ERH and C4EM share PhD at LaTrobe University conference

By Charmayne Allison

ECHUCA locals were front and centre at LaTrobe University Rural Health School in Bendigo recently when they delivered the opening address at the school's 10th anniversary conference.

More than 150 delegates travelled from Albury, Shepparton, Mildura, Sydney and Melbourne campuses for the event.

Echuca Regional Health's Dr Cath Lees and C4EM chief executive Nina O'Brien kicked off the event by giving a joint presentation, revealing both organisations are about to embark on a three-year LaTrobe PhD: ‘Ageing well in Echuca Moama'.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 35 per cent of people in Echuca-Moama will be aged over 60 years compared to 23 per cent in Victoria by 2036.

Additionally, two-thirds of the population growth will be people aged over 60.

In Murray River Council alone, a staggering 46 per cent of people is forecast to be aged over 60 by 2036 - a growth of 11 per cent.

While in Campaspe Shire, 31 per cent of people will be aged over 60 by 2036, with a larger cohort of people but smaller percentage growth of 2.4 per cent.

“While this represents an increase of 4220 people aged over 60, it is important we see this as opportunity, not an encumbrance for the local community,” Ms O’Brien said.

“The ageing well project will develop a contemporary, locally driven view of how older people wish to live and help articulate the support and infrastructure they require to age well.”

The study will also reflect the strategic direction of ERH, including a commitment to increased community engagement and developing partnerships with the local community.

“Building community partnerships that actively respond to local demographic changes provide an important opportunity for ERH to work alongside local people to improve the health of the community and respond to the wider determinates of health,” ERH chief executive Nick Bush said.

The study will result in a solid evidence base of data, insights, innovations and recommendations for community-based action to ensure locals over 60 age well.

These will include advocacy for better infrastructure, representations to government for improved services, economic participation and social connection initiatives and a review of housing needs.

The research project is due to start in early 2020.