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Leadership program to help develop age-friendly communities around the world
Dr Lyn Phillipson from the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) School of Health and Society has been appointed as an Age-friendly Mentor by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Federation of Aging.
Dr Phillipson is one of only 20 people worldwide to be named as a mentor under the Age-friendly Environments Mentoring Programme(MENTOR-AFE), established to foster leadership development in people striving to make their communities more responsive to people of all ages.
The program is for individuals who have the potential to gain significantly from mentoring and whose actions can have a significant impact within their communities.
“I was appointed as an Age-friendly Mentor on behalf of the WHO and International Federation of Aging to help build more capacity for age-friendly initiatives around the world,” Dr Phillipson said.
“This is the first time they have run the program, so to be an inaugural mentor is a real honour.”
Dr Phillipson is an award-winning public health academic, a National Health and Medical Research Council-Australian Research Council Dementia Research Fellow, and leads UOW’s Dementia Friendly Communities and Organisations project.
Dementia Friendly Communities and Organisations, funded by the Global Challenges Program, is an interdisciplinary project to increase public understanding of dementia and reduce the fear, stigma and social exclusion associated with living with dementia.
As part of the project, Dr Phillipson and her team have been working with Kiama Municipal Council, the Kiama community and Dementia Australia to make Kiama Australia’s first dementia-friendly community.
“Creating age-friendly environments is an important global issue due to the aging of our populations,” Dr Phillipson said.
“It is critical that those embarking on this type of work are supported to apply what we know from the evidence in practice.
“It is a long term and dynamic process to engage in. So having a supportive relationship with someone who has walked the journey will help mentees to maintain their momentum and also respond to emerging and unanticipated issues.”
MENTOR-AFE is a distance mentoring program. Over a 12-month period, the mentor will provide guidance and support to enable the mentee to develop the specific skills they need to advance their work on age-friendly environments.
Dr Phillipson’s mentee, Ms Amela Fočić, works for the Swiss Red Cross and lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she is working towards making the city of Tuzla more age friendly.
“If possible, I would like to share with Amela the importance and benefits of working with older people and making sure that the approach in collaborative and participatory,” Dr Phillipson said.
“I would also particularly like to support Amela to think about how the project can be dementia friendly as well as age friendly.”
UOW’s Global Challenges Program is an interdisciplinary research initiative, harnessing the expertise of world-class researchers from different disciplines to address complex, real-world problems. The program tackles challenges paramount to our local region, with the potential to make a difference on a global scale.
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