AGMs can tend to be dry, but not when your guest speaker is the wonderful Hugh Mackay!

Hugh spoke on Kindness – the antidote to loneliness. He said that kindness is about meeting people’s deepest psychological need – to be noticed and appreciated. This can counter the current epidemic of loneliness, where 25% of Australians have reported that they feel lonely most of the time. And this was in 2019, before the pandemic.

Hugh said there are six main social trends that have led to an increasingly fragmented world, where everyone, and particularly older people, is more vulnerable to loneliness. They include shrinking households, relationship breakdown, a falling birth rate, increased mobility, busyness and the technology revolution.

According to Hugh, the recent pandemic and other disasters have brought people closer together again and reminded us what it means to be human. But will we keep pulling together or will we revert to our previous behaviour once the worst is over?

He says those of us who are not lonely must continue to reach out to those who may be. ‘Let’s keep dreaming of the kind of society we become when we have to face a crisis!’.

COTA NSW’s 66th annual general meeting was attended by 65 people both in person and online, the largest attendance ever at one of our AGMs.

As well as Hugh’s presentation, COTA NSW President Joan Hughes spoke about the diversity of the over 50s population and the opportunity this presents to COTA NSW in representing them. We are committed to finding new and creative ways to engage with all people over 50 in NSW in 2023 and beyond.

New Chief Executive Officer Marika Kontellis was introduced and spoke our main achievements during the year, including the research that informs our policy and advocacy work, resulting in this year’s landmark report What Older People Think and also our recommendations to the NSW government on the NSW Seniors Strategy.

Marika also highlighted the diverse ways in which COTA NSW provides information beyond “just google it”, including our Community Speakers program, COTA Conversations webinars, our monthly e-newsletters, social media, and our Legal Pathways and Aged Care Navigator programs. She also mentioned the great success of Living Longer Living Stronger, which now has 33 providers operating 44 affordable exercise programs across the state.

COTA NSW’s Treasurer Geoff Banting reported by proxy that COTA NSW finished 2021-22 in a healthy financial position with total equity of $487,314. Losses in some programs were offset by savings in salaries, but a decision was taken to close the Legal Pathways program when no new funding source could be found after extensive efforts.

Watch the AGM
Watch Hugh’s presentation