Roadmap for the future of Community Services in the Illawarra

John Ajaka says it's important the right services are available to help peope living longer, also being healthy and happy .

John Ajaka says it's important the right services are available to help peope living longer, also being healthy and happy .

AS THE region becomes increasingly popular for retirees, the Minister for the Illawarra has emphasised that appropriate services must be made available to serve Kiama's future ageing population.

The Illawarra Forum hosted an event at The Pavilion, Kiama last Thursday, focusing on the community services industry.

The "Roadmap for the future of Community Services in the Illawarra" aimed to bring leaders from across the community services industry and its stakeholders together to develop a shared vision for the industry's future.

According to the Illawarra Forum, the community services industry is part of the largest employment sector in the Illawarra, with 35 per cent growth projected over the next 10 years.

According to the Illawarra Forum, the community services industry is undergoing a period of unprecedented change, such as reforms and reviews at both national and state level.

These reforms included the National Disability Insurance Scheme; reviews of Home and Community Care and aged care, community legal centres, health NGOs and mental health delivery.

Minister for Ageing, Disability Services and the Illawarra John Ajaka spoke at the event.

He said an important focus was how various groups from within the vulnerable sector could combine to assist those most vulnerable.

"From the perspective of Minister for Ageing, our seniors (are important)," he said.

"From the perspective of Minister for Disability Services, what's occurring with the NDIS and other aspects, you have issues such as abuse being faced by some of our seniors, we've got the issue of homelessness, issues of domestic violence, disability services that the NDIS service provided is being able to assist.

"There's issues in relation to housing."

He said some of these issues could become more prevalent in an area like Kiama due to its significant ageing population.

"People want to retire in the Illawarra; people want to retire in areas such as Kiama. But of course that does bring an ever-ageing population, and the great news is that stats clearly show we're all living longer.

"But there's no point living longer if we don't live a healthy and active lifestyle.

"To do that, we've got to ensure that the appropriate services are available."

He said the roadmap would provide solutions to some of these issues.

"So, unless government and organisations and communities sit down together at a roundtable forum and say, 'these are the issues, how can we work together? How can we move forward? How can we help more people?'

"That's what I hope to get out of this; some great ideas and suggestions of how we can work together."

Illawarra Forum CEO Nicky Sloan said the event had been a success, and they expected to host more in the future.

She said the cross-pollination which occurred had been vital.

"It's the first one we've ever done so broadly," she said.

"One of the key outcomes was that we managed to bring together people from really diverse parts of the industry - children and disability, homelessness, aged care, the whole gamut.

"People exploring new ways of working with agencies they hadn't worked with before ... To network with people they wouldn't normally.

"We've got some really great projects that will benefit people in new ways.

"Even though in different parts of our industry, we can share a vision for where we want the industry to go, and develop pathways to get there," Ms Sloan said.

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