28 March 2024

UOW Health and Wellbeing Precinct a unique campus, catering to all generations

| Jen White
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An artist's impression of a health centre

An artist’s impression of what the UOW Health and Wellbeing Precinct may look like. Photos: University of Wollongong.

The latest plans for Australia’s first intergenerational university, proposed for the Innovation Campus, are on exhibition and open for public feedback.

The University of Wollongong has lodged an updated development application with Wollongong Council for phase one of its Health and Wellbeing Precinct, including the first stage of works to demolish a car park and prepare the site for construction.

The development application is an updated version of the site’s master plan, which was submitted to the council in 2020. Following public consultation and council requirements, the plan features three building spaces instead of six, the proposed height limits have been brought into line and the Green Heart at the centre of the precinct has more than doubled in size.

UOW says the precinct will be Australia’s first intergenerational university community, “a place for living, learning, working and growing in an environment that supports complete physical, social and mental health and wellbeing”.

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It aims to revolutionise the integration of research, clinical practice and patient-led care, dramatically improving the level of community-designed and preventive healthcare in the region.

It will create settings, spaces and initiatives to serve as focal points for different generations to meet, interact and collaborate, providing opportunities for connection across lifespans, including between infants, students, campus staff and older residents.

The precinct proposes to eventually deliver 231 seniors’ independent living units, 120 residential aged-care beds and an 80-place childcare centre.

It will feature multi-use spaces and a wellness centre, dedicated teaching, learning and research spaces, food and drink premises, neighbourhood shops and business premises, and open space.

an artist's impression of a health centre

Another view of the proposed precinct.

The first phase of the precinct will be delivered over three to four years, starting with the site preparation works.

Part of the P4 parking area will be demolished, costing 296 spaces, while another 16 spaces will be lost in P3 for the temporary use of construction vehicles.

However, new parking areas are proposed to replace those spaces, to the north of the iAccelerate building and behind the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials building.

The residential aged-care facility (RACF) will provide assisted care for seniors, with meals and cleaning services, personal care, and nursing care to meet a range of care needs, particularly for frail or physically dependent residents requiring a higher level of care.

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It will include a proportion of dementia beds and affordable/concessional beds and will also provide a range of services including access to health practitioners, clinical care and therapy, health and wellbeing facilities and other social programs.

UOW plans to operate it with interaction with university students and graduates/teachers/researchers, independent seniors, children in the childcare centre on site and with local schools and community groups.

The childcare centre will be co-located next to the RACF and will accommodate a range of users including UOW staff and students, health professionals as well as potential families from the surrounding areas.

UOW says the co-location of the youngest users of the precinct with the oldest residents in the same building will promote intergenerational living and life-long learning.

an artist's impression of a health centre

Green Heart is planned to be a public place for recreation and community activities.

The Independent Living Apartment Stage 1 building will feature one, two or three-bedroom accommodation for people over 55 years of age who can live independently in their own homes while enjoying the shared facilities within a UOW Campus community.

The building will also include an integrated wellness centre and retail, commercial and communal uses.

The hub of the precinct will be a health clinic, the Community Health Building (CHB), dedicated to being a centre of excellence in integrated health research, teaching, learning and health care to address key issues facing the Illawarra.

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It will complement existing health services in the Illawarra by offering non-surgical care focused on preventive health issues to maintain overall physical and mental wellbeing as people age.

An Australian-first, the university-led clinic will provide a one-stop shop model of care with the central focus being the needs of patients and their families.

It will bring together a range of health professionals including doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, dietitians, dentists, pharmacists, academics and pathologists.

At the centre of the precinct, the Green Heart will be a public place for recreation, community activities, and social interaction between residents, students, workers and visitors.

A chain of ponds will be established in the Green Heart and integrated as part of the precinct’s water-collection and retention system. It is envisaged that this open space area will accommodate a community garden, water features mimicking the alignment of the former watercourse through the site, and a raised decked area to act as a stage or gathering space for community events.

The revised development application can be viewed on the council’s online services portal, where feedback can be submitted until 15 December.

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