We’re getting older – let’s get it right.

Our population is ageing - but what are we doing about it that reflects the aspirations of our older population? It’s about time we started thinking about how to design our public spaces and housing to be inclusive of all ages. Here are some great spaces, places and groups that we found while completing an Integrated Ageing Strategy for Gladesville.

When we consult with people over 65, the main thing they tell us is that they don’t want to have to do things, or live, in “senior specific” centres, housing, and facilities. The attitude to ageing has changed - noone wants to be thought of as “old” anymore!

We need to design our public spaces and housing to be inclusive of all ages. Or just simply available for community led initiatives.  It’s about time we started to be more creative about ways to deliver services. And it’s about time we started acknowledging the skills and knowledge older people can contribute to make our society, and our communities better.

Here are 6 places, ideas and happenings that are making our communities more age inclusive. And let’s face it, they make our communities more inclusive for all of us.

1. tranSIT – Somewhere to take a rest and check the bus times

tranSIT is a hybrid walking waypoint system developed at Monash University, for urban environments, combining seating with wayfinding and street-lighting. Staying true to the principles of universal design, it is designed to improve the walkability of cities for people of all ages. To encourage walking in the local community, basic walking times to popular nearby destinations are provided, along with QR code access to maps and further information.

2. Technology – extra time at the crossing

One complaint we hear a lot when we talk to older people is that as you age, it’s harder to get across busy roads in the time it takes for the lights to change. Singapore has come up with a solution that allows seniors with cards to swipe at the light and get an extra 3 to 13 seconds to cross the road. Wonder how our car crazy society here would cope with that?


3. Hipster “meals on wheels” food trucks

The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation launched the North County Senior Connections food truck program Nov. 10 to serve needy seniors in a modern, positive and empowering way.

“Seniors don’t want to be made to feel old or dependent. Food trucks are hip, so this makes them feel young,” said Christy Wilson, the foundation’s executive director.


4. Taking action into your own hands – China’s Dancing Grannies and Eastwood Tai Chi Group

Dancing in public — a form of exercise that boasts roughly 100 million adherents in China, most of them middle-aged and retired women — has become a flashpoint in the country’s drive to urbanize.  Squeezed by development, China’s dancing seniors have been forced to take their dancing to public squares, parking lots and other areas where sound from their portable sound-systems often carry over into the homes of nearby residents. Some residents weren’t happy, but what are you to do when public dance spaces get taken away?


Eastwood Tai Chi group, making things happen without  intervention

With no formal flat surface to perform Tai Chi, the Eastwood Tai Chi Friendship group meet under the canopy in the Eastwood mall every day. Around 50 culturally diverse people come every day without any intervention from Council.

5.Shipping container housing for young and old, Vancouver

A solution to Sydney’s low cost housing shortage for young and old. Shipping containers are already popular homes and business, but Vancouver has created a social housing complex for older women from them. Pretty cool, sustainable, and cheap and why not in Sydney?


6. Making use of underutilised private spaces to meet

With a lack of community spaces to meet, talk, knit, philosophise, older people in these communities meet in private shopping centre food courts at quiet times each day. It activates the space and is more preferable than being stuck inside an ageing seniors centre. Things don’t have to be organised by government, older people just need to feel “welcome” to get a group happening in public spaces.

These chess players take over the food court in Sydney’s Town hall station every afternoon to play chess.

These Greek men meet every day at the Muffin Break in Gladesville to talk about life, Greek and Australian News, and philosophy.