A $34 million centre to help transform the way Australia supports its ageing community has been established at Adelaide’s Flinders University with a key advocacy group calling it much-needed “shot in the arm”.
The project is being backed by the federal government and brings together the aged care industry, older people themselves and the nation’s experts to develop innovative products and services.
It is supported by 73 collaborative partners including consumer advocacy and representative groups, aged care service providers, research organisations, commercial partners, social enterprise and workforce development organisations and the South Australian government.
University vice-chancellor Colin Stirling said its work would help develop the capability of Australia’s aged care workforce and translate research and innovation into best practice.
“Dementia, restorative care and rehabilitation, mental wellbeing, and social isolation have all been identified as priority areas for the centre in its first year,” Professor Stirling said.
“It’s carefully considered, it’s comprehensive, and crucially, it will ensure the voices and needs of older people and their families are central and are heard.”
National Senior Australia chief executive John McCallum said the aged care sector had rightly been under heavy scrutiny and criticism through the royal commission and needed an energy boost to move to a new level.
“Australian aged care really needed this shot in the arm,” he said.
“Every industry needs a practical research base and aged care is one of Australia’s fastest-growing industries.”
The centre, which will be fully operational from January, will employ 30 staff and deliver 600 internships for aged care workers as well as funding 60 research grants to improve aged care.
Professor of health ageing Sue Gordon, who will lead research activities, said the new centre was a “once in a generation opportunity” to transform the way Australia supported its ageing society.
“The most important outcome will be to drive growth in the provision of aged care that is aligned with innovation and based on increased workforce capacity and capability, enabling change that is safe, delivers high-quality outcomes and increases the opportunity for all Australians to enjoy healthy, well-supported ageing,” she said.
Federal Minister for Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said the centre was an important investment in improving the quality of aged care services.
“This is a big step forward when it comes to ensuring the needs of older Australians in care are not just met, but exceeded,” he said.
The government will provide its funding over the next three years with a view to the centre being self-sufficient from July 2024.