About the Byron Healthy Project
The Byron Community Centre have secured federal funding from the Department of Health and Aging to develop a community-based volunteer program over a period of three years.
The community-based volunteer program objective is to use creative therapy and a person-centred approach to facilitate meaningful interactions between people from different generations and cultures to celebrate older people, their achievements and life-long contribution to our community through a series of group activities and on-going Social Groups. These Groups would serve as hubs for social networking, information sharing and referral.
The Program will link services, groups and community celebrations, such as Seniors Week, to raise the visibility of older people in the wider community and promote positive messages about healthy ageing.
Trends indicate that the rapid aging of society, and the corresponding increase in the population of seniors with dementia, will create enormous pressures on families, communities and the health care system. Strategies that facilitate the creation of age and dementia friendly communities, and that complement aged care services are clearly a high priority.
As our population ages and jobs remain scarce volunteering projects that promote social inclusion and connection are vital to our community. The Northern Rivers relies on volunteers for many of our health, community, environmental and social services (NRRP, 2011). The Byron Shire has a high rate of volunteerism at 26.7% which is higher than the NSW State average of 17.1%. Utilising volunteers, this project will help to fill this gap by creating a platform for older people’s active involvement in social, cultural and recreational activities.
The need for social inclusion and a sense of belonging was identified by the community (Byron Shire Council’s Draft Positive Ageing Strategy 20012-2016) as ‘extremely important for the health and wellbeing of older people’. Older residents expressed concern about the risk of isolation and wanted an ‘increased range of opportunities for social and recreational activities where new friendships could be formed and improvements to physical and mental health could be achieved’.
This program will respond to the existing and emerging challenges of the rapid rise of the ageing population in Byron Shire by promoting a culture of healthy positive ageing whilst fostering an ageing-friendly and inclusive community.
Key Project Goals
- Increase opportunities for older people’s participation in the community by providing assisted recreational activities and social support
- Promote social inclusion and foster a sense of belonging and community connection for older people
- Creating a platform for intergenerational bridge-building and sharing of wisdom
- Increase access to information, services and activities that support healthy ageing through partnerships between organisations and aged care services.