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Age-friendly planning needed for multicultural Darwin.

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Planners and builders in Darwin - and across Australia - would have to take radical new approaches to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse older population, the Member for Solomon, David Tollner, said today.

Mr Tollner was representing the Minister for Ageing, Senator Santo Santoro, in delivering the main address in the Darwin leg of the of the Australian Government’s National Speakers Series: A Community for All Ages - Building the Future.

Mr Tollner said that the older population of Australia was becoming increasingly diverse in its cultural and linguistic background.

“We need to take into account the growth of Australia’s ageing population and the diversity of ethnic groups within that segment, all of whom will have different interests, expectations and needs,” he said.

By 2011, the proportion of older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds aged 65 or over is projected to increase from 18 per cent in 1996 to 23 per cent. However, in percentage terms, the fastest growing ethnic populations were projected to be in Darwin, increasing by 129 per cent over the 15-year period.

“The challenge for planners, builders, designers and others who must prepare for these significant changes is to ensure that not only will there be good housing and environmental design across all age groups, but that it is culturally inclusive,” Mr Tollner said.

“The planners in Darwin also need to consider ways of attracting those about to retire to stay in the city and in their community.”

“The planning decisions being made now for our cities need to recognise these concerns and reflect the practical needs of our ageing population.

“The Northern Territory had its own challenges, where remoteness and access to services are, and would continue to be, particular problems. For those in the outback, increasing age or disability was often made worse by distance from services and family,” he said.

The National Speakers Series has traveled to all Australian capital cities and some regional centres in the past six months. For more information, see:

Media Contact: Michael Kauter PH :(08) 8981 3434

M: 0401 119789 F: (08) 8981 8731

23 March 2006