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Mining silver dollars could yield gold for SA

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South Australia’s reputation has been dogged by the spectre of its ageing population, but the state’s Economic Development Board chair Raymond Spencer says there could be riches to be mined in the so-called “Silver Economy”.

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Spencer told a forum on “Ageing Well” today that SA had to change its thinking on its growing proportion of retirees, saying there was considerable scope to commercialise its expertise in caring and catering for the ageing Baby Boomer generation.

“Having a greater proportion of Australia’s over-65s than any other state isn’t a barrier to growth – in fact it could be a key to growth as we harness our expertise and experience and find ways to share new products and services with other ageing nations which will soon face the same challenges and opportunities,” he said.

“Our discussions with South-East Asian leaders and in China has revealed a phenomenal appetite for our thinking, products and services in this potentially very lucrative sector… China will be paying $600 billion a year in aged pensions in four years’ time while one-third of Japan’s 127 million residents are currently over 60 – representing a huge export opportunity for ‘silver economy’ products and services created here.”

Spencer said there was scope to create and market in-demand products and services across the food industry, financial services, technology and communications, housing and transport, aged-care reform and training.

Premier Jay Weatherill told the forum Adelaide would host “a major international conference on Ageing Well” at the Convention Centre late next year.

“It will bring to our city international experts in policy, research, innovation and business – people who recognise the economic opportunity that Ageing Well represents,” he said.

“This will be one of the few such conferences to have a strong commercial focus… it will be led by industry and driven by consumer needs – with the ultimate aim of putting SA on the map and helping us to create jobs.”

Weatherill said he expected a high proportion of delegates from Asia.

He said current demographic trends and forecasts were “nothing short of staggering, and represent a powerful imperative for action”, with 295,000 SA residents currently 65 or older – expected to grow to 530,000 by 2050.

“I can’t think of a jurisdiction better placed than SA to become a global leader in the Ageing Well economy… I have every confidence we can create plenty of jobs – not just in the traditional aged-care sector, but in the economy as a whole as businesses recognise that the over-60s are a huge market,” Weatherill said.

“We can be big winners in Ageing Well because the demographic ‘stars’ are aligning and we have so many things going for us… the most important asset we have, I believe, is an understanding that the rapidly ageing population of SA, our region and the world is, for us, an amazing opportunity.

“This realisation is helping us change the conversation about older people – to change it from a discussion about what they take to one about what they make.”

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