Of an age­ing pop­u­la­tion with new eco­nomic strate­gies

The West Australian - - NEWS -

is­sue be­cause ur­ban de­sign, trans­port sys­tems and ac­cess to ser­vices in these lo­ca­tions tend to be less suit­able for re­tirees.

And the dis­tance from ma­jor em­ploy­ment cen­tres cre­ates a bar­rier for older peo­ple who would like to re­main in the work­force.

This doesn’t have to be a bad news story. There are lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties to be em­braced by hav­ing an older pop­u­la­tion. As one woman at a Com­mit­tee for Perth event, where we pre­sented the find­ings of our age­ing pop­u­la­tion re­port proudly said, “I’m over 65 and I’m not old.” She rightly re­ceived a round of ap­plause. We are liv­ing longer and we’re also health­ier.

Tra­di­tion­ally, strate­gies for man­ag­ing an age­ing pop­u­la­tion fo­cus on two goals, min­imis­ing the eco­nomic im­pacts and har­ness­ing the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of an age­ing pop­u­la­tion. Most poli­cies have fo­cused on min­imis­ing the im­pacts. But there are pos­i­tive al­ter­na­tives. We just need to in­no­vate, adapt, take ad­van­tage of new tech­nol­ogy, cut red tape, en­gage with the pri­vate sec­tor and max­imise pub­lic sec­tor ef­fi­cien­cies.

Strate­gies that could be im­ple­mented in­clude in­tro­duc­ing tax and fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives to en­cour­age older peo­ple to re­main in the work­force, pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives for em­ploy­ers to re­tain older work­ers, de­vel­op­ing new and in­no­va­tive busi­nesses associated with health­care prod­ucts and ser­vices, en­cour­ag­ing en­trepreneur­ship among older Aus­tralians, in­creas­ing and recog­nis­ing vol­un­teer­ing and phi­lan­thropy among older Aus­tralians, re­duc­ing the cost of pub­lic ser­vice de­liv­ery and the avail­abil­ity of the aged pen­sion. As in­di­vid­u­als we need to be re­al­is­tic about the re­tire­ment we can af­ford and the care we are pre­pared to pay for. With the great­est de­mo­graphic shift upon us, the gov­ern­ment can­not pro­vide all that we want.

Now is the time to have the con­ver­sa­tions about what we need.

Mar­ion Fulker is chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Com­mit­tee for Perth

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