The Age Friendly Ambassador Program, supported by the Department of Communities, is a crowning achievement for the City of Bayswater. It is a program for seniors, delivered by seniors; and was created to support a more inclusive and connected community.
One in six people in the City of Bayswater are aged 65 years and over, with a higher than average population of older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Approximately 46% of the City’s population was born overseas and 28% speak a language other than English at home.
Feedback has shown both of these groups can be harder to engage with than other demographic groups, though their input and contribution to their community is just as important.
These people are also at heightened risk of being socially isolated and removed from community life.
The Age Friendly Ambassador program was designed to ensure these community members are engaged and connected, have access to information and support, and have the opportunity to have their voice heard on issues that affect them.
A network of eight older adults from diverse backgrounds and varying ages (53 to 87 years old) facilitate the program. They have volunteered their time to become leaders within the community and connect with the City’s older residents.
Reflecting the multiculturalism of the City, four of the ambassadors speak at least two languages, which is significantly helping engagement with older adults from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The ambassadors are formally engaged as City registered volunteers and are supported and trained to link older people in the community to practical information, while providing feedback from the community to the City at monthly meetings.
The ambassadors are involved with place activation projects, consultation projects, attend community events, and are active in the City’s two community centres.
To date, more than 1,000 hours of volunteer time has been invested by the ambassadors into the program; and more than 2,000 community members have engaged directly with the volunteers over the past year.
The ambassadors have created a strong link between the City and older residents, and have given these residents a voice. Their opinions matter – and this initiative ensures they are heard, respected, valued and considered as part of Council decision-making.
Engaging the ambassador’s knowledge, time and wisdom is building capacity and encouraging new approaches across the City by highlighting how older people can play an important and valuable role in their community.
Beyond the work the ambassadors are doing in the community, they have also benefitted from the experience themselves. They have become a tightknit group who have developed their confidence as leaders and are thriving on the impact they are making.
The Age Friendly Ambassador Program is truly helping us build a stronger community.