Background context

Background context

We understand that not all entrants may have extensive first-hand experience with seniors, so have included the following information to provide insight into how older Australians perceive their living environment, personal wellness and connection to their community.

The insights explore the everyday experiences of older people from various locations across Australia and socio-economic backgrounds.

What’s life like now for an older person?

What I want:

  • To be loved and to love
  • To be part of a family and actively contribute to the family
  • To have a valued role in the community
  • To have valued ‘everyday’ occupations and activities
  • To be part of a multigenerational community
  • To do the things I want and be with the people I want
  • To continue to live as I always have, and enjoy and keep experiencing life the way I choose

Who I want to live with in my community?

What I want in my neighbourhood:

  • I want to be close to my family and social network – live in my neighbourhood
  • I want public transport so I am not tied to my car
  • I want to live in a vibrant urban environment
  • I want and need to be valued and respected
  • Community is important to keep me mentally and socially engaged
  • Personal relationships are one of the most important aspects of life; they support and sustain me as I age
  • I want social connectedness and a neighbourhood that engages with me

Wellness and me!

My life

  • I need my future physical and personal needs to be supported wherever I choose to live, work and play
  • I don’t want to live with old people, it will make me old
  • My mind is still active – even though physically I might struggle
  • My body is still active – even though my mind may sometimes limit me

My home, my space and my habitat

Where I live

  • I like my home and where it is
  • Where I live is important for familiarity – my interests, my hobbies, my daily requirements and way of life.
  • I want to live with different people. Different ages, backgrounds, different individuals, couples and families.
  • Affordability might be an issue when I’m no longer working
  • I want green spaces/gardens in my living environment

Technology enables me to participate

My future

  • Technology is an enabler
  • I value it when it improves my lifestyle (but not when it is used to control my life)
  • I’d like it to assist me with any physical or health issues I may have in the future
  • Connections with family and friends are the most important thing to me. Technology helps but doesn’t replace being together.


The following six personas may be used by entrants to develop their submission.

What is a persona?
A persona is a fictional, but fact-based character developed to represent and provide insight into a target market. The following profiles are based on extensive research and real data.

Segment  : Comfortable Explorer
Name : Pat (age: 73)
Occupation : Leadership and Education
Spouse : Divorced (Husband left her when she was 50)
Family :
Six children with higher education living in Australia. Five of whom are married and four of whom have children (total of 11 grandchildren). All of whom she supported without any help from her husband.
Outlook :
Extremely positive. Constantly giving her all in order to help others. Couldn’t work in an industry that doesn’t help others.
About :
Started working just before her husband left, then had to find a way to support her six children without assistance. Pat studied and attained a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Psychology and Aged Care, in 5 years instead of the usual 6, all while caring for her family. She plays tennis once a week (which is non-negotiable), goes to Mass 3 days a week and Parish on Sundays. In her day to day life she volunteers at a nursing home and visits children in foster care. Pat currently has 2 international students living with her and she typically cooks for them during the week. She also babysits and spends as much time as possible with her grandchildren.
Attitudes :
Doesn’t want to be a burden to her family, plans to live at home and continue working for as long as possible or at the very least volunteer. Has no plans to retire or enter a nursing home, she will avoid moving in with any of her children when she is no longer independent.

Segment  : Comfortable Explorer
Name : Malcolm (age: 79)
Occupation : Ambulance Officer (Retired), Author
Spouse : Wife (75), both living in a Residential Village
Family :
Has six siblings of which only one other is alive. Married for 54 years and has had three children with his wife, one of whom is married with three children.  They all live in Eastern Australia and he sees them quite regularly.
Outlook :
Has given and continues to give a lot to the community. Views sharing his knowledge with others as a high priority.
About :

Malcolm worked as an ambulance driver just like his father, who was the first ambulance driver in Cairns. His goal was always to provide help to others.  The majority of his children have followed in his footsteps in that regard . He rose through the ranks and advanced from an apprentice for the railway to a paramedic with the Queensland Ambulance Service and retired as Assistant Commissioner for the QLD metropolitan area. He served in the Royal Australian Air Force and conducted a range of seminars. He has also self published 4 books and is currently writing another. He became the president of the Residents Committee at his care village after being there for only 4 months – he has now stepped down to a role as vice president.

Attitudes :

Believes that giving 110% is rubbish, you just need to go the extra mile. His upbringing with a good Christian family has really set the stage for him. He holds helping others above all else and values being in a position to help others, alleviate pain, and allow the healing process to occur.

