One for the ages: intergenerational program to preserve local memories

24 July 2020

A new research collaboration is bringing young and old together to discover how Australian culture, history, and identity are passed down through generations.

Macquarie University has partnered with Hunter’s Hill Council and Touched by Olivia, a charity that creates inclusive play spaces, for the ‘intergenerational remembering’ project.

As part of a five-year partnership, researchers will invite residents over 60 to exchange memories and historical knowledge with local adolescents, and will investigate the benefits of these conversations for both groups in reducing social isolation and creating community connections.

Lead researcher Dr Penny Van Bergen, Associate Professor in the Macquarie School of Education, studies how children and adolescents develop memory and emotion skills in conversations with others, and how parents, families, and educators reminisce with children and adolescents about the past.

“We’ve long predicted the positive benefits of intergenerational programs such as this,” Associate Professor Van Bergen says.

“Older adults have the opportunity to share memories and lessons from their lives with young people, while the younger generation have the opportunity to learn about the rich diversity of Australian history and society from those who have lived it.

“We’re eager to see what happens when we test these benefits. This really is a pioneering program, working with fabulous organisations, and we’re hoping in time it might have benefits for groups across Australia.”

Other academic collaborators include Associate Professor Tanya Evans and Professor Amanda Barnier from Macquarie University, and Dr Celia Harris from Western Sydney University.

Hunter’s Hill Mayor Mark Bennett says the council looks forward to better understanding, assisting and recording the special connections between older and younger residents.

“Through innovative collaborations such as this we are also seeking to meet the challenge of finding more effective and meaningful ways to connect people to address social isolation, which we have seen impacting upon very young and very old residents here in Hunters Hill,” he says.

John Perkins, director and co-founder of Touched by Olivia says: “In current times, we are looking forward to exploring ways in which we can help activate communities virtually, via technology, to help those that are socially isolated.”

Filed under: Featured

Pictured (L-R): Hunters Hill Mayor Mark Bennett, lead researcher and Associate Professor in the Macquarie School of Education Dr Penny Van Bergen, and Touched by Olivia director and co-founder John Perkins.

Pictured (L-R): Hunters Hill Mayor Mark Bennett, lead researcher and Associate Professor in the Macquarie School of Education Dr Penny Van Bergen, and Touched by Olivia director and co-founder John Perkins.

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