Baby boomer retirees need more varied volunteering options that match their passions and skills - and don’t require them to be locked into long-term volunteering commitments and boring training and paperwork.
The eastern suburbs of Adelaide have a high representation of tertiary graduates and people employed in professional, managerial and technical roles.
ERA’s Ageing Strategies project team believes it is now necessary to find innovative ways of harnessing those skills and interests, and enabling Baby Boomers to go on contributing as volunteers.
An innovative local government proposal has been developed by the project team.
This will be put to the Commonwealth Government’s Living Longer, Living Better aged care reform program for funding assistance.
Under the proposal, ERA plans to extend online volunteering innovations developed by the Local Government Association of SA and Volunteering SA.
The new volunteering opportunities would be underpinned by a regional online volunteering platform that would enable volunteers to manage their own volunteering program.
Volunteers would register online their specific skills and interests, sign up for or update their volunteer passport, identify potential volunteering opportunities, undertake online training, and communicate online with peers and volunteer coordinators.
The outcome could be a new lease of life for baby Boomer retires as “professional” volunteers.
The new generation of older people is looking for individualised programs that will enable them to age independently in their own homes and stay connected with their local communities.
They are looking for a broader and more sophisticated range of volunteer roles and increased access to community-based learning opportunities – and they expect local government to provide the answers.
Current social support and community participation programs are over-subscribed and unable to meet the needs of older people who are increasingly socially isolated.
ERA has proposed development of a new model of regional community care that increases choice and control and enables more active engagement in community.
The proposed new model would:
expand the range of opportunities and experiences available for older people;
work in partnership with the Australian Centre for Social Innovation and the proposed Wellbeing Institute incorporating the work of Dr Martin Seligman;
support the training and professional development of a new generation of care workers;
enable older people, as volunteer mentors, advisers and trainers, to work alongside TAFE SA and ERA staff to help design and deliver the required training;
meaning that careworkers would be able to respond flexibly and creatively to the needs of this new generation of educated and demanding baby boomers.
The project is consistent with the directions of the Productivity Commission’s report into Caring for Older Australians and the Commonwealth’s Living Longer Living Better policy, which both confirm the importance of independence, choice, connection and participation for older people.
Access to ongoing learning is a major priority for older people
around Australia, but opportunities are increasingly limited with many
courses over-subscribed, too few resources, lack of accessibility and
ERA’s Ageing Strategies project team believes a new business model is required to address the shortage of informal learning opportunities for older people across the ERA region.
The project team is proposing a new Learners’ Market that creates a new style of modern learning for older people.
The Learners’ Market will take the self-organising strategies that have been effective in online social networking and adapt them to a community-based group learning structure.
It would create self-organised networks of learners and teachers who could come together in homes, cafes, libraries and community centres to exchange and share skills, knowledge and interests.
Members would be free to barter, sell or volunteer their skills and time as they chose, depending on the level of interest from potential students in the “learning market”.
This could provide a simple and logical model for addressing the shortage of informal learning opportunities across Australia as a whole, especially given the increasingly high level of online access around the nation.
The proposal is consistent with the recommendations of the
Commonwealth Government’s Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians.