At the beginning of the 1990’s, Commonwealth Government research showed that the vast majority of older Australians thought they were being marginalized by the community. They believed that there was a strong negative attitude towards seniors.
The existing Commonwealth Advisory Committee was asked by Prime Minister Hawke for suggestions.
Val French, working with the Queensland Office of the Commonwealth Department of Ageing, consulted with media representative for possible answers.
Representatives of the media, including Chiefs of Staff, Editors and Journalists were consulted noting that older people’s organisations did not have the money for public relations professionals. These professionals would normally work with the media, with media releases and strategic plans. The meeting concluded that Val French with her media background should work with the senior sector to establish an organisation that would:
- Accept positive ageing as its goal; and
- Train older people and older people’s organisations, giving them the skills to work with the media and the skills to make effective complaints to government, government departments and business.
After consultation and discussion the organisation was established under the name Older People Speak Out.
To draw attention to positive ageing and to celebrate the beginning of a new era, a special evening for seniors was arranged.
The venue was Friday’s Nightclub. Some of the seniors arrived on the back of Harley Davidson motorbikes and jitterbugged till the early morning.
The expert strategic planning behind this event had its reward: major media from across Australia covered the event as a front page story.
Positive ageing had its first birthday.