City of Maribyrnong project event held at Pipemakers Park.

The Strengthening Seniors Inclusion and Participation in Local Communities initiative is a key component of the Victorian Government’s response to the Commissioner for Senior Victorians’ report Ageing is everyone’s business, which found that seniors need more opportunities to join, attend and participate in clubs, groups, organisations and activities in the community.

Seven local government areas were selected to participate, based on an analysis of socioeconomic status, proportion of single-person households, existing networks of interest and potential support for the project. There was coverage across metropolitan, outer metropolitan and rural locations. The locations were the City of Greater Dandenong (led by enliven, Primary Care Partnership) and local government leads in the:

  • City of Latrobe
  • City of Whittlesea
  • Shire of Mornington Peninsula
  • City of Greater Bendigo and Shire of Loddon
  • City of Maribyrnong
  • City of Frankston.

The initiative aimed to support local community-based organisations in these local government areas to address social isolation and loneliness of older people. It encouraged partnerships between organisations, as well as capacity-building activities that could be transferred and used across the state.

Each area had a lead agency that established a project leadership group with their partners.

The project focused on four priority areas:

  • service and program offerings
  • organisational culture
  • local connections and referral pathways
  • governance and organisational life cycle.

The Commissioner for Senior Victorians chaired a state-wide project reference group, which provided strategic advice on the project. Membership was drawn from statewide organisations such as peak bodies, state and local government agencies, and academia.

A community of practice brought together project leadership groups from all seven areas to encourage peer learning, and to share tools and resources. A social planning and evaluation consultant supported all project sites, facilitated the community of practice, and conducted the project evaluation.