Projects, programs and partnerships

Chinchilla Project

The Healthy Ageing Initiative within the Health and Behavioural Sciences (HaBS) Faculty at UQ is supporting Southern Queensland Rural Health (SQRH) and Southern Cross Care (SCC) in revitalising the SCC Chinchilla aged care facility (Illoura Village) and helping to develop positive experiences for allied health students from UQ and USQ at the training hub in 2023. UQ HaBs academics are also supporting the SQRH team and other stakeholders develop an evaluation framework for the project to measure the project activities and evaluate the outcomes.

The purpose of the 'built environment' portion of the Chinchilla project is to find ways to incorporate aspects of Chinchilla, and what is valued for those who have lived and worked in the Western Downs, into the aged care facility, according to Professor Nancy Pachana, Director, Healthy Ageing Initiative, HaBS. UQ staff and students from the Schools of Psychology and Architecture involved in the project have travelled to Chinchilla to meet with local community, businesses, Western Downs Regional Council, the Illoura Village staff, and other stakeholders to better understand the community and what makes Chinchilla unique. 

The School of Psychology is working closely with architecture students from the School of Architecture, to deliver a placemaking strategy for an age-friendly environment to support SQRH and SCC in creating valuable spaces in the aged care facility and training hub for residents, staff, and students. 

UQ nursing and allied health academics along with academics from UniSQ and SQRH and SCC staff are members of the Evaluation Committee developing an Evaluation Framework to support the SQRH project team in meeting project requirements, measuring deliverables and identifying opportunities for research. This is an important role in shaping how the Chinchilla Project outcomes are measured and the data collected supports research to identify specific gaps or problems and provide recommendations in key areas. 

Overall, the hope of everyone involved in the Chinchilla project is that more allied health students choose regional areas as a career destination and that the Illoura Village continues to go from strength to strength with respect to the care they provide to residents and the support and educational opportunities available for their staff.

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UQ Age Friendly University Initiative

Dublin City University conceived and developed the Ten Principles of an Age Friendly University (AFU) and launched the Age Friendly University Global Network in 2012, inspired by the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly World initiativeAge friendly ecosystem

Nearly 85+ Universities globally belong to this network; UQ is the first Age Friendly University in the Southern Hemisphere, joining the AFU network in mid-2020. This outcome is the culmination of one of the HABS Faculty’s key Healthy Ageing Initiatives and involved a year-long consultative process across teaching and learning, research and innovation and community and alumni stakeholders and organisational units at UQ. Becoming an AFU requires an institution to embed the AFU principles in a way that makes sense for that institution, but all AFU institutions are required to have strong senior executive support for the program.

Being a member of the AFU global network:

  • supports UQ’s long-term goal of creating game-changing graduates who make impactful contributions in society
  • enhances our research efforts to realise globally significant solutions to significant social challenges; a focus on healthy ageing and well-being in later life is a key component of several major research initiatives at UQ
  • embodies UQ’s mission to be inclusive in all its processes and engagement with stakeholders, and to enrich the communities of which it is a part

To promote and support its goals as an Age-Friendly University (AFU), the UQ Age-Friendly Committee (AFC) has been established, and is part of the UQ Senate Subcommittee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The AFC looks at ways to support important teaching and learning, research and engagement efforts happening across the University as they relate to AFU Initiatives. It will examine physical spaces, policy documents, and staff and student support structures to ensure an Age Friendly environment at UQ. The AFC is a source of advice and strategic and operational knowledge for Age Friendly University relevant initiatives. The aim is for UQ’s community-based intergenerational networks to be nurtured and empowered to drive positive outcomes in teaching, research and community engagement. 

