Skip to main content
Social and individual perceptions, attitudes, cultural norms, and values about ageing and older people can adversely influence policy, opportunity, medical treatment, and daily experiences of older persons.

The Self and Society theme will leverage the existing relationships between the Arts and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines within the Institute to investigate how we can change social attitudes and remove ageism and other stigma associated with ageing and dementia.

Current Projects

2019 UNSW Ageing Futures Seed Funding Projects

Lead Investigator: Dr Gail Kenning

The project uses the visual matrix (VM) methodology to provide inclusive social engagement opportunities for mature adults on the North Shore, and generate, analyse and evaluate data on community responses to ageing. It will establish a community of mature adults for ongoing research, beyond the life of the seed funding, to support health and wellbeing, and to combat loneliness and social isolation. It will provide valuable data to stakeholder organisations to enable them to support optimal ageing.
Lead investigator: Dr Adrienne Withall

The aim of this pilot study is to enable the recruitment and testing of a small cohort of older prisoners currently residing within Long Bay Gaol (n=25). We will perform in-depth characterization of this cohort and examine their physical, mental and cognitive health profile within a frailty framework, and compare objective tests to performance of biomarkers (e.g. epigenetic clock). We will examine lifecourse risk factors and examine trends in unequal ageing, including for people of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background. We will also review current health and custodial practices relevant to older prisoners and examine their health care utilization and needs. One of the aims of this research is to support the development of sustainable models of care for older prisoners, work which will be performed in an NHMRC Partnership Grant.
Lead investigator: Dr Craig Sinclair

This project aims to scope existing elder mediation referral pathways and practices across New South Wales through quantitative (survey) and qualitative (phone interviews and face to face focus group) methods. The study will map existing referral pathways, assess the extent to which referral pathways are utilised, identify barriers and facilitators to the use of referral pathways, and identify service gaps and opportunities for developing innovative referral processes and/or accessibility initiatives.

Project Outcomes

The study showed that there were a number of barriers to accessing elder-mediation, including financial costs, lack of available services in some regions and discomfort among older people in disclosing problems. A key barrier related to low levels of awareness of the elder-mediation process, at both a broad community level, and also among the practitioners who would be in a position to refer older people to the service. In some cases, misconceptions, such as the idea that a person with cognitive impairment could not play any role in mediation, also led to the exclusion of some older adults from the process.

The researchers have developed a Guideline for Practitioners in New South Wales, which provide tips on facilitating a smooth referral process to elder-mediation services and a number of contacts for further information and resources. A full summary of the project findings are available here.

The research team acknowledge the contributions of Seniors Rights Service, Relationships Australia, Multicultural Care Illawarra, Aboriginal Legal Services New South Wales, the Australian Human Rights Institute and a number of community representatives. This project was funded by the UNSW Ageing Futures Institute.
Lead Investigator: Self and Society
Jill Bennett is Professor of Experimental Arts and founding Director of the National Institute of Experimental Arts (NIEA), and formerly Associate Dean Research, UNSW Art & Design, 2006–2016. A writer and curator, she has published widely on visual culture, new media and transdisciplinary aesthetics. Professor Bennett, who received an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship in 2017, merges art with technology to generate new insights into social and health issues. She plans to develop a virtual ‘Perception Environment’ that simulates seeing through the eyes of another, with the goal of changing people’s capacity to understand stigmatised and devalued populations and alleviating the effects of stigmatisation and prejudice.