Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2014 Contents Kimberley for three years before then and
we presented on the Kimberley Indigenous
Cognitive Assessment Tool (KICA)."
The AAG also "helped form the
bedrock" for the development of
community aged care and the Home and
Community Care system, says Flicker.
"The organisation was very much
involved in the idea that people could be
looked after at home for less cost, and
that it probably was better for them. That
became very much part of the program.
"A lot of work was done through
the 1980s and 1990s and the AAG was
involved in advocating for that part of the
system; focussing on how we organise
community care and support services for
people, how we get people rehabilitated,
how we get them back home," says Flicker.
Howe points to the significant
contribution made to policy and practice
around caring for culturally and ethnically
diverse (CALD) older people. "It's
another area where research has made
a difference in the recognition of the
issues, and the nuances within those
demographics," she says.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
As well as reflecting on the organisation's
successes from its past, many are also
looking ahead to the AAG's future.
Flicker believes the AAG will need to
bolster its advocacy efforts in the areas
of healthcare, residential and community
aged care. "That will be a very important
area in the next few years because it is
becoming a very fiscally problematic area
for the government.
"We'll be trying to argue for efficiency,
whereas government will be trying to cut
costs. So there will be that discussion
about efficiency and what's best for older
people, rather than just trying to get
money out of the system," says Flicker.
For Howe, the challenge will be to
build on the AAG's tradition of influencing
policy. To facilitate that dialogue between
researchers and government, Howe says
it would be worthwhile hosting a policy
forum at the AAG national conferences,
which would bring together policy makers,
bureaucrats, researchers and practitioners.
"Getting research into policy is a bit
like looking for constellations of the stars,"
she says, "but it sure helps if you're out
there watching the stars." n
Prior to this, AAG presidents had
typically relied on the resources and
infrastructure of their respective employer
organisations to help provide the
administration and operations behind the
association, he says.
"When Gary [Andrews] was president,
he used the staff of the Centre for Ageing
Studies. When I was president I used the
staff of the Ageing Research Centre. We
provided the infrastructure for it."
Other examples of the AAG's
maturation as a professional body include
its development of a suite of educational
resources, tools and outlets.
Howe points to the Australasian
Journal on Ageing as a key milestone
in the association's development. "The
journal has been a very useful vehicle for
promoting exchange and information. The
growth of the journal has been one of the
big developments over time," she says.
Similarly, Squires points to the journal
as an incredibly important development;
"Having an academic journal able to
publish a lot of this research, both the
medically-based and the socially-based.
The AAG has been involved with the
journal since the start."
More broadly, Squires says the AAG
has done well at reinventing itself. "It has
been things like the webinars, which are
absolutely fantastic because at their essence
they are bringing good quality information
on all topics across the field of ageing. Using
modern technology you can get terrific
speakers and get that out to people very
easily. It is a great innovation."
Further, she says one of "the backbones
of the AAG" is the educational events
run at the state level. "Taking events to
regional areas has been a long standing
tradition. AAG is very good at putting on
good quality educational events from a
Over the course of its 50 years, the AAG
and its members have helped to bring to
the forefront important issues in ageing
-- such as responding to elder abuse in its
many forms and to the unique needs of
older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender
and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Flicker points to the focus on
indigenous ageing, which began in earnest
in 2005. "We had been working in the
leaders have come from various
professional backgrounds -- ranging from
Barbara Squires, who trained in social
work, to Professor Keith Hill, who trained
as a physiotherapist.
"It has been, right from the beginning,
an organisation made up of people who
were very much aware that you needed a
multidisciplinary approach. A multiplicity
of approaches has been discussed within
the association for a very long time at
conferences, and through the journal,"
Echoing Inall, Broe says that while
doctors were a driving force behind
the formation of the organisation,
professionals from fields such as nursing
and social work have tended to occupy the
presidents' chair in more recent years.
Squires says that while an independent
organisation of geriatric medicine was
subsequently formed, the AAG still has
"quite a number of geriatricians who are
involved because they understand and
are passionate about the multidisciplinary
aspects of working with frail older people."
For Flicker, the inclusion of various
professional groups and a focus on social
gerontology has brought "a different
perspective on things."
"It has also brought that government
perspective and that service organisational
perspective, so that has been an influence
for a long time," he says.
A PROFESSIONAL BODY
One of the other significant developments
in the AAG's journey has been its
evolution from a volunteer-run
organisation to a fully-fledged professional
body; an evolution that involved the
securing of ongoing funding, the move
from an overseeing council to a board, and
the employment of full time staff.
Broe describes helping to establish the
modern organisational structure as his
contribution to the AAG. "It was very much
an amateur body with no paid staff and no
support systems," he says of the earlier
years. "Until, in conjunction with the Office
for an Ageing Australia, we got a grant of
$120,000 a year to employ a chief executive
and we set up a formal structure."
He credits Kevin Vassarotti, then a
senior officer within the Office for an
Ageing Australia, for assisting with the
professionalising of the AAG.
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