provides a framework that encompasses the life course and recognises the diversity between individuals that increases with age. The concept identifies three important factors -health, participation and security - as essential to an enriched and positive life well into old age.
COTA Over 50s has identified key budget priorities for Governments to address. In doing so it urges the Federal Government to adopt the WHO Active Ageing concept as its policy paradigm and to use the following questions as a yardstick for assessing all budget bids, not just those that directly address issues of retirement and old age.
Health - How will this initiative decrease risk factors and increase protective …
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Publication information: Article title: Active Ageing. Contributors: Yates, Ian - Author. Magazine title: Impact. Publication date: Autumn 2007. Page number: 10+. © 2007 Australian Council of Social Service. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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