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Seniors Strategic Planning Framework

Last updated: 16/04/2019 8:55 PM
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Seniors Strategic Planning Framework

Government, the broad community and individuals all have a role to play in planning for an age-friendly WA.

As of 30 June 2013, there were more than 440,000 people aged 60 years and over living in Western Australia, representing 17.6 per cent of the population.

By 2050, the number of people aged 65 to 84 years will double and the number over 84 years will quadruple.

This trend is expected to continue for several decades.

By 2021, it is projected that this will have increased by 50 per cent to just under 595,000 people, representing 21 per cent of the total population.

Western Australia's ageing population reflects the combined impact of the ageing of the baby boomer generation, longer life expectancies and decreasing fertility rates.

The seniors' population now spans more than 40 years (from 60 to 100+ years) making it very diverse in terms of health, family, economic, emotional, physical, financial and household circumstances.

The available data1,2 highlight the following:

  • a rapid growth in the population aged 80 years and over, at a rate that is far higher than any other age group
  • a large and growing number of seniors who speak English as a second language. By 2026, around one in five older people in Western Australia will be from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background
  • increasing numbers of seniors living on their own
  • changes in patterns of home ownership and superannuation balances – many retired seniors now own their own home but have small incomes that are only partially self-funded
  • a growth in the 'sandwich generation' as a growing number of seniors and pre-seniors find themselves supporting adult children and grandchildren, as well as caring for their ageing parents
  • increasing numbers of older people in rural areas, with population growth at a more rapid rate than in most major urban and regional centres. This presents challenges particularly for regional communities with dwindling numbers of young people and families
  • seniors working longer, often in a part-time capacity.

(1 Seniors Wellbeing Indicators, 2012; 2 Profile of WA Seniors, 2011)

These changing demographics highlight the growing imperative for all sectors to take action and plan together to respond to the emerging social and economic opportunities and challenges of our ageing population.

Planning principles

Ageing well requires planning to enable older Western Australians to age with dignity, maintain their independence, play active and valued roles and have their rights respected and upheld.

This approach is underpinned by the following principles:

An individual's choices, rights and dignity are fundamental

  • All seniors should be treated with respect and have their contribution recognised
  • Access to timely information and support is important to uphold the rights of seniors to make their own choices
  • Seniors are a diverse group, and 'one size does not fit all'.

Ageing well is a lifelong journey

  • The decisions and choices made throughout life will influence how well we age
  • Planning ahead can help us improve our health and better meet our housing, transport and financial needs in our senior years.

'Ageing in place' benefits everyone

  • Good social and physical infrastructure planning allows people of all ages and abilities to be better connected and contribute to community life
  • Supporting seniors to remain living in their own home and local community helps to build strong, vibrant communities that care for and support each other.

The research tells us that it benefits both seniors and their communities to have opportunities to stay connected, to have a say in the services that affect them, and to remain mentally and physically active. When seniors benefit, the whole community benefits.

Planning Pathways

An ageing and changing WA

Key factors

  • Vulnerability
  • Experience
  • Diversity
  • More singles
  • Seniors as carers
  • High expectations
  • Dementia and other chronic conditions
  • Willingness to help
  • Special needs groups
  • Time
  • Rapid growth in numbers
  • Skill sets
  • Social isolation

Planning needs

  • Inter-generational understanding and respect
  • Housing
  • Physical and mental wellbeing
  • Health care
  • Community participation
  • Work force participation
  • Self-reliance
  • Transport
  • Lifelong learning
  • Financial security

Planning Principles

  • Individual choices, rights and dignity
  • Ageing well is lifelong
  • Ageing in place

Pathways to an age-friendly WA

Key pathways

  • Promoting health and wellbeing
  • Access to essential services
  • Economic security and protection of rights
  • Welcoming and well-planned communities
  • Opportunities to contribute

