On 6th June 2018, the team of ImaginAging gave a warm welcome to the government officials coming from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KWPKM) and the operational staff from the non-government organisations (NGO) including Rumah Seri Kenangan (Institutions of the Elderly) and YMCA KL. These are enthusiastic and passionate individuals with years of experience, working on policies for older adults and/or people with disabilities (PWD). Altogether, thirteen eager participants came to Sunway University to participate in the workshop – “ReThink: Policy for Sustainability”.
The main objective of the workshop was to assist KWPKM in identifying the most pressing issues encountered by KWPKM in dealing with national policies on senior citizens and disabled people. Unlike previous workshops, this workshop is less about deploying the speculative participatory design method but rather, focusses on participatory design as ideas generation from existing policy paradigms. The reason for this divergence stems from the nature of the workshop, which was to identify three areas of potential policy problems – from not-yet-identified policy problems to policy problems without satisfactory solutions despite attempts at finding solutions.
In the course of 2.5 hours, the workshop ran through three activities – designing a problem, problem mapping and designing possible solutions. The participants were divided into 4 groups with each having a combination of 3-4 government and NGO participants, with 1 to 2 facilitators allocated to each group. At the end of the activities, each group had to present their findings developed as a result of their participation in the activities. Three pressing issues were basically found across all groups:
- Awareness of ageing and its related issues – A mechanism to confront discrimination against older adults who are negatively perceived as debilitated, unworthy of attention and unsuitable for employment.
- Collaboration between government and other agencies – what must be done for more effective implementation of national policies at the local community level.
- Communication between government agencies and local communities – the need for more effective communication at every level of governance, as well as that between implementing agencies and beneficiary communities.
The half-a-day workshop was ended by showing a pre-recorded video on “Speculative Design” by Dr. Emmanuel Tsekleves, and a short discussion on the way forward. The findings of this workshop will be used as part of the ImaginAging team’s grant application for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) UK, Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement Scheme (FoF), which constitutes a part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). ImaginAging also welcomes two new collaborative partners, Dr. Daniel Loy Hui Siang of PetroSains and Dr. Lim Shiang Cheng of United Nations University (UNUN-IIGH).