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Author of book on being ‘generationally aware’ in Wellington


Author of book on being ‘generationally aware’ speaking in Wellington

A highlight of the 2012 Services for Older People conference taking place in Wellington this week (Thursday and Friday, 29-30 March) will be international visitor Professor Simon Biggs – a world expert on ageing societies.

The conference theme is “Moving Forward Together, Nuku Tahi - Hikoi Tahi - Maranga Tahi”, and Professor Biggs will be speaking on Thursday morning about re-framing the debate around how best to improve the present and future well-being of older people.

Professor Biggs is currently based at the University of Melbourne and also works with the Brotherhood of St Laurence social justice research and policy teams. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Ageing Societies and has contributed to research projects with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Europe’s Economic and Social Research Centre (ESRC).

Last year Professor Biggs co-authored a book titled “Generational Intelligence” (Routledge, 2011) that looks into the steps that need to be taken internationally to improve intergenerational communication in families, at work and in neighbourhoods.

The book points to the risk of fractured social relations in societies that are entering a significant ageing ‘boom’. A risk, it follows, that will only increase if we fail to give more attention to understanding and communicating what different generations mean to each other.

The book suggests that we need to be more “critically self-aware” of age as a factor in social relations so that age itself doesn’t act as a barrier or create conflict. A suggested step for growing that self-awareness is to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone of a different age group. How do you perceive being ‘old’? Are there gaps between generations that are too big to bridge?

How do you perceive your own generation? Do you feel a sense of solidarity or ambivalence about intergenerational relationships?

A recent project in Melbourne saw a 12 minute DVD produced on this topic as a way of showing how sustainable generational relations can be encouraged and can help minimise ageism. Titled “Age Encounters”, it can be viewed at http://youtu.be/wdcWZDZ7d-I

This week’s conference is being held at Te Raukara – Te Wharewaka o Poneke on the Wellington waterfront.


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