Key outcomes

  • Being involved
  • Friendly communities
  • Key services and supports

Relationship with other WA legislation, strategies and programs

Health Department

  • 'The Model of Care for the Older Person'
  • 'Health Promotions Strategic Framework'
  • 'Dementia Model of Care 2011'
  • 'Palliative Care Model of Care 2008'
  • 'WA Chronic Health Conditions Framework 2011–2016'
  • 'Falls Prevention Models of Care 2014'
  • 'WA Primary Health Care Strategy 2011'
  • 'Mental Health 2020: Making it personal and everybody's business'

Department of Local Government and Communities

  • 'Vital Volunteering 2011–2016'
  • 'Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework'

Department of Housing

  • 'Affordable Housing Strategy 2010–2020'

Department of Transport

  • 'Public Transport for Perth for 2031'

Department of Planning

  • 'Directions 2031 – and Beyond'
  • 'State Planning Strategy 2050'
  • 'Liveable Neighbourhoods'

Department of Sport and Recreation

  • 'Strategic Directions for the Western Australian Sport and Recreation Industry 2011–2015'
  • 'Fair Play – Strategic Framework for Inclusive Sport and Recreation'
  • 'Active Living for All – A Framework for Physical Activity in Western Australia 2012–2016'

Department of Training and Workforce Development

  • 'Skilling WA: Workforce Development Plan for WA'
  • 'Community Learning in focus: a Strategy for Adult and Community Education in Western Australia 2009–2018'

Disability Services Commission

  • 'Count me in: Disability Future Directions'

Office of Multicultural Interests

  • 'WA Language Services Policy 2014'


  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984
  • Disability Services Act 1983
  • WA Mental Health Act 2014
  • Carers Recognition Act

Planning for an age-friendly WA

Planning for an age-friendly WA means:

  • Promoting health and wellbeing
  • Access to essential services
  • Economic security and protection of rights
  • Welcoming and well-planned communities
  • Opportunities to contribute

An age-friendly community is one which:

  • Recognises the diversity among older people
  • Promotes the inclusion and contribution of older people in all areas of community life
  • Respects the decisions and lifestyle choices of older people
  • Anticipates and responds flexibly to ageing-related needs and preferences

This Framework reflects the recommendations of the United Nations and builds upon national and international developments. Importantly, the Framework is in direct response to the needs of Western Australian seniors as identified through extensive consultation, including:

  • a collective examination of local government Age-Friendly Communities reports
  • a think tank of WA leaders
  • regional consultations undertaken by the Seniors Ministerial Advisory Council
  • the '2011 Profile of WA Seniors'
  • the '2012 WA Seniors Wellbeing Indicators' metropolitan and country consultations on the 'green-paper' version of the Framework.

This document outlines examples of current activity by state government and future directions.

Not all of these actions are the sole responsibility of the state government. Importantly, everyone has a role to play in building an age-friendly WA.

Promoting health and wellbeing

The value of focusing on and investing in strategies to encourage healthy living, both in earlier and later life is universally recognised. Data shows an ongoing trend of longer life expectancy, greater physical activity and declining rate of disability for Western Australian seniors.

What's already in place

  • A range of community education resources promoting healthy and active lifestyles has been made available through agencies including the Departments of Health, Local Government and Communities, and Sport and Recreation.
  • The ten year strategic policy for mental health in Western Australia, 'Mental Health 2020: Making it personal and everybody's business', promotes a strong commitment to progressing prevention and early intervention priorities by complementing and building on existing programs.
  • The 'WA Health Promotion Strategic Framework 2012–2016' sets out strategic directions and priorities for the prevention of chronic disease and injury. The goal is to lower the incidence of avoidable chronic disease and injury by facilitating improvements in health behaviours and environments throughout the life course, supporting ageing well into the future.
  • The National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes identifies priority areas across the life stages to 'close the gap' between Aboriginal health outcomes and the rest of the Australian population – including tackling smoking; providing a healthy transition to adulthood; making Aboriginal health everyone's business; delivering effective primary health care services and better coordinating the patient journey through the health system. The Agreement also recognises the need to work across government to address the underlying social determinants of poor health, including education, housing and employment.
  • Sport and recreational opportunities targeting participation by older people are available through a range of organisations.
  • The Home and Community Care program provides support for frail older people with an ongoing functional disability to remain living at home, participate in social activities and stay connected to their community.

