Embolden Festival

I start this piece by acknowledging the gift our elders bring to our community. Reflect on that for a minute if you will while I banter on about the work of elder champion, Dr Catherine Barrett; artist, curator, researcher and facilitator. She finds new ways to celebrate and empower elders to live their best lives. Following on from decades of experience in aged care social research, she has discovered novel methods to bring people together to push aside the barriers of ageing and highlight the wisdom and leadership elders bring to society at large.

Catherine founded Celebrate Ageing, a national program, to support elders and challenge ageism. From the crucible of Celebrate Ageing, new events and programs have been born, championing intergenerational respect and learning while dismissing the lame and unworthy stereotypes of community elders. One of those key events is the Embolden Festival, leaning into its second year in 2019, it was a celebration of everything elder, an opportunity to bring optimism to ageing through the connection of elders, service providers and other community members. It is a golden exchange of ideas and information, where learning and fun is synonymous and intergenerational interaction is voluntary and supported.

Embolden2019 bouncing from the reviews and high usefulness rating that 2018's festival garnered delivered a conference that bypasses the traditional format of speakers on a stage. The Market of Great Ideas housed all the participants in one space in a large free range conversation mecca, building and spruiking ideas to anyone interested.


And fashion, well not so much about the latest trends but instead, beauty as an attitude was celebrated on the SPUNK catwalk at Embolden2019. Catherine believes that building an 'attitude armour' centred around confidence and courage will protect elders against ageism. The festival runway shared incredible success in helping people use their body, art and fashion to communicate who they are in a public forum. For anyone over 65+ and particularly focussed on elders from various cultural backgrounds ready to represent their community with colour, flow and movement. Catherine urges communities to get together to put on a catwalk show.


Where we celebrate the contribution of elders, we cannot dismiss the power of Indigenous Elders. The Welcome to Country at Embolden2018 was delivered by Aunty Jacko representing City of Port Philip Indigenous community. The essence of the festival which is fundamentally guided by respect, is inextricably tied to the Welcome to Country. In Indigenous Australia elders have a long history of respect by their tribe, it is still earned but also revered for the solidarity and strength it provides the extended community. 2019 saw Catherine and the crew further encouraging Indigenous Australians to participate in all aspects of the festival.

Our elders are thriving citizens, seeking equality and engagement, through creativity, communication and connection. The quintessential human need for connection never wanes and Embolden Festival is just the right platform to nurture, celebrate and further that cause.