Many Councils provide Government funded programs to older people in their community
Services may differ from Council to Council
Council operated community centres are great places to experience different activities or events
Depending on your local Council, they can provide a range of services and supports that assist you in living independently, actively and socially within your community.
Certain Councils may be approved to deliver Government funded programs, like the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or Home Care Package (HCP) services. While other Councils provide a variety of support services, activities and events to keep their local senior citizens engaged in the community they love.
For many older Australians in regional and rural areas, their local Council is the first point of contact for help and assistance, which is why the Federal and State Governments often delegate important services, such as home care, to Councils.
Councils often are the backbone to regional and rural communities, providing a strong connection to people in their areas and offering extra supports to those who need it.
Services independently run by local Councils can include:
Free community buses or subsidised transport
Older people in metro, regional and rural areas who can't drive may have issues getting around their local area. While there is strong public transport in metro areas, that usually isn't the case in smaller cities and towns.
Some Councils may offer subsidised transport options to older people. For example, the Logan City Council in Queensland offers $2 per person taxi trips for seniors and their carers to local shopping centres.
Whereas, some Councils have a Community Bus that either has set bus stops or can pick up from your home. For instance, the Campbelltown City Council in NSW has a Community Bus that visits specific locations, like their local library, shopping centres and supermarkets, and picks up residents who have booked themselves a seat for free.
In addition, Councils may have community car programs to help take older people to appointments in their nearby city. The Barossa Council in South Australia has a program like this, where volunteer drivers take 'transport disadvantaged' people who need to get around the local area or travel to Adelaide. These services may have a fee involved, so check with your local Council for more information about transport options.
Note: Some of these services may be interrupted due to COVID, contact your Council for more information.
Men's sheds are becoming more and more popular around Australia, and Councils are trying their best to facilitate men's shed programs, or similar, to provide social opportunities to older men in their communities.
Men, young and old, can work on any projects they may have, like fixing or building furniture, at their own pace in their own time, while also enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and chatting with other men in their community.
These sheds want to improve the health and wellbeing of men through camaraderie, and have also become a safe place to talk about mental health and men's health issues.
Some men's sheds are becoming more and more inclusive, hosting specific female initiatives, like 'She Shed' days, or even encouraging women to join full time as well.
There are so many clubs and groups to choose from, however, there are a few clubs that are quite popular and receive support from Councils to run.
Local Senior Citizens and Probus clubs encourage retirees and older community residents to get involved, enjoy the company of others in the area, and provide a range of social activities and information lunches. These clubs want older retirees in the area to have a "healthy mind and active body through their social interaction activities.
Similarly, other well-known clubs, like Rotary, Lions Clubs, and RSLs, can be a great way to meet new people or catch up with other community members, while also being involved in a good cause - assisting your local community.
These clubs tend to lend a hand to volunteering projects that benefit the wider community, including helping older residents.
Contact your local Council about any clubs that may be of interest to you.
Meals on Wheel services may be a service your Council runs in your area and are a Government funded program. But outside of the Meals on Wheels program, your Council may have their own initiative to help older people have access to food or meal services.
Some Councils have weekly Centre Based Meal programs, which aim to reach isolated older residents with healthy, low-cost meals. There is an added benefit that volunteers will be able to interact with the older person to provide them social interaction but allows the Council to know that the person is doing okay.
For meal programs offered in the community, such as at a community centre, the Council may provide free transport to and from the location.
Another initiative your local Council may be providing is weekly, fortnightly or monthly shopping list services for older people.
Volunteers or staff from the Council can take your shopping list, purchase the goods on your behalf, and deliver the shopping to your home. This service may incur a small fee.
To learn more about shopping and meal assistance, read our article about Meals and Shopping assistance on the Aged Care Guide.
Contact your local Council for more information about food services they may provide.
Community centres and activities
Your local community centre is a hub of activity and can be a great place to meet new people, learn something new, or keep fit.
These centres are usually organised or managed by your local Council, who try to provide a wide range of activities for those in the community.
Depending on your community centre and available facilities, they may run a range of fitness or dance groups, gym facilities, and swimming pool classes, like over 60s aquatic classes. These community centres have space for clubs to hold meetings, bridge clubs, computer lessons, afternoon movies, cooking classes, English language classes or other educational study groups, art or craft groups, or so much more.
Contact your local Council to find out more about your community centre program list and upcoming events or activities.
Home and mobile library services
Local libraries are a very important component of Councils that have been updating their practices to be more in line with new technology as well as flexible for people who can't get to the library themselves.
Certain libraries now provide home delivery services or a mobile library service, so that you can still get the books you want to read even if you can't leave your home at the moment or you can reach a library.
Local library volunteers will deliver your selected items right to your door if you want something delivered to your home.
Or, the mobile libraries will visit your neighbourhood, stopping at pre-set locations on specific days, which allows residents to borrow library items closer to home.
Your local community has a lot of things going on, so Councils appreciate receiving assistance from local members in the community to run those initiatives.
Whether it is helping with a sausage sizzle fundraiser or joining the town beautification crew, there will be a lot of different volunteering opportunities available for you.
Outside of that, Councils generally have a lot of contacts with other volunteering organisations and can help you find the right volunteering option that suits you and your personal interests.
There are really basic tasks that might be really difficult to do yourself but your local Council can help with to make life a little easier.
For instance, some Councils offer assisted household bin services, which means someone else will bring your bin out to the curb for collection.
Other Councils have a network of designated, free to use, powerpoints for people to use to safely recharge the battery of their electric mobility device.
These services aren't always across the board and can differ from Council to Council. Get in touch with your local Council to see what extra general services they provide that may assist you with everyday life.
What supports does your Council provide older people in their community? Tell us in the comments below.