Ms Robina Crook, Associate at HASSELL joins us at this year’s International Urban Design Conference to discuss “Save our minds, bodies and souls, not just our town”.
A tale of how a small rural community taught their urban cousin a thing or two about “Building an Age Friendly Community”
When Ian McCabe, CEO of the Shire of Wyalkatchem, requested the Western Australian Planning Institute of Australia assist them to address the complex challenge of an ageing community, we jumped at the opportunity to help (1).
When you are the CEO of a local rural shire you are not just advocating for the citizens of a community, often you will have a personal connection. The Shire of Wyalkatchem is 194km north east of Perth. It is a community of only 516 souls in 314 private dwellings; with a handful of those dwellings forming the town centre. More than 46% of the “Wylie-ites” are aged 55 years or more, with a median age of 53 years. Ageing infrastructure combined with catering for an aged population is a major issue for the Shire.
With issues associated with an ageing population becoming a daily reality the Shire of Wyalkatchem took the lead. They invited local government community development officers and chief executives from around the Western Australian Wheatbelt to address a common issue “Building for an Age Friendly Community”
The people of Wyalkatchem are predominately farmers and a few town’s folk, with no particular interest in urban design but a passion for community. They are however a very pro-active community. When the only butcher closed in town, the community came together (2). In drought stricken times, the farmers still managed to diversify and learn new skills becoming master chefs in all things meat. It was this determination to keep their community alive that has driven the decision to “Build for an Age Friendly Community”.
In a workshop environment, local government community development officers and chief executives embraced urban design philosophies to identify age friendly strategies for this passionate, be it small country town:
- Guidelines for the Development of Dementia Friendly Communities (3)
- Healthy Active by Design (4)
- Healthy Built Food Environments (5)
- Curtin University Universal Design Guidelines (6)
This is the tale of David and Goliath, unperturbed by the massive challenge ahead a small town has started the journey to create the type of community they want to grow old in.
The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017.