Media release

From the Minister for Community Services

Wednesday, 16 May 2007


Community Services Minister Gavin Jennings today joined forces with La Trobe University to launch a new $1.5 million research initiative focussed on the future of aged care services in country Victoria.

Mr Jennings said the John Richards Research Initiative into Aged Care in Rural Communities will focus on what the aged care workforce in regional Victoria should look like in the future and map out what is required to deliver that workforce.

“By 2021, nearly one in three people living in country Victoria will be 60 years or older,” Mr Jennings said.

“With demand for services increasing dramatically this research will help deliver the right mix of services in an effective and efficient manner into the future.

“Similarly, we need to plan for a growing workforce, focussing on recruitment and better training so that we are well placed for the future challenges facing us.

“This five year period of research will contribute greatly in shaping future aged care services in country Victoria into the future.”

Mr Jennings said the research initiative was named in honour of John Richards, a former jackaroo, soldier, farmer, Victorian newsagency association executive and inaugural president of the Yarrawonga District Hospital board of management.

“Mr Richards’ vision to support aged care in country Victoria has been backed by his very generous donation,” Mr Jennings said.

“With matching contributions from the Bracks Government and from La Trobe University, the funding for this initiative will total $1.5 million over five years,” he said.

Professor Hal Swerissen, Acting Dean of La Trobe’s Faculty of Health Sciences, said the initiative would build on the university’s research strengths to address important aged care issues.

“We are extremely pleased with John Richards’ wonderful donation and the Bracks Government’s generous matching funding,” Prof Swerissen said.

“La Trobe University is recognised for its expertise in social gerontology and aged care research.

“This initiative will also establish a leading rural centre for honours and postgraduate research training in rural aged care workforce and health delivery initiatives

“Demand for health and aged care services will increase dramatically as the population ages. Rural and regional communities face unique challenges in delivering high quality, appropriate services in response to these demands.

“This significant funding platform will provide leverage for research grants and further contributions of funding from other sources.”

Mr Jennings said the project provided an opportunity for research into rural aged care workforce issues that otherwise might not be undertaken.

“It will allow for local research into specifically rural issues and see a research team based at the Wodonga campus of La Trobe University,” Mr Jennings said.

“We need to ensure that services operating in silos find new ways to work together to deliver the best outcomes for older Victorians.”

Media contact: Stacy Hume 9651 5799 or 0403 989 186