This report is an account of the Southern Grampians Positive Ageing research project and community activities held at RMIT University in Hamilton in 2011 and 2012. RMIT University’s Regional and Rural Research group is located at Hamilton and hosts the Potter Rural Community Research Network (PRCRN). The PRCRN is concerned with the increasing complexity of challenges facing rural enterprises and communities. The theme, Positive Ageing in a Rural Context, was suggested by community leaders interviewed as part of the PRCRN process of identifying research themes.
The report describes how and why the Positive Ageing project was established, the approach used and what was found. The report is intended to be used by others in the community to keep the conversation going – to understand the experience of ageing and to encourage people to become involved in enabling ageing in our community to be a meaningful and satisfying experience.
The theme introduced a wide range of questions encompassing the nature of ageing itself, who are the aged, and who should be consulted? The research group undertook to work with older people in a participatory research approach to address these and other questions. The research group consulted broadly, worked with and was guided by those involved, including older citizens themselves. The first stage of the Positive Ageing project consisted of initiating a conversation between older people themselves, those who work with them (such as health and financial services), local government, and academics interested in ageing in regional Australia.
As demonstrated on several occasions during this process, elders in our community are highly informed and articulate individuals with a wealth of experience and wisdom to impart. They indicated that they want to be involved in civic life and that age should not be a barrier to participation.
The report includes a summary of the planning process, the context in which the project was undertaken, feedback from expo and conference participants, and summaries of conference presentations. Finally, it gives a brief overview of the survey that was conducted. A list of recommendations from the project follows on the next page. We hope that by sharing the findings of our project we will encourage a more open and braver conversation about ageing in our community. By deepening our understanding about the “lived rural experience” of ageing, planning for positive ageing will be the shared responsibility of the individual and the community.