Productive ageing recognises the contribution of older people to economic, social and cultural growth and helps build a sustainable community. Being involved in community life is good for individuals and good for society. However, we know very little about the participation of and contribution by people aged 50 and over in rural communities. This research aimed to develop a better understanding of productive ageing in different types of communities in rural Victoria, Australia. An anonymous self-complete postal questionnaire was distributed to a sample of households in twenty rural communities using the Australia Post Unaddressed Select Service. Those householders 50 years of age and older were invited to complete the survey. Data collected allowed examination of social and civic engagement, familiarity with community, the value placed on social relations by people aged 50 years and over, and how community involvement was linked to community sustainability. In particular it attempts to address the question 'Does social and civic engagement differ across declining, stable and growing rural communities?' Despite differences among rural communities, this study showed that older people develop and maintain strong community connections and well-functioning social capital and that participation in social activities was associated with feelings of being connected with community. It also identified health issues and lack of options as the main constraints on participation. A key message for policy makers is that older people play an important role in the sustainability of rural communities. There is much to be gained from actively supporting their participation in activities that are connected to ageing well.
- Productive ageing
- Rural Australia
- Social and civic participation