The World Health Organization's impacts on age-friendly policymaking: A case study on Australia

Edgar Liu, Mariana T. Atkins, Rafal Chomik, Bruce Judd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reflects on whether and how the World Health Organization (WHO) inspires age-friendly policymaking across different levels of government. This is done via a case study in which we analyse the policies of Australia's three-tiered federated government system against the WHO's eight core age-friendly cities domains. Findings suggest that membership of the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities did not appear to overtly inspire the development of age-friendly policies across Australian governments. Content analysis shows there is an overwhelming policy focus on care and support services, with little attention to cultural diversity. This reflects an outdated portrayal of debilitation in later life and a lack of recognition of how diverse circumstances impact the ageing process and corresponding support needs. Our findings also reveal the challenges of a three-tiered federated system, where varying financial and authoritative capacities have influenced how different governments acknowledge and respond to population ageing. Notably, local governments-the main level of implementation targeted by the WHO-are invariably constrained in developing their own age-friendly policies and may opt to adopt those of higher levels of government instead. These challenges will likely impact other resource-limited governments in responding to the needs of their emerging ageing populations.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2022


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