Robert Floyd is taking a break from electrical contracting to hit the catwalk as part of a inaugural conference combatting ageism.
The Wangaratta businessman will join mayor Ken Clarke in modelling for ‘Embolden’, a conference taking place next week in St Kilda.
Established by Catherine Barrett who launched Celebrate Ageing in 2016, it brings together experts and older people who want to work positively on healthy ageing.
“Celebrate Ageing does work around challenging ageism and building respect for older people – I think we are so ageist we don’t even recognise it,” she said.
“When we read stories about ageism and elder abuse, it makes us sad for the older person and anxious about our own futures.
“So when we see older people claiming their space and saying ‘I’m here and I’m beautiful’, it gives hope.
“We decided to have this fashion parade and all the models would be 65 and over.
“We want to challenge the idea beauty is the prerogative of youth; we change as we age, but we are not less beautiful.”
Dr Barrett said there would be many groups of models representing different lifestyles, including “Blokes from the Bush” dressed in flannelette.
“We’re asking our models what attitude they would take to the catwalk and how they would then take that attitude into daily life, and particularly for older farmers how to get them through tough times,” she said.
“Ken Clarke’s message is to reach out, and he was also talking about really living life and having fun.”
Mr Floyd, who with his family runs Floyd Industries and a farming venture, isn’t nervous in the slightest about strutting his stuff, in fact he “was happy as pie” to do so.
“I think it’s a good cause and you couldn’t ask for anybody better to work with than Ken – he’s a good friend,” he said.
“I was chuffed to be asked.
“One of the privileges of getting into the latter years is that a lot of things I might have worried about when I was 22, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at now.”
The electrician of 55 years was nominated for Blokes from the Bush by Maria Berry, a North East elder abuse advocate who is assistant curator of Embolden.
“One of the fellow alumni in the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership program got me in contact with Robert,” she said.
“He’s flown up his hand without any second thought.”
Mrs Berry said Embolden was a positive action in a time where behaviours being uncovered in the aged care sector were cause for despair.
“I’ve had people say to me, ‘It’s a bit fluffy’, but I’m still an advocate and still aiming for law reform, I just think people need hope,” she said.
“This is bringing solutions that are out of the bureaucratic box.
“We need a long-term fix into the future, we need to change the way we think; ageism is not right.”