Australia's 6th aging Population Summit was told today that the NSW Government was developing policies that would help the state respond to the aging of the population.
The Minister for aging, Peter Primrose, said that by 2036 the population of NSW aged 65 years and over was forecast to increase by more than 111% and represent 21.5% of the State's population.
"In comparison, the population of people aged under 18 is projected to increase by only 19% and those aged 18 years to 64 years by 21% between 2006 and 2036," he said.
Mr Primrose said that the goal of the 16 NSW Government agencies implementing the whole-of-government aging strategy Towards 2030: planning for our changing population was to create a more "age friendly" society which was able to respond effectively to the changing demographic.
"Among other things, the strategy is influencing expectations of public sector services and developing health care initiatives and community-based approaches to promote education, social interaction and physical activity, which research says are the key elements to healthy aging for everyone," he said.
"It also seeks to ensure we have a productive, skilled and adaptable workforce to respond to the changing demographics and labor market profiles."
Mr Primrose said the Government wanted people to remain in the workforce for as long as they wanted and was encouraging employers to be flexible to the needs of older workers.
"All of this will enable us to be in a good position to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the aging population."
Mr Primrose said that by 2050 there would be 2.7 people of working age to support each Australian aged 65 years or over, compared with five working age people per aged person today and 7.5 in 1970.
"The proportion of the population of working age has risen steadily over the past 40 years - from 71% to 81% - and is projected to rise to 83% over the next 40 years.
"But among those of working age, the proportion in the age bracket with the highest rates of labor force participation - those aged 15 to 64 - is set to fall substantially, from 83% to about 73% in 2050 and as this proportion falls, average rates of labor force participation will also fall.
"To avoid the loss of critical knowledge, the NSW Government is working on a range of initiatives in the fields of age-neutral workplaces, proactive recruitment of older workers, flexible retirement options and the provision of training and technology assistance."
He said that as opportunities for flexibility in the workforce increased, it was becoming more common for people to stay in the workforce longer by reducing their working hours and working part time as a transition to retirement.
Mr Primrose said that the impact of the aging population would be felt throughout the economy.
"I believe the key is the continued commitment from Government, business, industry and community partners to work together, which will enable all of us to be in a good position to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the aging population.
"The biggest challenge will be the sustainable provision of the social and economic infrastructure needed to support a growing population, including the urban environment, transport, housing and service delivery networks."
Mr Primrose said that around two-thirds of the projected increase in spending over the next 40 years was related to health, which reflected pressures from the growth in older people, increasing community expectations and the funding of new technologies.
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