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Australia’s ageing population highlights housing and care challenges


The face of Australia is changing, and it’s getting distinctly older. The Centre for Population’s 2023 Population Statement, just released by the Albanese Government, is putting a spotlight on significant challenges related to housing and care. With an ageing population, the need for suitable living arrangements, healthcare, and affordability has never been more significant.

Daniel Gannon, the Retirement Living Council Executive Director, shed light on the urgency of the situation. “Australia is ageing, and this presents challenges around housing, care and affordability,” he said, pointing out the looming increase in the nation’s elderly population. “There are currently 2 million people over the age of 75 around the country, but by 2040, this cohort will increase to 3.4 million.”

This demographic shift is not without its consequences. Gannon highlights the wide-reaching effects, “These changes will have implications for the nation’s socio-economic outlook, including increased demand for healthcare, social services and aged care services.”

The housing pressure in Australia continues to mount, underscored by the necessity for age-friendly infrastructure and suitable housing options for the elderly. In response to these challenges, the Retirement Living Council put forth the Better Housing for Better Health report, which showcases the dual benefits for both consumers and governments. Gannon emphasised the advantages, explaining, “This report has found that retirement villages across the country save the commonwealth government a billion dollars every year by delaying entry into aged care facilities through better designed homes that lead to fewer trips, falls and interactions with healthcare systems.”

Moreover, the practice of ‘rightsizing’, where older Australians move into more appropriate homes, brings about auxiliary benefits. “And when Australians ‘rightsize’, their homes re-enter the market, benefiting singles, couples and growing families, helping to close the supply gap,” Gannon pointed out, signifying a potential boon for the housing industry.

The implications of these demographic dynamics are far-reaching, influencing aspects of wellbeing beyond housing. Residents in retirement communities, according to the RLC’s report, have marked improvements in their quality of life. “Beyond just the housing benefits, residents of retirement communities are 41 per cent happier, 15 per cent more physically active, and experience reduced levels of loneliness and depression,” Gannon noted.

With these insights, the RLC has proposed to the Commonwealth Government to include retirement communities as a pivotal aspect of the Housing Australia Future Fund. This integration aims to achieve the target of constructing 1.2 million well‐located new homes nationwide by the year 2029, ensuring that Australia’s ageing population isn’t left behind in the country’s quest for a better, more inclusive future.

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