By 2050, the number of Western Australians over the age of 65 is set to double, with the number over 85 set to quadruple. Some will be living healthy active lives, and continuing to work beyond retirement age and many will be carers and volunteers. Others will experience declining health and mobility and reduced cognitive function and will require increased access to health services and support.
Housing plays a critical role in supporting quality of life and wellbeing in older age. Appropriately designed housing can support people to live independently for longer, with less reliance on services. Well-planned and located housing can facilitate connection to community, support social and economic participation and reduce social isolation. This has benefits for individual's mental and physical health and can also contribute to vibrant multi-age communities that can support each other.
Some seniors, especially those in full home ownership, have the financial resources to choose where and how they live. Unfortunately, an increasing proportion of older Western Australians are facing difficulties accessing appropriate, affordable housing.
Older people are increasingly vulnerable to housing stress because of their fixed incomes. This includes people who have not achieved outright home ownership at retirement age, those struggling in the private rental market, people who wish to remain in their own home but struggle to find the supports or home modifications to do so and people who are looking to purchase or rent appropriate and affordable housing.
The Housing Authority is tackling this challenge by developing a Seniors Housing Strategy. The Strategy aims to enable older Western Australians on low to moderate incomes to have and sustain available, affordable and appropriate housing post-retirement, so they can age well in their community.
The Strategy is being developed as a companion piece to the Affordable Housing Strategy and will provide a framework for working collaboratively across government, industry and the not-for-profit sector.
"Housing cannot do this alone,” said Manager Housing Policy, Natalia Gemmell. “A lot of the policy levers that will make a difference to seniors sit outside Housing’s portfolio, so we need to work collaboratively across sectors to have an impact."
Consultation has been underway with local government, peak bodies, including Shelter WA, the Council on the Ageing (COTA WA), Aged and Community Services Western Australia and the Western Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS) and other stakeholders from the private and not-for-profit sectors on how best to address future housing concerns in Western Australia. Shelter WA has supported the process by holding morning teas with low income seniors in metropolitan and regional areas of WA, and by conducting an online survey of seniors housing needs.
The Minister for Housing, Racing and Gaming, Brendon Grylls, launched a discussion paper today which will help to identify and shape key initiatives under the Strategy.
The discussion paper is being distributed to key stakeholders in state and local government, and the not-for-profit and private sectors that have an interest in the housing needs of older Western Australians.
We encourage input from a wide range of stakeholders. The paper can be accessed here. The closing date for submissions is Friday 16 December 2016.
Submissions can be provided online, via email to email@example.com or by post to Head Office, 99 Plain Street, East Perth.
For any further queries, please visit the Seniors Housing Strategy page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.