Growing older, doing more together
The creative possibilities of ageing were clear to all who joined in the festivities for the recent NSW Seniors Festival, a two-week celebration held in early March, and now in its 59th year. The festival (formerly NSW Seniors Week) is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, with up to 500,000 people taking part in more than 1,000 free or discounted events.
Seniors around the state gathered in Sydney and local communities to enjoy the festival, with this year’s events based around the theme, “let’s do more together”. The events were focused on promoting inclusive communities and providing seniors with opportunities to try new things and remain engaged in their local communities.
Sydney hosted a number of festival highlights, including the Premier’s Gala Concerts, held for the first time at the brand new International Convention Centre Theatre, Darling Harbour. Close to 30,000 visitors over two days gathered to see some of Australia’s best musical theatre and recording artists, including Kate Ceberano, Andrew O’Keefe, and former Australian Idol winner Damien Leith.
Next door to the Convention Centre, the 2017 Seniors Festival Expo provided a glimpse into the latest trends and innovations in wellness, health, lifestyle, technology, education, and travel. Across town, visitors over 60 were invited to enjoy free access to the Australian Museum and its current exhibitions, Spiders – Alive and Deadly and The Scott Sisters.
On a more lighthearted note, the perennial question of whether “age is just a number” was debated by top Australian comedians including Vince Sorrenti, Mary Coustas (Effie), and Jean Kittson, at Sydney Town Hall. Media personality Mikey Robbins hosted the event, which ended up in favour of the opposition. Age is not just a number, for many it is a source of identity and pride.
It was heartening to see the community get behind these events.
With an ageing population and more than one million people in NSW now aged 65 or over, a need has arisen to radically rethink how we want to age. Although living to a ripe old age is something all of us hope for, growing old is still seen by many as a negative. This year’s Seniors Festival demonstrated otherwise.
Seniors attended hundreds of events around the state, from cooking classes to a ukulele workshop. It is hoped that people now feel emboldened to keep trying new things, and to continue contributing to their local communities.