Segment : Comfortable Nester
Name : Violet (age: 90)
Occupation : Telephonist, Volunteer and Housewife
Spouse : Husband passed away one year ago
Family :
Has four children and eight grandchildren who live all around the world (Australia, Vanuatu, Japan), she keeps regular contact with them. Two of her sons are moving back to Australia and have purchased property on her street.
Outlook :
Violet wouldn’t change anything that she’s done. She thinks that family and love is more important than anything else.
About :
She worked as a telephonist during World War II in Malta where she met her husband who was with the British Armed Forces. They were happily married for nearly 70 years. Violet moved to Australia in 1972 after having traveled all around the world and living in Malta, Africa, and Europe while her husband worked for the United Nations. She’s not lonely but she misses sitting and talking to him every night, thankfully his mind was all there until the minute that he passed. Violet has beaten both breast and bowel cancer and has a great outlook on life. She still goes walking every day, tends to her garden and enjoys cooking and baking for her family when they visit. She drives to do her shopping and is a member of various clubs including RSL club and Co.As.It.
Attitudes :
Can’t imagine being reliant on anyone else and wants to remain independent to the very end. She won’t go into a nursing home or move in with any of her children unless she is sick and can’t avoid it. She would like to stay in her own home until the day she dies. Life is too short not to love.

Segment : Challenged Survivor
Name : Mafalda (age: 83)
Occupation : Nurse and Midwife
Spouse : Unmarried
Family :
Comes from a very large family. She was the second oldest of nine and her grandmother had 14 children. Came back home to look after her father when he was in need. She then moved in with her mother until she passed.
Outlook :
She doesn’t really feel like she’s accomplished much during her life.
About :
Mafalda started nursing as soon as she could, when she was 17. She trained for four years and then moved to Melbourne to do a course in midwifery which lasted for nine months. Following this she did a course in infant welfare for 3 months. When her father was diagnosed with cancer she moved back home to look after him, despite him telling her to stay in the city and to avoid coming back to such a small town. After he passed she bought a house in Bracken Ridge and moved in with her mother. Although she loves gardening her unit doesn’t have much of one, thankfully she brought a lot of pot plants with her. She’s scared of trains so whenever she goes to a new place she always walks.
Attitudes :
She prefers to let life happen around her rather than to try and forge a path for herself.

Segment : Optimistic Explorer
Name : Nonna (age: 85)
Occupation : Cleaning, Shoe Production Line, Volunteer
Spouse : Passed away 12 years ago
Family :
She had three children and fostered another. Between those children, they had a total of seven grandchildren and one great grandchild. They are all still living in Brisbane.
Outlook :
She looks back at the beginning of her life and thinks it was quite difficult. She loves her current lifestyle and wouldn’t change a thing.
About :
Nonna got married to Angelo when she was 20. Only a year later they both left Italy and moved to Australia. It was difficult for them to find work at first but they both made do. Her husband was a do it yourself kind of guy, a lovely man and a handyman. She is quite religious and attends the Italian Catholic Federation meeting every 2 years and runs bingo for the elderly, even though she is the oldest one there! For the past 17 years she has volunteered at the Royal Brisbane Hospital performing courtesy visits. Nonna stayed alone in her family home after Angelo passed away for 5 years until she realised it’s not feasible, she is now living in a retirement village. She frequently goes traveling to Europe by herself for extended periods of time.
Attitudes :
She once wrote a book with a friend and her only real regret is not following through with that while she still had the opportunity. In a true optimistic fashion she loves to help people and will continue to do so in any way that she can, for as long as she can.

Segment : Optimistic Explorer
Name : David (age: 85)
Occupation : Carpenter and builder
Spouse : Passed away in 1999
Family :
David has 3 children, between those children they had 8 grandchildren as well as 3 great grand-children. They all live in Australia in either Brisbane or Sydney and David has a close relationship with many of them.
Outlook :
Happy the way he is, doing what he can to help others. He loves his family and wants to spend as much time with them as he can.
About :
Above all else David cherishes every moment he spent with his wife and children. He really misses going traveling with her. His father owned a sawmill which he worked at when he was young and despite losing 4 fingers on his left hand while working there, he continued doing what he loved. He worked as a carpenter in his early years before becoming a builder. His son followed in his footsteps and is working in the same industry. In his spare time he tends his garden, looks after his house, and goes volunteering for bipolar and schizophrenic people every second Wednesday, fixing up stuff around their homes when he can. He also makes some mean pumpkin scones which he shares during morning tea on weekends with his mates who live across the road.
Attitudes :
David loves reminiscing, he has really enjoyed the journey he has been on. He would like to get his knee fixed up so he can go walk up Kondalilla Falls like he used to with his best mates Brian and Kevin when he was younger. He also donates to various charities.