In 2010, Peter Costello released the Inaugural “Intergenerational Report” which gave us sharp reality check on the fallout from Australia’s ageing population. The report predicted that the steep increase in fertility rates after the Second World War would see the Baby Boomer generation emerge as the most influential cohort in our nation’s history. Costello predicted that if we didn’t plan for it, that influence could prove devastating.
And now it’s here – the youngest of the Baby Boomer generation turned 71 this year and within a decade the majority of this country’s wealth will be controlled by people who have retired. They are also the largest proportion of outright homeowners – unfortunately, most of their homes are not built for their needs nor their preferences.
Authorities at all levels of Government have, in the main part, paid lip service to the planning of multigenerational communities. As a result, the provision for accommodation for older people has played second fiddle to more lucrative traditional residential developments. The Federal Government projects that we need 84,000 new aged care beds in the next decade, requiring an investment of more than $35 billion. We are falling dangerously behind those targets.
However, there are signs that attitudes might be changing. Before being elected to office this year, the Western Australian Labor Party made a commitment to facilitate the development of aged care and seniors accommodation for older Western Australians. This week, the Minister for Transport, Planning & Lands, Rita Saffioti, revealed the Government’s plans to release State owned sites specifically for the delivery of accommodation for the aged. The first site is in the highly prestigious Western Suburbs representing some of the most valuable land in the country.
Initiatives of this nature will be paramount across the entire country if Australia is to be prepared for the greatest demographic shift in our history.