COTA Australia was contracted by the Department of Health and Ageing to undertake engagement with older people on the proposed aged care reforms. A key element of the project was to support the Conversations on Ageing conducted by the Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon. Mark Butler.
The Conversations commenced on 19 August 2011 in Adelaide and concluded in Alice Springs on 1st February 2012. The following conversations were held:
- South Australia Adelaide CBD, Port Adelaide, Camden Park and Modbury
- Victoria Tottenham, Grovedale (Geelong), Ballarat and Berwick
- New South Wales Sydney CBD, Blacktown, Gosford, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Ballina, Tamworth, Penrith and Wollongong
- Northern Territory Darwin and Alice Springs
- ACT Canberra
- Western Australia Victoria Park, Cockburn, Rockingham and Warwick
- Queensland Rockhampton, Mackay, Deception Bay and Acacia Ridge
- Tasmania Hobart, Launceston and Devonport
In addition to these Conversations the Minister attended a COTA Victoria Conference in the Melbourne CBD where he discussed reforms and received feedback from 100 participants.
People were invited to attend the Conversations and were asked to RSVP to ensure venue safety and to manage catering requirements. Invitations were sent out to COTA individual and organisational members and to Alzheimer’s Australia, Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) and affiliates, National Seniors Australia (NSA), Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), Carers Australia, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Alliance, Legacy, Returned Services League (RSL), One Generation, Security for Women, Young Women’s Council Australia (YWCA), National Rural Women’s Network and Palliative Care Australia for them to invite their members and networks to attend.
In addition COTA liaised with local councils and other community groups as required to make sure the invitations were widely distributed. Invitations were also sent to key provider groups requesting that they be promoted to their clients and residents and that they support these people to attend.
Over 3,400 people attended these Conversations, which ranged from about 40 to around 250 people. The majority of attendees were older people and their carers. In addition there were sometimes aged care workers and service providers in attendance.
This report provides a summary of the Conversations and identifies the common themes and issues that were discussed.