Good news for ageing Australians

Australia’s population is ageing. By 2031, nearly 20 per cent of the population is expected to be aged over 65. The demand for personal-care assistants, nurses and allied-health staff is increasing every year.

According to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), “Australia is facing a shortage of at least 110,000 direct aged-care workers within the next decade unless urgent action is taken to boost the workforce.” A total of 400,000 workers are estimated to be required by 2050, but as CEDA highlights “We have not come anywhere near the growth in workers we need to meet demand.”

Where will this workforce come from? Christian schools have good news. According to Cardus research report, graduates of Christian schools are more likely to volunteer with organisations that help the elderly.

What is the connection between Christian schools and care for the elderly? As Christians, we agree with CEDA – Australians deserve to age with dignity. As Christians, our foundation for this conviction is our belief that all people are made in the image of God and therefore have immeasurable worth. Our value is not determined by our age, ability, income or any other variable but in who God says we are – fearfully and wonderfully made and deserving of dignity.

In Christian schools across Australia, young Australians are living out this belief as they love and serve older Australians and as they do this they are discovering the joy of the intergenerational relationships we were made to experience. 

Here are seven beautiful examples from Christian schools this year.

St Philip’s Christian School

At St Philip’s Christian School in Cessnock, Year 8 music students visited their local retirement village. Not only did they showcase their talents and build their confidence and passion for performing, they also brought joy to the elderly residents.

Heritage Christian College

Heritage Christian College in Port Macquarie runs SEEN AND HEARD – an intergenerational program with residents at their local aged care home. On International Seniors Day, the students learnt some new skills from the seniors, including damper making, cake decorating, crocheting and how to decipher the clues in cryptic crosswords. 

The seniors also shared stories from their lives and words of wisdom regarding resilience, courage and commitment, skills that are just as relevant today as they were for the seniors when they were growing up. 

Kate, a mother of one of the students shared her daughter’s comments after visiting: “‘Mum I don’t care when it ends, I’ll go back on my own.’”

The skill-swapping continued the following week with the students teaching the seniors digital skills. The teens taught them how to use BorrowBox to borrow eBooks from the library. They also learned how to speed up and slow down a YouTube clip, add subtitles and make it loop if they want to watch it repeatedly. One of the seniors was keen to share her skills straight away with the oldest resident, who is 102!

Border Rivers Christian College

At Border Rivers Christian College, dance students performed their Eisteddfod pieces at Kaloma Home for the Aged and then spent time sharing stories with the residents. 

Pilgrim School

The ‘Play Forever’ Intergenerational Playgroup at Pilgrim School began as part of the students’ Serve Project where the Foundation and Year 1 classes had a focus on Serving older adults.  The students gain an understanding of what life is like for them and then brainstorm ideas to enrich their lives. These include reading, learning, playing and the Pilgrim Choir also performs for them!

Rehoboth Christian College

Students from Rehoboth Christian College returned to Manoah House for the first time since 2019. The Kenwick Primary Choir sang for the residents who tapped their feet, bopped along, smiled away, cried “happy tears”, and joined them in song. 

Wycliffe Christian School

At Wycliffe Christian School, Year 9 students visited Buckland Aged Care facility to help decorate their Christmas tree and sing carols. This is part of the Rite Journey program where students have been thinking about ways they can serve their communities. The residents and staff commented on their compassionate engagement as they gave out hand written cards and flowers. Many of the residents joined our singing from their beds and some shed tears.

These heart-warming stories are replicated in other schools across Australia. Young people are being encouraged to serve those older than themselves, led by Christian teachers who are motivated by their Christian faith.

As activists seek to diminish the value of faith of Christian teachers, we want to share how the lived Christian faith is good news for young people and their families.

We are building a grassroots movement of Australians who want to pass on this good news to future generations.

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