Part of the inclusivity element of UQ’s Age Friendly University involves working with Dementia Australia to improve how we engage with persons living with dementia. In 2021 we became the first Australian university to have dementia-inclusive spaces certified on its campus (the UQ Art Museum and UQ Healthy Living). In 2022 this was expanded to include the UQ Centre for Clinical Research at the Herston campus. Professor Pachana also runs 'Dementia Friends' workshops to improve the numbers of people on campus who have been trained as being 'dementia aware', again a major initiative supported by Dementia Australia.

Other major external partners with respect to UQ’s Age Friendly University initiatives include the Council on the Ageing QLD (COTA) and the University of the Third Age (U3A). COTA is assisting the state of Queensland and Brisbane itself to become more age-friendly. Ongoing community links are vital to UQ’s Age Friendly goals and aspirations.

Improving the student experience for non-school leavers

A major initiative of the AFC has been improving the student experience for non-school leavers. 

This has been supported by a Staff-Student Partnership project led by Sophie Griffith, a third-year student in the Bachelor of Psychological Science; Sophie is also a member of the AFC. The main outputs of this SSP project, aside from reports to UQ faculty and senior management, have included an excellent film highlighting the wonderful diversity of older students studying at UQ:


International Day of the Older Person

International Day of the Older Person is celebrated each year on 1st October. October is also Senior’s Month in Queensland, and UQ has many events on offer in celebration of this month. 31 October is Grandparent’s Day in Queensland, and UQ senior leadership shared their stories about the formative role of grandparents in their lives.


Reviews of the UQ AFU initiatives are set at five year intervals, and the accompanying UQ AFU Plan on Two Pages attempts to summarise a roadmap of goals for the initiative at UQ, with relevant KPIs identified with reference back to the 10 AFU Principles, which are listed below:

10 principles for an age-friendly university

  1. To encourage the participation of older adults in all the core activities of the university, including educational and research programs.
  2. To promote personal and career development in the second half of life and to support those who wish to pursue 'second careers'.
  3. To recognise the range of educational needs of older adults (from those who were early school-leavers through to those who wish to pursue Master's or PhD qualifications).
  4. To promote intergenerational learning to facilitate the reciprocal sharing of expertise between learners of all ages.
  5. To widen access to online educational opportunities for older adults to ensure a diversity of routes to participation.
  6. To ensure that the university's research agenda is informed by the needs of an ageing society and to promote public discourse on how higher education can better respond to the varied interests and needs of older adults.
  7. To increase the understanding of students of the longevity dividend and the increasing complexity and richness that ageing brings to our society.
  8. To enhance access for older adults to the university's range of health and wellness programs and its arts and cultural activities.
  9. To engage actively with the university's own retired community.
  10. To ensure regular dialogue with organisations representing the interests of the ageing population.

Program lead

The program lead of UQ’s Age Friendly University initiative is Professor Nancy A. Pachana, from the School of Psychology in the Health and Behavioural Sciences (HABS) Faculty at UQ. 

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University of Zurich (UZH) Healthy Longevity Partnership

The University of Zurich and The University of Queensland (UQ) are already connected by their membership in Universitas 21. The two universities are continuing to advance and expand this cooperation under a strategic partnership. On 22 February, UQ Vice-Chancellor Deborah Terry and UZH President Michael Schaepman signed a plan to this effect.

One key aspect of this partnership is the two university’s commitment to advancing research in the healthy longevity space. This aspect of the partnership is led by School of Psychology Professor Nancy Pachana and University of Zurich Professor Mike Martin. Professor Pachana recently gave the keynote address at the 2022 Swiss Psychological Society meeting in Zurich, and she and Prof Martin took the opportunity to issue a press release describing the healthy longevity research and partnerships planned between UZH and UQ. This includes joint presentations between UQ and other international scholars at the UZH annual Healthy Longevity Innovation Days (held annually in the Northern Hemisphere summer since 2021) and also featuring Age Friendly Committee member Associate Professor Tim Kastelle, Director of External Engagement at the UQ Business School.

Professor Martin was pleased to give an update that the application for UZH to become an Age-Friendly University (which Pachana assisted with) was successful. 

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