The Hellenic Club and YMCA Canberra were the big winners in the first ACT Age Friendly Awardsannounced recently at the ACT Chamber’s Annual Dinner.
The YMCA won the Employer category and the Hellenic Club was the winner of the Business Awards category.
The ACT Age Friendly Awards are a joint initiative of the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and the ACT Government. The awards recognise employers who go the extra mile to recruit or retain older workers and ACT businesses that adopt an ‘age-friendly’ approach to the needs of older customers.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Minister for Ageing Shane Rattenbury said, “Our society is continually improving the way it recognises the needs of older people in the community and these awards focus on two important aspects of this – older people as consumers of goods and services and as employees”.
“Employers and businesses have an important role to play in supporting this recognition of older people and I congratulate everyone who participated in the awards.”
The awards panel congratulated the YMCA of Canberra for its work on strategies to attract or retain mature-age workers including having no compulsory retirement age.
As one example of the YMCA Canberra’s commitment to employing mature-age workers, their health and fitness unit currently has 16 staff aged over 50 years, with one employee aged over 70 years. The YMCA supports its staff to continue working after retirement through flexible working arrangements.
“This award recognises the Y’s commitment to engaging with the community and providing opportunities that are relevant, supportive and life enhancing, not only for older people, but for people of all ages,” says CEO YMCA Canberra, Jenny McCombe. “It also reflects the values of the YMCA that we provide an inclusive framework. The award affirms our vision for a community which is connected, inclusive and resilient.”
“Older adults make wonderful employees as they are so reliable and committed. Corporate knowledge is very valuable and older employees contribute to the organisation in ways that younger people are unable to do,” she said.
The Business Awards category attracted a strong field of contenders from across the ACT business community including nominations from the service, lifestyle, tourism and hospitality sectors.
These businesses demonstrated a commitment to adopting an ‘age-friendly’ business approach through communication and marketing, customer service and loyalty and the development of infrastructure and business environments which consistently met the needs of older customers.
Category winner, the Hellenic Club is well known for its ‘age-friendly’ business approach including providing a range of tailored events, building layout to support people with mobility issues and financial contributions to organisations supporting seniors.
“At the Hellenic Club we work very hard to deliver a range of quality products and services for both our young seniors and older seniors, so we are very proud and thankful to be recognised by the ACT Government and the business community as the leading agefriendly business in Canberra,” said Hellenic Club General Manager, Patrick McKenna.
“The Hellenic Club provides affordable and high quality offers, which are very popular with our older members, including wine dinners, live entertainment and senior’s specials at our clubs and the Australian National Botanic Gardens. We also take great care to ensure a high level of comfort and accessibility at our venues.
“Older workers such as Dorelle, who bring a wealth of experience, a caring nature, and a passion for hospitality, provide the exceptional service that our members enjoy, as well as set an example to our younger team members at the Hellenic Club,” he said.
The Capital Chemist Group was a finalist in the business category. It was recognised for the Group’s consistent approach to the needs of older customers, an exemplary approach to customer service and agefriendly considerations that are associated with the design and layout features of their pharmacies.
The Southern Cross Health Club was also recognised for its commitment in ‘going the extra mile’ for older clients in the context of designing innovative health and fitness programs that achieve good outcomes for an aged demographic.
The ACT has been an active member of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities since 2011.
In October 2013, the ACT shot to prominence on a national and international level by hosting Australia’s first National Conference of Age-friendly Cities and Communities, which was attended by representatives from more than 40 local governments, five state governments and academics from across Australia and overseas, to discuss ideas and concepts that would create more age-friendly communities and cities throughout Australia.
The facts speak for themselves. In a decade from now, it’s expected that one in four people in Australia will be aged sixty years and over. In two decades from now, that ratio is likely to be one person in three.
As Australia’s population continues to age in the decades to come, this ‘silver market’ will significantly increase in size and in terms of its net value to the business sector, increasing growth and prosperity and strengthening the Australian economy.
Canberra’s business sector has immense opportunities to reap the benefits of the ‘silver market’. Canberra also has the opportunity to grow and develop as a fullyfunctioning, diverse and vibrant age-friendly city.