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Innovative partnership to improve diversity


Media Release published by City of Stirling. Read the original here.

A collaboration between the City of Stirling in Western Australia and the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) at Curtin University will see an innovative age-inclusive leadership development program delivered as part of CEPAR's Organisations and the Mature Workforce Project.

The joint effort has included policy review, surveys and interviews, with key CEPAR insights suggesting the innovative ‘Ascent’ program would be an effective tool in meeting the needs of employees across their career and positioning the City for enhanced productivity.

The program will see City leaders working with CEPAR facilitators to learn new strategies and develop individualised programs that will support inclusive leadership practices that ensure team belonging, wellbeing and productivity.

Mayor Mark Irwin said at the centre of being an effective local government was an inclusive and supported workforce that reflects the community it serves.

“Representative, local and effective democracy is best delivered by a passionate workforce that reflects the local community, especially with a healthy mix of gender, cultural and age demographics who all have unique and important contributions to the work we do,” he said.

“CEPAR is a unique collaboration bringing together academia, government and industry to address one of the major social challenges of the 21st century. I am proud the City of Stirling is implementing this inclusivity framework and the knowledge and insights that underpin it.

“We recently consulted with the community on our Age Friendly Strategy, which emphasises social inclusion, civic participation and employment opportunities for older Australians, so it’s great to ‘walk the walk’ in supporting an age-inclusive workforce through the partnership with Curtin University.”

CEPAR Chief Investigator and ARC Laureate Professor Sharon Parker said WA local governments represent a special group for the CEPAR project, where the potential for cross organisational learning is enhanced by the collaboration and commitment of all members.

“The CEPAR project is proud to partner with the City of Stirling for the Ascent Leadership Development Program and we look forward to contributing to their strategic approach to age diversity,” she said.

Ascent Leadership Development facilitators Eva Zellman and Leah Zoszak said while the focus is on age, the framework, skills and strategies learnt can be applied to any facet of diversity.

“This leadership program is not just an opportunity for employees to further develop their leadership skills, but also a chance to learn practical and evidence-based skills and strategies to enable workplace inclusion,” they said.

City of Stirling Manager Human Resources Marisa Kouts said the program would be key to the organisation’s overall performance, growth and productivity over the long-term.

“Almost one third of Australia’s population will be older than 60 by 2050, so the aim of this research program is to identify work related factors that might support organisations in attracting and retaining mature workers to enhance performance, growth and productivity,” she said.

“It focuses on the impact of our work environment on mature workers’ wellbeing, and on the ways workplace policies and practices affect mature workforce participation.

“The research has the potential to transform our mature labour force participation by creating new knowledge which the City will be able to leverage into the future, so I am excited by the possibilities this innovative opportunity presents.”

The City of South Perth, City of Joondalup, Shire of Gnowangerup and the City of Swan are also taking part in the study. CEPAR is based at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the WA branch is headed by ARC Laureate Fellow Sharon Parker at Curtin University's Future of Work Institute.