Our Story

Some time in 2013 my daughter Kimberley and I had a cup of tea and a chat about our workday around the kitchen table. My daughter, who was an early learning educator at the time, was telling me about her trials and tribulations around tasks associated with caring for little people.

As a former registered nurse of 20+ years, who has worked in Aged Care, I sympathised with her and shared some of my stories around caring for older people. In chatting we discovered and concluded that caring for little and older people isn’t so different. My daughter asked: “if it is so similar, why is it not combined more?”. This question was the start of our intergenerational practice journey.

Quickly we established a small team to explore what is known about combining care for older people and younger people. We learnt that childcare falls under education and aged care falls under health.

We decided that for regulatory reasons, intergenerational care should probably fall under education. We very quickly established the importance of health economics, business planning and career development for sustained intergenerational practice. And we attracted other disciplines into our group, especially those with experience in early learning and childcare.

We also learnt that many organisations are involved in intergenerational practice of sorts, however we also discovered that seldom intergenerational practice is planned, organised and evaluated, and that there is little to no evidence base for best intergenerational practice. This became the foundation to our work today, eight years later: sustainable curriculum base, planned and evaluated programs bringing people together for a specific purpose.

While the intergenerational team was establishing the research for best practice in different modes of intergenerational practice (DACS grant 2017-1019) and establishing alternative programs such as intergenerational learning via video conferencing, we also started to look to the future. We developed our mission, vision and distributed our toolkit. In doing so we expanded our network far and wide nationally and internationally. 

To establish our “signature logo” my son-in-law, Jonathan, who is very creative, doodled some pictures on a piece of paper and these pictures are now the foundation of our logo: an older person holding a child’s hand. We then asked Jonathan about the colours on the logo. 

The colour blue represents both the sky and the sea and is associated with freedom, intuition, imagination, inspiration, and sensitivity. Blue also represents meanings of depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, and intelligence and is often the preferred colour in health-related materials.Teal combines the calming properties of blue with the renewal qualities of green.

It is a revitalising and rejuvenating colour that also represents open communication and clarity of thought. It represents the infinity of the sea and the sky. Holding hands expresses affection, comfort, warmth, safety, closeness, and empathy. Holding hands between older and younger people also indicates connectivity. We are very proud of our logo that has had several iterations now, but the basis for the logo remains: connecting the old and young.

Over time, the intergenerational care program became the intergenerational learning program, which evolved into intergenerational practice to ensure inclusiveness of all forms of intergenerational care, learning and practices.

Now we are on the cusp of our next adventure: The Australian Institute for Intergenerational practice. We want to bring people together to ensure the best intergenerational experiences possible and to normalise intergenerational connections in Australia.

Emeritus Professor Anneke Fitzgerald

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