July 24, 2020

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.



A special exchange between older and younger residents is set to provide an oral history of Hunters Hill and beyond for generations to come.

Hunter’s Hill Council has entered an innovative partnership with Macquarie University and Touched by Olivia, a charity that connects with families through play with the creation of its Livvi’s Place national network of inclusive play spaces.

Through an ‘intergenerational remembering’ project, the three organisations have entered a memorandum of understanding, and are developing an academic and cultural interchange in research and other programs and activities.

The five-year collaboration will involve research into intergenerational remembering, aiming to enable adolescents as oral historians to act as conversational partners for older Australian adults.

Research will attempt to measure how Australian culture, history, and identity are transmitted via oral memory conversations between older and younger generations and the benefits of such conversations for both groups.

The collaboration is expected to include joint research activities, conferences and other academic meetings, and exchange of academic materials and information.

Mayor Mark Bennett said demographic data for the municipality showed Hunters Hill had a higher proportion of children (aged under 18) and a higher proportion of persons aged 60 or older than Greater Sydney.

“These are two key groups in our very well-connected community, and we look forward to better understanding, assisting and recording the special connections between older and younger residents,” he said.

“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.

“We live in a wonderful location, with a strong sense of community and any work that we can do to support social networks, while also recording and aiding research is a fantastic way to build an even stronger community.”

Lead researcher Dr Penny Van Bergen, Associate Professor in the Macquarie School of Education, said she is excited to be collaborating with Hunter’s Hill Council on the innovative program.

“We’ve long predicted the positive benefits of intergenerational programs such as this,” she said.

“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.”

John Perkins is director and co-founder (with wife Justine) of Touched by Olivia.

He said the Touched by Olivia Foundation had been very successful in activating communities all around Australia, physically, through its Livvi’s Place inclusive playground network.

“In current times, we are looking forward to exploring ways in which we can help activate communities virtually, via technology, to activate volunteers within our community to help those that are socially isolated,” Mr Perkins said.

“A key component in building these networks is to build the intergenerational trust, and the story telling component is a key component of building the intergenerational networks.”


MEDIA CONTACT: Jacqui Jones, Communications Officer. Phone: (02) 9879 9400



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Hunter’s Hill Council

22 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
PO Box 21, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
Tel: (02) 9879 9400
ABN: 75 570 316 011