UWA Social Care and Ageing   Living Lab

Driving innovation and policy development in the aged care and disability sector

About us 

A ‘social ageing’ approach to aged care emphasises the role and value of the relationships in an individual’s social support network (formal and informal), including with the environment (physical and structural), as well as the use of technologies to mediate local, virtual and distant support networks. The approach supports the development of collaborative communities of care that extend older people’s support networks.

The SAGE Lab focuses on developing and evaluating the role of technology in creating and supporting the social connection and inclusion of older people, across both residential and community living, including promoting digital citizenship.

It will have particular expertise in diversity issues, including migration, cultural and linguistic diversity, and LGBTQI status, as well as formal, informal, professional, local, distant and virtual support networks.

This initiative is the first WA member of the Australian Living Labs Network. Living Labs feature person-centred, co-design, and social innovation methodologies that bring together academics, industry partners and end-users to respond to critical issues. Through research-led collaboration, evaluation and consultancies, the Centre will facilitate partnerships with industry and government stakeholders and build capacity in research and training.





Meet the team:

Adjunct Research Fellows

  • Dr Rita Afsar, Senior Researcher and Evaluation officer, Office of Multicultural Interests
  • Dr Sue Bailey, Senior Lecturer, Social Work, Edith Cowan University
  • Kathy Blitz-Cokis, CEO at Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre
  • Professor Bianca Brijnath, Director, Social Gerontology at the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI)
  • Dr Sanet Du Toit, Senior Lecturer, Occupational Therapy, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Angelita Martini, Director, Brightwater Research Centre
  • Dr Danau Tanu, anthropologist with research interests in youth, mobility and migration, multiculturalism, and international education

Upcoming and past events



Deliver timely research and policy responses to the growing critical issue of ageing
The establishment of a UWA Social Care and Social Ageing Living Lab is particularly timely given the Federal Government’s recent launch of a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Of particular concern to the sector are the alarming rates of social isolation and loneliness among older people, and the challenge of providing social support and care services.
Lead social technological innovation
The UWA Living Lab will contribute much needed social innovation and policy development in the sector, by leveraging and evaluating the potential role of technology in social and aged care, through the co-design Living Lab methodology.
Champion the social dimensions of care and ageing
By featuring the social and relational aspects of care and ageing, the UWA Living Lab will complement existing ageing-related research centres in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, including collaboration with HMS Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC) program.


The Social Care and Ageing Living Lab leads innovation in the aged care and disability sectors through collaborative research, consultancies, evaluation, knowledge and good practice exchange to develop effective evidence-based responses to four main critical issues:

Social isolation and loneliness
Increasing age and disability are often associated with a decrease in the size of social support networks. Older adults, particularly those from migrant backgrounds and/or of diverse sexualities, are at a greater risk of becoming socially isolated, with negative consequences for health and wellbeing. Relatedly, younger people often have limited opportunities to engage with older residents in the community.
Social care
There is growing awareness of the importance of social support networks in healthy ageing, and the lack of policy, funding and resources to support it.
Meeting the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly diverse Australian population, where one in three older people are born overseas, as well as growing awareness of LGBTQI needs in aged and disability care.

We recognise the importance, potential, and complexity of ‘high’ and ‘low’ technology in creating and supporting social connection and inclusion, and in reducing isolation, as well as the need to critically evaluate interventions.

Using the Living Lab approach acknowledges the importance of designing social technologies through engaging diverse communities in user-experience research through the process of technology co-design and co-development.

This approach supports digital citizenship and inclusion of older people by increasing social connectivity, public participation, and access to services, infrastructure and resources.


Collaboration partners

Research associates
Arts, Business and Law research entity collaborators

Migration, Mobility and Belonging Network

Africa Research and Engagement Centre

UWA Centre for Policy Impact

Australian Urban Design Research Centre and School of Design

Law and Technology (Law Innovation Hub)

UWA research entity collaborators

UWA Medical Humanities Network

UWA Centre for Health and Ageing and Centre for Ageing and Mental Health

UWA Faculty of Science

Projects and publications

Contact the Social Care and Ageing Living Lab