Every three seconds another person in China turns 65, making it the fastest ageing population in the world, the inaugural Australia-China Aged Care Industry Development Forum heard on Monday.
The first-of-its-kind forum brought together over 100 Australian and Chinese delegates to facilitate the building of knowledge and networks between the two countries in the aged care industry.
The event held at NSW Parliament House was hosted by CCIA Business Holdings, a Sydney-based company formed earlier this year by a group of business people experienced in trading and consulting in both China and in Australia.
President of the China Health Care Association – aged care, Qiaoling Liu, told the Sydney audience in five years China has experienced a 22 per cent increase in the number of people over 60, which has reached 230 million in 2016.
Data from 2015 showed the country’s developing aged care sector had already 50,000 aged care providers and over 6.5 million beds, she said.
While the phenomenon of population ageing is relatively new to Chinese society, its speed is unparalleled.
Ms Liu said the Chinese government marked the aged care system as a priority sector earlier this year, and has introduced new subsidies to the industry.
“There is a growing activity of players in this sector. From the industry point of view, it is a blue sea yet to be discovered, especially in relation to the construction of facilities to go with home based care.”
However, the industry “is under double pressure from high costs and demand for human resources,” she said.
Ms Liu said the development of quality training and education to support the growth of the industry is an important area of need.
The Chinese government has set a goal of lifting average life expectancy by three years to 79 by 2030.
The integration of medical and aged care services is also a key emphasis in Healthy China 2030, a key government policy document launched by President Xi Jinping in October 2016.
Ms Liu said understanding Chinese culture, cooperation with local government and professional associations and taking part in projects that addressed the targets set out in the Healthy China 2030 blueprint were important for entry into the Chinese market.
Property developers, insurance, health and pharmaceutical companies are some of the major players in the Chinese aged care industry, said Zuo jun Cao, a partner with HeJun Group, a health and aged care consultancy in China.
“The top 100 real estate developers in China have all entered the aged care industry,” she told the forum.
She said the main opportunities for Australian aged care providers were in the areas of training, sharing managerial and operational expertise and establishing joint ventures with local Chinese aged care providers.
Ms Cao said partnerships with existing Chinese players would be critical to overseas success in China.
Lynda O’Grady, chair of the Aged Care Financing Authority, told the forum there were significant opportunities for Australian providers and training organisations to be involved in the skills development of Chinese aged care workers.
Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said from a policy and regulatory perspective, China and the international community could learn from the Australian experience of moving towards a system that is consumer-focused, market-driven and supports ageing in place.
The forum will be held again in Beijing, China in May 2018.
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