What will help

  • provision of information to support and inform individual life-style planning and decision making, including planning for end of life issues
  • promoting healthy eating and physical activity at all ages
  • ongoing education about the risks of smoking and harmful levels of alcohol use
  • preventive health measures to reduce the risk and impact of chronic disease and injury
  • initiatives to maintain physical functioning and protect against falls and other injuries
  • screening and early intervention for age related conditions, including dementia
  • promotion of mental health and wellbeing and initiatives that prevent the onset of mental illness, and assist the community with identifying and responding to mental illness and/or mental health problems
  • continued expansion of the range of affordable recreational, cultural and creative pursuits available through discounts linked to the WA Seniors Card
  • continued support for seniors' participation in sport and recreation activities designed to meet the unique needs of seniors
  • supports for and engagement with carers
  • development of flexible and innovative accommodation support options that optimise opportunities to support people in the community, that are responsive to changing care needs, and which are able to support older people who have health and behaviour related problems
  • programs that build social and community connectedness such as funding to Community and Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres; Men's Sheds; support for volunteering and community events and festivals that bring people together at a local level.

Where to next

  • Encouraging healthy and active lifestyles across the life-span
  • Supporting people to maintain their independence
  • Building social connections and community participation

Access to essential services

Consultations with seniors have consistently identified that the three essential service areas that impact on their quality of life are health, housing and transport.

The funding and administration of residential aged care places falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Department of Social Services. The number of beds and community-based care packages allocated is determined by Federal benchmarks.

WA Health administers the jointly funded Home and Community Care (HACC) Program, and supports a number of other aged and continuing care programs that aim to reduce hospital admissions and maintain older people at home.

What's already in place


  • The 'WA Primary Health Care Strategy 2011' includes priority strategies to support healthy ageing through promoting independence and mobility; better integrated primary health care to support self-management, optimise health and minimise disability; community care to support older people living independently; and training for an appropriately skilled workforce.
  • The Hospital in the Home and Rehabilitation in the Home programs provide short-term care in the patient's home for health conditions that traditionally needed admission to hospital for treatment, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions and length of stay.
  • WA Health's Elective Services Reform Program supports a range of strategies to reduce the number of patients who have waited longer than the clinically recommended times for surgery in line with the National Elective Surgery Target, while the Four Hour Rule Program, now in place in 17 hospitals, helps to ensure that the majority of patients arriving at emergency departments are seen and admitted, discharged or transferred within a four-hour timeframe.
  • The Friend in Need – Emergency (FINE) program provides older and chronically ill patients living in the community or in residential aged care with an alternative to emergency department or hospital admission through a range of programs, including the Silver Chain Home Hospital.
  • The Residential Care Line provides Residential Aged Care facilities with a seven days a week triage and advice telephone line, and a specialist nurse outreach service that operates 7am to 4pm, seven days a week, to help provide timely assessment and clinical support to reduce the need for hospital and emergency admissions.
  • The Disability and Health Network was launched on 1 November 2012 to address particular disadvantages experienced by people with disability.
  • WA Health has progressed significant reforms across community care, through the development and implementation of single entry-point Regional Assessment Services and the Home and Community Care Wellness model of support which focuses on an individual's strengths and abilities and flexible service responses.
  • Training courses for the health and aged care sector are identified as priority one courses which have informed the State Training Plan 2015–2018 developed by the State Training Board.


  • The Seniors Housing Centre provides independent and expert, free advice on housing options for seniors.
  • The 'Affordable Housing Strategy 2010–2020: Opening Doors To Affordable Housing' aims to increase the supply of affordable housing across Western Australia. Strategies include the development of more affordable entry level properties; low cost rental options for low-to-moderate income tenants; support for increased home ownership through the SharedStart shared equity program and the construction and refurbishment of social housing in remote communities.
  • The Department of Housing provides social housing for low income people in greatest need with no other viable housing option –with approximately 30 per cent of accommodation stock occupied by seniors.
  • The Parliament of Western Australia reformed the Acts, Regulations and Codes of Practice relating to Retirement Villages.
  • A review of the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2006commenced in August
  • 2012. This Act relates to long-stay tenants living in caravans and park homes.


