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Getting Older

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at The Wheeler Centre

Question time: Getting Older

When you think ‘question time’, perhaps you picture rowdy politicians cussing each other out. But in this ongoing series, we’re putting the dignity back into proceedings … along with a generous amount of time. It’s one full hour of pure Q&A between you, our audience, moderator Madeleine Morris, and a panel of experts in the evening’s chosen field of inquiry.

This special edition of Question time will focus on ageing.

It’s so often noted that it’s become a cliché, but it’s also a fact: the most populous generation of all time – the baby boomers – are hitting the pension years. Advances in medical technologies continue to maintain our bodies longer and ultimately extend lifespans … but they also cost money. Retirement ages are creeping upwards, not always by choice, as households calculate what they can afford. And in our increasingly contract-based employment landscape, other older workers find themselves permanently out of work before they’re ready. We may need to re-evaluate what ‘ageing’ means and at what stage we officially recognise it.

What’s ahead for our ageing population – in terms of both social infrastructure and the way individuals choose to live their lives? How does ageing differ between cultural backgrounds, according to family values and attitudes to care? And how do we honour wisdom and experience, while offering (or planning for) support?

Join Susan Ryan, John Daley, Patricia Edgar and Michele Gierck as they explore these issues affecting all of us, old and young, while we decide what our society will look like in the 21st century.


Portrait of Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris

Madeleine Morris is a Melbourne-based reporter for ABC television’s 7.30. She was formerly a presenter for the BBC in London and reported from dozens of countries before returning to her native Australia. She is the author of Guilt-Free Bottle-Feeding: Why Your Formula-Fed Baby Can Grow Up To Be Happy, Healthy and Smart, published by Finch. 

Portrait of Patricia Edgar

Patricia Edgar

Patricia Edgar is a sociologist, educator, film and television producer, writer, researcher, and policy analyst. Through a career spanning four decades she has been at the forefront of media for children nationally and internationally, winning multiple awards for her achievements and programs. She is the author of In Praise of Ageing.

Portrait of Michele Gierck

Michele Gierck

Michele Gierck is a writer, an inspiring speaker and an educator. Michele’s latest book, Fraying: Mum, Memory Loss, the Medical Maze and Me, published in February 2015, chronicles a mother’s and daughter’s journey through memory loss and the medical maze.

Portrait of John Daley

John Daley

John Daley is the inaugural chief executive of Grattan Institute, which provides independent, rigorous and practical solutions to Australia’s most pressing public policy issues. The current programs of Grattan Institute focus on productivity growth, cities, school education, tertiary education, energy and health.

Portrait of Susan Ryan

Susan Ryan

Susan Ryan was appointed as Australia’s first Age Discrimination Commissioner on 30 July 2011 for a five year term. In 2014, she was appointed Disability Discrimination Commissioner — in addition to her responsibilities as Age Discrimination Commissioner. She commenced her new appointment on 12 July 2014.

Getting Older

We’re all getting older, every day: ageing starts from the moment we’re born. Our bodies change, our minds develop and our outlook on life evolves.

How do our personal priorities change, as grey hairs accumulate, nests empty and pension plans replace career goals? What kinds of infrastructure are essential for an ageing society? And how might ageing in the 21st century differ from the past?

In one wise week at the Wheeler Centre, we’ll look at ageing from a variety of perspectives – from the personal to the political, with guests including Susan Ryan, Karen Hitchcock and Noel Tovey.


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