Gov­ern­ment must look at ways to em­brace the op­por­tu­ni­ties

The West Australian - - NEWS - Mar­ion Fulker

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

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