  • The State Government provides a range of transport programs and concessions to eligible seniors, as outlined on the ConcessionsWA website, including:
    • vehicle and driver's licence fee concessions;
    • free and concession based public transport through Transperth;
    • a Pensioner annual free trip voucher;
    • regional transport concessions through Transwa;
    • concessional public transport while interstate.
  • The Country Age Pension Fuel Card, provides eligible income and asset tested pensioners in regional Western Australia with up to $550 per year towards the cost of fuel and/or taxi travel, from participating providers.
  • An ongoing program of fleet upgrades to Perth's bus and train services is improving accessibility for all patrons.
  • The Department of Transport has increased the age for compulsory driver's licence renewals testing requirements from 75 to 80 years. Drivers aged between 75 and 78 years no longer require medical checks to renew their licence.

What will help

  • contemporary approaches to support people with dementia and associated challenging behaviours
  • advocacy to the Federal Government to increase the number of aged care support packages and beds across the state
  • community partnerships to reduce demand on hospital services, such as triaging alternatives, community-based care and aged care alternatives funding models and services that are centred on an individual's needs
  • prioritisation of flexible and affordable training for staff in health, aged and community care, particularly in regional areas
  • initiatives to recruit and support a bilingual and multicultural aged care workforce
  • language services and cultural competency training for staff to address barriers to CaLD older people having access to suitable aged care and other seniors' services
  • regional 'ageing in place' strategies and services, including aged care options and culturally appropriate supports for Aboriginal seniors
  • expansion of community based accommodation and support options for older people with mental health problems and/or mental illness
  • disability awareness training to assist people working in related industries to develop understanding and skills to work with people with disability
  • participation of senior volunteers in relevant programs to mentor people with disability and support their inclusion and participation
  • expansion of aged care residential and community options for older people with mental illness
  • flexible and affordable housing options, including ancillary dwellings and multigenerational housing designs
  • affordable housing models through community and corporate sector partnerships
  • public transport fleet upgrades and expansion to further improve accessibility
  • initiatives to support older people to continue to drive safely and to support the transition from self-driving to other options when required
  • planned and meaningful consultation with older people in service planning through best practice approaches.

Where to next

  • Continuing to improve access to health, housing and transport services, particularly in regional areas
  • Building partnerships with the community sector to provide community services that are responsive, flexible, and innovative
  • Encouraging and enabling good service planning, including promoting a culture of engagement, particularly with groups with special needs

Economic security and protection of rights

As people age, concerns about economic security, personal safety and support in times of need can rise. A strategic approach that ensures the protection and security of seniors while encouraging good planning and self-reliance is important.

What's already in place

  • The WA Seniors Card program is one of the most generous in Australia, offering
  • State Government concessions as well as many business discounts.
  • More than half of State Government concessions and rebates are provided to older people, and include:
    • the Cost of Living Rebate to Seniors Card holders
    • the Energy Assistance Payment
    • a significant range of concessions to pensioners and seniors in relation to home ownership costs, including water and local government rates, and utility charges
    • ConcessionsWA ( which has been established as an online portal for seniors and other eligible groups to easily and quickly identify government rebates and concessions.
  • WA Police and its partners provide crime prevention and safety presentations and information to seniors' groups.
  • WA Police and its partners offer individual support to seniors who have been victims of crime, including the provision of home safety assessments, and in some instances, the supply of personal alarms.
  • The Department of Commerce (Consumer Protection) maintains a strong focus on detecting and alerting the community to scams, many of which are targeted at seniors. The Department's
  • Scamnet ( provides key information on protecting oneself from scams.
  • The Older Person's Rights Service, funded by the Department of Local Government and
  • Communities, provides legal advice and the support of a social worker to seniors on issues, including elder abuse.
  • Advocare receives funding through Home and Community Care to provide a free professional advocacy service to assist older adults living in the community to understand their rights and make any complaints about the services they receive.
  • The Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, a multi-agency network comprising a range of State Government and non-government agencies, oversees the development and delivery of strategies to address elder abuse.
  • The Department of Local Government and Communities provides support to carers through Carers WA in the form of counselling and other assistance.
  • The Disability Services Commission assists people with a disability who are ageing and their carers to plan for major milestones during their lives.
  • Enduring Powers of Guardianship, Attorney and Advance Health Directives enable Western Australians to plan for how decisions about their future lifestyle and health care will be made in the event that they do not have the capacity to make these decisions in the future.

