Grey power to rule

By Adrian Miller

The North Coast will have the highest percentage of people over the age of 65 in New South Wales by the year 2031 if current trends continue.

That is the prediction of the NSW State and Regional Population Projection, which found that by 2031 over 35 per cent of the Mid-North Coast's population will be over 65.

The report, conducted by the NSW Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR) is based on a series of assumptions that takes into account past trends, current patterns and demographic judgements.

The report found the population of the Mid-North coast, which for the study stretches from Greater Taree in the south to Maclean in the north and as far west as Copmanhurst, in 2031 would be 363,800, or 4.4 per cent of the population of NSW.

Of that, 35 per cent would be over the age of 65, the highest of any region in the State.

The report found the major reason for the ageing population was people retiring to the coast. It also found the number of deaths would exceed births by 2006.

DIPNR regional director Des Schroder said the study highlighted the need for adequate services to be in place to provide for an older population.

"Generally the big plan issues are about providing plenty of housing, health care services, mental health care services, home care services and a good transport suystem that allows people to get around," he said.

Mr Schroder said the most important factor would be the provision of aged-care services.

"What people really want is the provision of very good services and health services because as people age that becomes critical," he said.

"How you provide those is probably one of the key issues for the ageing population."

The report also found the Mid-North Coast lost many young adults to the major centres in NSW and Queensland.

Mr Schroder said looking at how to create jobs was a key aspect of DIPNR's strategic planning.

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