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WA Seniors Awards Finalists Announced

A woman who cooks to raise funds; a professor who studies depression, and a 78-year-old martial arts champ are among the finalists in this year’s WA Seniors Awards.

Seniors and Volunteering Minister Tony Simpson said the three were among the outstanding seniors to be selected as finalists in the 28th year of the awards.

Former restaurant owner and caterer Leonie Kershaw’s passion for food and commitment to her community is behind the iconic charity project, the Chef’s Long Table Lunch, bringing together a team of chefs, volunteers, sponsors, suppliers and supporters to host the event, raising $600,000 for local groups in Bunbury.

Another finalist, Professor Osvaldo Almeida of Crawley, led Australia’s biggest study of depression in older people and discovered that is possible to delay cognitive decline with just 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Professor Almeida has been working with GPs to reduce depression, self-harm and suicide in older patients.

Ron Shears of Joondalup joined the local tae kwon do club to help with his asthma – and 21 years later is still there, having achieved his Black Belt 4th Dan and becoming a father figure and trainer for young people joining the club.

Mr Simpson said the awards recognised the outstanding contributions of seniors, who now made up one-fifth of WA’s population.

“For the first time ever, there are more seniors than children being born. In many communities, seniors already make up well over 20 per cent of the population,” he said.

“It’s worth highlighting the rapid growth in the seniors’ population. Between 2006 to 2011, WA’s population grew by 14 per cent, while the seniors’ population grew by 21 per cent.

“The State Government is supporting seniors with a range of recent initiatives, including $152million in cost of living payments, discounts on council rates, electricity and water rates, a Seniors and Security Rebate Scheme, and fuel cards.”

Winners will be announced on Sunday 10 November at the WA Seniors Week Festival.