What will help

  • increased community awareness about the rights of older people and the unacceptability of elder exploitation and abuse, and how to prevent and respond to it
  • elder abuse prevention and intervention strategies, including mediation and legal support
  • elder abuse awareness training and education for service providers who are in regular contact with seniors
  • implementation of the WA Language Services Policy
  • increased community awareness about ways to improve individual safety and personal responsibility for crime prevention
  • increased awareness of advance planning mechanisms, including Enduring Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Guardianship, Advance Health Directives and Wills
  • information to support informed planning throughout the life course
  • increased recognition and support for carers
  • recognition for the growing number of grandparents who provide full-time care for their grandchildren
  • concession and subsidy schemes to support seniors who are financially vulnerable
  • community networks to reduce social isolation.

where to next

  • Maximising personal safety through information, programs and support
  • Providing information that will allow people to plan for and develop self-reliance
  • Supporting community members in need

Welcoming and well-planned communities

Consistent feedback from consultations and the Age-Friendly Communities initiative is that people want to stay in their community and, where possible, their own homes as they age. People also want to feel respected and valued in a community that welcomes them.

What's already in place

  • The 'State Planning Strategy 2050' and 'Directions 2031 and Beyond', along with draft sub-regional strategies for the Central Metropolitan Perth, Outer Metropolitan Perth and Peel regions, to help address the urban planning challenges of providing places for employment, housing, infrastructure and services for a population of 3.5 million people.
  • The Planning Commission's 'Liveable Neighbourhoods' outlines the design and assessment of structure plans and subdivision for urban areas and includes planning for seniors' needs.
  • The Liveable Homes initiative of the Disability Services Commission provides a free online resource for people designing new or renovating existing homes to support universal housing design. The goal is to increase the number of private and public homes in Western Australia that are built following universal access principles for people of all ages and abilities to live in or visit with comfort.
  • The Department of Local Government and Communities' Age-Friendly Housing kit, which pre-seniors and seniors can use to assess the suitability and readiness of their current or future home to meet their future needs was released in 2012.
  • The Seniors Housing Centre provides independent advice to seniors considering relocation, enabling seniors to make well informed decisions about their wide range of housing options.
  • The Department of Local Government and Communities is supporting local governments to adopt the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework, to guide the development of
  • Strategic Community Plans and Corporate Business Plans in local government areas.
  • The Department of Local Government and Communities assists local governments around the state to adopt the World Health Organisation's 'Age-friendly Communities' approach to planning for an ageing population.
  • The Department of Local Government and Communities runs and supports programs that promote positive images of ageing and recognise the significant contribution of seniors to the Western Australian community, including the WA Seniors Awards and Seniors Week.

What will help

  • partnerships between governments, developers and designers to promote best practice universal housing, public space and building design
  • housing diversity, affordability and choice in line with local communities' needs and
  • 'Directions 2031'
  • in support of 'Ageing in Place' directions, development of a toolkit to assist local government in planning different types of housing for people within their local area that will suit their needs throughout the lifecycle
  • provisions under the Residential Design Codes of WA which support flexible housing for older people
  • expansion of universally designed housing stock to accommodate people of all ages and abilities
  • distribution of information and guides to assist individuals and families to design their homes and plan for their future housing needs
  • incorporation of age-friendly principles and approaches into local governments' Strategic
  • Community Plans
  • built environment planning and construction, informed by 'designing out crime guidelines'
  • mentoring programs which link the respective skills, knowledge and experience of older and younger generations
  • highlighting the considerable economic and social contribution older people make to the community.

where to next

  • Embedding age-friendly design and consultation processes into infrastructure and social planning
  • Supporting initiatives that bring the generations together, reinforce respect for older people and reduce social isolation
  • Continuing to challenge negative stereotypes about the ageing population

Opportunities to contribute

Whether for financial reasons or for personal satisfaction, many older people are seeking to remain in the workforce or want to be involved in ongoing learning in some form. Many are keen to contribute to the community through volunteering.

