Brisbane offers Gold to its Seniors

Abseiling, plane flying lessons, roller blading, sea kayaking, South American dance, Tai Chi, bush walks, belly dancing and trails riding are not the activities you would normally associate with older Australians. In Brisbane, however, these are options, along with 40 others, which are offered to the senior citizens as part of an innovative scheme which challenges the accepted notions of age appropriate activity.

The GOLD (Growing Old Living Dangerously) program is offered four times a year. It seeks to teach new skills and enhance or revive existing ones. The courses are offered either free of charge or at a low cost and have proved to be enormously successful.

The opening of bookings for the winter program led to 13,500 enquiries within the first half hour at Brisbane City Council's Call Centre. The courses on offer are run by a variety of independent instructors, volunteers, private companies and community groups.

This allows GOLD to make full use of the sporting, recreational and multicultural diversity which exists in the city. The scheme costs Brisbane City Council approximately $100,000 a year.

The return on this investment is an enviable quality of life for its older residents and considerable kudos for the Council which enjoys an approval level among its older residents that many other local authorities would envy.

The GOLD scheme, although run by one of the country's largest Councils, demonstrates the desire and expectation of so many older people to remain active, both intellectually and physically into their later years.

The program is successful because of its breadth and imagination and because it has tapped into the expertise and opportunities present in the local community.

These elements are replicable in many local areas throughout the country and could be developed in response to a growing expectation of a better quality of life for older Australians.