Government must look at ways to embrace the opportunities
There’s some old advice that suggests we should never talk about sex, politics and religion.
I think there’s another topic that has somehow been added to that list — getting old. And it’s not just around the dinner tables where conversations aren’t happening, it doesn’t appear to be taking place with policy and decision-makers, either.
Unless this changes, the opportunities presented by having an ageing population will be lost and instead we will have to manage what’s popularly described as an ageing tsunami.
The Productivity Commission has even predicted that WA will find itself in a demographic environment that is entirely unfamiliar to us.
As every politician knows, the numbers don’t lie and here’s what they’re telling us — by 2060, one in four West Australians will be aged over 65.
At the same time there will also be very high growth rates among our “oldest old”, with 25 people aged 100 or over for every 100 children aged under one.
By 2100, the number of dependants will rise from 49 per 100 people of working age to 79.5 per 100 people, putting a lot of pressure on government revenue, with fewer people working and paying taxes and more people relying on the pension.
A snapshot shows that the highest proportion of people over 65 are in the Town of Claremont and the City of Mandurah, where they make up more than 20 per cent of the residents. The highest densities of people aged 65-plus are in the Town of Claremont and City of Subiaco, with more than 400 people aged over 65 per square kilometre. The most significant growth in the number and proportion of people aged over 65 is in Peel and Joondalup.
Interestingly, most older people in Perth and Peel “age in place”, and when they do move it’s usually within their local area. So as outer suburbs become more established, their populations will age.
This could be a significant