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Foggy Forest


Bulletin No 43 - Special Issue on Later Life Learning 

Reviewed by Denise M Reghenzani-Kearns

As a topic close to my heart and of research interest, I read this Bulletin in depth today. Thank you for the shared insights, personal experiences and studies. Of all things, while driving in Far North Queensland, I heard on radio also today, of a new book on helping older people prepare for “retirement comfortably or modestly”.  Well, this doesn’t cover all later life people or their learning, although fulfilment and satisfaction were discussed.  I will need to take advocacy further for more holistic perspectives and work in partnership with agencies with a role in this area.  Sadly, forget about local, state or national governments for, as recognised, they have diminished their former commitments.  Lifelong learning approaches can be ad hoc with no real sustainable governance.

Nor are the needs of those in aged care understood or accommodated as still later life learners.  The article relating to dementia certainly has bridged this gap.  With my mother in aged care, I have been alarmed at the way those who could be stimulated to withhold decline are ignored in generic, passive “leisure and lifestyle” offerings, and the unwillingness to change practices when examples to improve are given.  One pays extra for support self-generated.  It is like the staff are undereducated from a physical health perspective only and have not taken professional development from the nearby University of Queensland Brain Institute, or other such bodies across the globe.  Outreach must be accomplished, not merely in academic circles.  My husband, Peter Kearns AM and I ran a series of seminars/workshops for PASCAL and the Australian College of Educators that are listed below to exemplify summaries from presenters.  The principles continue to apply.

The engagement of Open, Elder and Third Age universities to also include fourth agers is highly commendable.  How do we penetrate the decision-makers and funders (especially with a higher education review in Australia that seems to have forgotten its social commitment to community service in mission)?

The community-based, especially self-run groups that can epitomise “small society”, can be recognised in addition to Men’s/Women’s Sheds.  These, often incorporated associations, are ageing also and looking for renewal. Incidental and informal learning is part of their structure if not called such and more attention could be paid to the Country Women’s’ Association, Probus and National Seniors for the value to and growth of their members.  Please note, Peter Kearns AM has written a lifelong learning policy for National Seniors as an elder Council member and their Board is now developing a work plan for implementation across Australia.

There is a vacuum in policy apart from the financial aspect and decline which needs to be addressed in a coherent and broader way, integrating commonwealth, state, and local government roles in Australia. 

WHO was mentioned in its approach to active ageing and its three pillars.  Instrumental in this was Alexandre Kalache who developed the four pillars in the figure below through the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance (see below).


Figure: Active Ageing adapted from WHO ( 2002), in P. Faber (2015, Ed.), Ageing: A policy framework in response to the longevity revolution (p. 82). International Longevity Centre, Brazil.

About the Author

Dr. Reghenzani has held senior positions in youth affairs, vocational education, adult/lifelong learning and higher education.  She has researched into and written on later life learning. Denise developed the Credit Abroad Study Tour to Australia.  Before returning from the USA, she ran the Australia-North America: Partnership in the New International Environment Symposium, Embassy of Australia. Always committed to professional development and community outreach, she established the Graduate Certificate of Tertiary Teaching and managing Learning Partnerships. Supporting Learning Cities, Communities and Neighbourhoods through the PASCAL Observatory and the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning she has brokered liaisons and published internationally. Email:


Faber, F. (Ed.). (2015). Ageing: A policy framework in response to the longevity revolution. International Longevity Centre, Brazil.

Reghenzani-Kearns, D. (2017). Wider benefits of seniors’ learning: An Australian perspective”. In International Journal of Education and Ageing4(1), pp.47-60.

Reghenzani, D. (Ed.). (2016) Seniors as Lifelong Learners. Available (accessed 19 July 2023). 

Reghenzani, D. (Ed.). (2015). Seniors as Lifelong Learners: Barriers, strategies, outcomes. Available (accessed 19 July 2023).

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