WITH a significant proportion of the population of South Gippsland Shire over 50 years of age and retired from paid employment, the Active Retirees Advisory Committee performs an important role in advising Council.
The group’s volunteer members represent one or more community groups that have a substantial number of active retirees in their membership. These include the Prom Coast U3A, South Gippsland Citizens Advice Bureau, Probus, Men’s Shed and various hall committees, to name a few.
The committee held its first meeting in May 2014, since when it has had input into some of Council’s plans, especially the Active Ageing Plan. Recently members contributed to a public forum on public transport improvements. They urged improvements in the frequency, cross-route coordination and access of existing services, plus consideration of innovative community-based initiatives where there are no regular taxi operators.
“Although our committee addresses the needs of active retirees, our suggestions are also pertinent to young people, especially students and the security of women travelling alone, particularly at night,” notes the group in its public transport submission.
They also suggest extending some of the V/Line coach services that currently terminate in Leongatha, allowing them to go onto Foster if not Yarram, and they recommend the introduction of intra-town bus services and bus stops at facilities such as hospitals and medical precincts.
Representatives of the ARAC gave a brief presentation to Council last Wednesday. They thanked Council for the opportunity to contribute constructive advocacy. A recent example of this was the suggestion to include scooter parking near the V/Line bus stop in the plans for Foster’s streetscape.
The committee will be making detailed recommendations to Council. In the meantime, they are asking Council as a priority to:
- Regard retirees as active engaged people, rather than the common stereotype of a frail aged person;
- Ensure that township planning requirements for major redevelopments include provision of well-lit undercover parking for mobility scooters, with battery recharging facilities where possible; and toilet facilities close to the main bus stop in townships;
- Ensure that planning of streets and footpaths adjacent to the entrances of bushland and parks include adequate vehicle parking, and that there are toilet facilities in recreational areas wherever practicable;
- Publish surveys as inserts or cut-outs in local newspapers, as well as on Council’s website, and where retirees are the prime target, seek input from the ARAC.