Older residents given the opportunity to have their say on what matters

LISTENING: COTA SA's country programs officer Helen Morley (left), Keith residents Claire Martin and Sheryl Hunt, and COTA SA's chief executive Jane Mussared standing outside of the town's IGA.
LISTENING: COTA SA's country programs officer Helen Morley (left), Keith residents Claire Martin and Sheryl Hunt, and COTA SA's chief executive Jane Mussared standing outside of the town's IGA.

When it comes to learning about what someone needs, it is always best to go directly to the source - and that is what COTA SA has done.

A peak body for promoting the rights of older South Australians, COTA SA hosted its 'Country Conversations' listening post at Keith on Wednesday, allowing for older locals to have their say on the issues affecting them.

Chief executive Jane Mussared, along with country programs officer Helen Morley, were able to speak to a number of locals over the course of nearly two hours, and gained an insight into what the town values.

Ms Mussared said the listening post was a great way to obtain important information, as it allowed people to give their impressions and provide useful feedback.

Many older locals gave feedback over the two-hour period, and it was clear to see that many residents were on the same page when it comes to what is important to them.

"The feedback from the people of Keith is that it is a great place to live, the community spirit is very high, and there are a lot of people that are very involved within the community," Ms Mussared said.

"We have found that it is very important to keep the health services strong. Having a physio in town is helpful, having massage therapists is important, but having a permanent general practitioner is the key."

Ms Mussared said it is important to hear from regional voices, as sometimes organisations can be very city-centric, resulting in many voices not being properly heard.

"More than a quarter of older South Australians live outside metropolitan Adelaide. We believe that we a still a bit too Adelaide-centric when we think about older people," she said.

COTA SA have asked the State Government to develop a rural ageing strategy to plan ahead when it comes to things such as; health services, sport, and housing.

"We are also really conscious that we have federal, state and local government elections next year, and so it is important that we are informed about what it is that older people want," Ms Mussared said.

"We are independent, so we are not aligned with any particular party. We are just getting out and talking to people to see what matters."

Over the course of three days (August 23-25), COTA SA have held listening posts at Kingston, Millicent, Mt Gambier, Naracoorte, Keith and Murray Bridge.

Currently, there are more than 630,000 people over the age of 50 living in South Australia.