Loddon Mallee residents over the age of 65 will be getting more active in the coming year thanks to a $1.8 million grant from the Better Ageing Grant Program.
The grant will establish new local and community-based activities for older residents that increase levels of physical activity, health and wellbeing of residents aged over 65.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council applied for the grant in partnership with the Buloke, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Greater Bendigo, Gannawarra, Loddon, Mildura, Mount Alexander and Swan Hill councils.
Spring Gully Hall committee president Keith Woods said more than 250 over-65 residents used the hall each week.
He said a number of organisations could benefit from a boost in funds.
“We have a senior citizens group and run two dances a week,” he said.
“It is really good for older people to be out and about, getting exercise and socialising, so it is great when government bodies want to inject some money (into local programs).
“(Groups will) be able to put on other events older people.”
The Spring Gully Hall welcomed the Bendigo Ballroom Inc group after it decided to move its headquarters last year.
“Dancing is good for the body and mind,” Mr Woods said. “All the health professionals recommend it for older people.”
Macedon Ranges Shire mayor Janet Pearce said there are almost 70,000 people over the age of 65 in the region.
“Each council in the region is looking at how best to cater for the needs and interests of this diverse group,” she said.
“Through the funding provided as part of the program we will be able to offer sporting and other opportunities that are fun, inclusive, promote social connection and improve health and fitness.”
Buloke Shire Council mayor Carolyn Stewart said the partnership with other councils in the Loddon Mallee region would help ensure aspirations for the positive health and wellbeing of older residents.
“Many of the opportunities closely align to those recently adopted Buloke Shire’s ‘Inclusiveness Plan’,” she said.
“We look forward to working with Macedon Ranges, other councils, the Victorian Government, and local not-for-profit sport and recreation providers to implement activities in our communities”.
Federal Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation Bridget McKenzie said the project would reach thousands people over the age of 65.
“The two-year project will encourage more older Australians in the Loddon Mallee region – particularly those from vulnerable or socially-isolated groups – to engage in regular physical activity,” she said.
“It will also help older Australians to better understand the benefits of regular physical activity and social connectedness.
“Physical activity providers, community clubs and groups will be supported to provide age-appropriate activities.”
Ms McKenzie said current trends suggested the number of Australians aged 65-plus could double in the next 40 years.
“This shift presents a challenge in broader health terms but provides a chance for sport and physical activity to make a positive difference to the lives of older Australians,” she said.
Councils will now work with project partners, the Victorian Government, and local not-for-profit sport and recreation providers to implement activities