Tweed leads on ageing challenges

TWEED'S status as the capital of the oldies is giving the council reason to sing its own praises. The Tweed Shire Council believes it can teach the Federal Government a thing or two about planning for an ageing population.

Council's manager of community and cultural services, Gary Corbett, has told the seven newly-elected councillors that the council was at the forefront of dealing with an ageing population.

That's because 22.5 per cent of people here are aged over 65, compared to a national average of 13 per cent. "The Federal Government has identified the need for government agencies to plan for an imminent ageing population," Mr Corbett said.

"However, in Tweed the aged population is already here. Tweed Shire is a little further advanced than much of Australia in identifying and addressing issues."

Mr Corbett said the national average was expected to increase to 23 per cent by 2056.

"In short, Tweed Shire is currently where the rest of Australia will be in approximately 50 years," he said.

"For over 20 years, Tweed has been a retirement haven due to the climate, the extraordinary natural beauty, median housing prices, the large number of caravan parks, manufactured home villages and retirement villages, the large number of registered clubs in the area which provide entertainment and reasonably priced meals, and the considerable opportunities for recreational pursuits."

Mr Corbett said the high number of aged people created economic implications and considerable budgetary pressure on council because the pensioner rate rebate scheme.

In 2007/2008 the council subsidised pensioner rates about $1.5 million.

"Tweed Shire Council and many Tweed organisations, including health services, hospitals, retail businesses and registered clubs have, owing to demand, been addressing the issues and needs of an ageing population at a local level for a considerable time," he said.

Mr Corbett said it should be noted that the NSW Office of Ageing plans to soon relocate from Sydney to Tweed Heads.

The council also provides funding for several staff working specially in aged care.

They include a community worker for aged and disabled people, whose job is partly funded by the State Government.

The council also employs a healthy ageing project officer 14 hours a week, providing information to older people on healthy lifestyles, staying independent and socialising. Mr Corbett said that information was important in allowing them to make informed decisions.

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