What's already in place

  • Compared to 2005, seniors in 2011 were:
    • more involved in the labour force (participation of 60 to 64 year olds increased from 49 to 60 per cent, and 65 to 69 year olds increased from 20 to 26 per cent);
    • more likely to be enrolled in education (increased from 7 to 11 per cent); and still actively involved in volunteer-based activity (around 41 per cent of seniors).3
  • Employees aged 63 and over continue to be the fastest growing group in the workforce with a jobs rate growing steadily at 8.3 per cent per annum, totalling around 543,000 workers, nationwide.
  • In recognition that seniors are working longer, the Seniors Card 'hours of work' eligibility has been increased from 20 to 25 hours or less per week, averaged over a year.
  • Changes to the Worker's Compensation and Injury Management Act, removing the discriminatory provisions regarding worker's compensation cover for those aged over 65 years.
  • Workforce Development Centres provide one-on-one career guidance; information on training courses; referrals to training providers and other services; access to online career development resources and tools; workshops that improve skills and assist in looking for work; and free computer access for job search activities.
  • A range of training and re-training options for seniors are available through the Department of Training and Workforce Development.
  • The Department of Commerce (Labour Relations) provides information for employers and employees on flexible work options for mature aged employees.
  • The 'Aboriginal Economic Participation Strategy 2012–2016' aims to increase the opportunities for Aboriginal people to be engaged in decision making and to share responsibility for economic participation outcomes.
  • 'Community Learning in Focus: a Strategy for Adult and Community Education in Western Australia (2009–2018)' is designed to increase the participation of adults in community and work life. It provides for learning activities that foster personal development, build pathways for adults of all ages into further education, training and/or employment, and enable people who are marginalised or disadvantaged to learn and achieve.
  • The number of seniors enrolled in vocational education or adult community education courses increased by 33% between 2006 and 2011.
  • 'Vital Volunteering 2011–16' documents the initiatives underway to support and promote volunteering in Western Australia.

3 Seniors Wellbeing Indicators, 2012

Opportunities to contribute

Whether for financial reasons or for personal satisfaction, many older people are seeking to remain in the workforce or want to be involved in ongoing learning in some form. Many are keen to contribute to the community through volunteering.

What will help

  • career and training or re-training options and advice to individuals through Workforce Development Centres
  • support for pre-seniors, especially women, to access work and skills training/re-training
  • affordable online and other technology-driven skills training
  • education and vocational training models that recognise differing learning abilities and styles at all ages
  • ongoing strategies to encourage older people to remain in work or return to work, including flexible work conditions, carer and family friendly practices, and transition to retirement strategies
  • encouraging employers to recruit older workers
  • participation in national skills training reform strategies targeting mature age employment
  • learning activities that are non-accredited and non-formal in nature which contribute to the development of a person's skills and knowledge, and encourage social participation
  • implementation of the 'Vital Volunteering Strategy' to enable diverse and flexible volunteering opportunities
  • community education and activities to combat ageism and promote positive yet realistic images of older people, and to celebrate and recognise their continuing contribution to the community
  • encouraging the development of intergenerational mentoring programs to facilitate sharing experiences, learning and skills.

Where to next

  • Providing lifelong learning and retraining opportunities
  • Strategies to encourage mature age employment, education and training
  • Supporting volunteering

The Way Forward

The ideas and directions outlined in this document have been identified through consultation with Western Australian seniors and communities, and reflect established 'best practice' approaches as described by the United Nations.

The directions outlined build on and enhance existing strategies and commitments across State Government and will help inform State Government agencies in their future planning and delivery of services for an ageing population with diverse needs.

Building an age-friendly WA requires input and collaboration across all sectors –including State Government, the Federal Government which has responsibility for income support and aged care, local governments, the business sector, not-for-profit organisations and individuals and families.