As a general matter of existential exigencies, older people, irrespective of location in Australia, are more likely to be individuals who have complex health challenges, will need a diverse range of support services, and experience social isolation, loneliness, ageism (age discrimination) and abuse. However, the formulation of this Strategy has demonstrated that while the North West Region shares with other WA regions the common regional need for additional infrastructure and services for its aged community, its real challenges arise more from cultural and geographical issues rather than its number of ageing citizens. The North West Region’s demographic profile does not reflect the ageing population trend that applies nationally and across the rest of regional WA. In most rural communities, the population is rapidly ageing, and it is predicted that by 2026, 24% of Australian rural populations will be 65 years and over. The North West Region is currently an exception to the aforesaid trend.
Low population density and remote locations pose significant barriers to most ageing and aged care options. Accessible services and consumer choices are generally limited. Simply articulated, under current circumstances and arrangements, most North West residents (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents) not only have to leave their homes, but indeed their community, country and the region if they wish or are required to access many aged care services.
The North West is a unique region with a population of older persons who have enormous diversity of reality. They vary in their capacities, aspirations, abilities, contributions, needs and wants. In addition, the regional mosaic of small remote settlements is a major challenge.
The formulation of this North West Ageing and Aged Care Strategy is a result of a joint initiative by the RDA Pilbara and RDA Kimberley. The aforementioned organisations exist to provide a focus on regional economic and social development, and thus have a major commitment to the planning and implementation of strategies and actions that enhance economic and community wellbeing, including for ageing members from the diverse range of North West communities.