Laurieton Elders Vote for Favourite Hello Koalas Design

Residents living at The Whiddon Group Laurieton, a residential aged care service, will vote on their favourite design from the Hello Koalas sculpture project next Tuesday.

The residents will choose from 4 designs by both local and national artists and the favourite koala sculpture will then be installed in the Laurieton area for the wider community to enjoy.

Whiddon’s sponsorship of the project follows on from the organisations commitment to a creative ageing and arts approach for older people living in residential aged care.

“Our involvement in the project provides a wonderful opportunity for residents to connect to the wider community and take part in a well recognised and iconic project,” Whiddon’s Director Care Services, Kelly Sullivan, explains.

“For older people, living in a dementia friendly community is about feeling familiar and safe in new environments. The Hello Koalas sculpture project will help create a familiar environment within the local community in a way that is dignified and respectful. Being able to go on an outing and positively engage with the koalas within our community is exciting and will help overcome the hesitation that some of our residents may have when visiting unfamiliar places. If a person with dementia is connected with our koala in Laurieton this connection would extend to the Hello Koalas across the wider Port Macquarie area,” said Mrs Sullivan.

The Hello Koalas Sculpture Project was developed by Arts and Health Australia, a national organisation, based in Port Macquarie. Port Macquarie Hastings Council is the principal sponsor.

Arts and Health Australia’s Executive Director, Margret Meagher, explains: “Our organisation is dedicated to advocating the use of the arts and creativity to enhance health and wellbeing. Public art is one of the most effective ways to engage members of a community, from childhood to older age and from diverse backgrounds, and encourage interaction, participation and contribution within a community”.

According to Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, Port Macquarie Hastings ranks second out of 93 electorates in NSW with the highest prevalence of dementia. An expected increase of 350% in the number of people living with dementia is predicted.

“Our local Member of Parliament Leslie Williams is committed to making our region more accessible for people with dementia and their carers, and the idea of creating a design for one of our koalas took shape. Hopefully, it will help demystify the perceptions that people have around dementia and will look beautiful in its picturesque foreshore location. We see the Hello Koalas project as a great way of bringing the community together,” Ms Meagher explains.