As we grow older, how we express our identities shifts as a result of mental and physical limitations, along with our response to the way society expects us to age.

LivingProof, an exhibition featured at the SAHMRI in 2022, shared the stories of 10 residents, consumers, family members, staff and volunteers of Bene Aged Care.

In the succinct words of writer Rosa Matto: “If we ignore our storytellers we are lost.” Rosa’s beautifully penned words, complemented by the poignant photography of Italo Vardaro, offer a window into the often over-looked moments of joy, beauty and life-affirming experiences in ageing.

From the 30-something chef Roberta who has found herself at home among older people and strives to bring joy to her diners with every meal to the 106-year old Winifred whose favourite invention is the Kindle, LivingProof uncovers an unquestionable sense of identity and a rich tapestry of relationships among our older people and those who care for them.

Co-presented by the SAHMRI, LivingProof also explores some of the lifestyle factors that influence lifelong health in panel discussions on The Do’s and Don’ts of Healthy Ageing and Dining, Dignity and Health. Leading SAHMRI researchers Professor Elina Hyppönen, Professor Geraint Rogers, Professor Leonie Heilbronn and Associate Professor Gillian Caughey featured alongside Dr Karen Patterson of the International Research Collective on Food Culture and Health, and food personalities Maggie Beer and Rosa Matto.

Panel Sessions

The Do’s and Don’ts of Healthy Ageing


They say ‘you are what you eat’. That’s certainly true to an extent, but there are many factors that determine how healthily we age. To celebrate the launch of Bene’s thought-provoking LivingProof photographic exhibition at SAHMRI, hear from three healthy ageing experts, Professor Leonie Heilbronn, Professor Elina Hyppönen and Associate Professor Gillian Caughey, about what their latest research says we should and shouldn’t be doing for the best chance of maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle well into old age.

Dining, Dignity and Health


We all know that eating well is key to ageing well. But what does it mean to eat well? Professor Geraint Rogers offers his evidence-based insights on the many and varied benefits of a healthy, balanced diet, while Maggie Beer and Rosa Matto share their passion for transforming health and wellbeing in ageing through food within the broader context of food as nutrition, culture and the dining experience. And in an engaging exploration of how we construct our social identities, our families and communities through food, Dr Karen Patterson takes a look at how food helps us to understand what it means to be human. 

Artists + Panellists

  • Rosa Matto

    Rosa Matto

    Rosa is a teacher, chef and writer. A career as a culinary educator and caterer has led to an understanding of consumer needs. She is interested in improving the dining experience and quality of food for ageing Australians, particularly for those from diverse cultural backgrounds. Recently, she has collaborated on projects that focus on food, notably the consumption of fish and pulse proteins, in health and disease. She is proud to represent Nonna’s Cucina meals delivery service and to be Bene Aged Care’s Food Ambassador.

  • Italo Vardaro

    Italo Vardaro

    Italo is an illustrative and portrait photographer, born in Rose Park, Adelaide and has lived in Western Australia and South Australia. He is a Master Photographer and a life member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) as well as an assessor for emerging photographers. His work has been featured in books and publications and he has a wide national and state client base. Italo is a passionate public art advocate and a contributor and life member of the Riverland Musical Society.

  • Professor Elina Hyppönen

    Professor Elina Hyppönen

    Professor Hyppönen is the Director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health and Senior Principal Research Fellow at SAHMRI. She was recruited to the University of South Australia as the Professor in Nutritional and Genetic Epidemiology in 2013, following 12 years at the University College London, Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (London, UK). She also holds appointments as a Honorary Professor at the University College London and as an Adjunct Professor in Epidemiology at the University of Tampere, Finland. Professor Hyppönen has an interdisciplinary academic background, with academic qualifications in epidemiology, medical statistics, nutrition and public health.

  • Professor Geraint Rogers

    Professor Geraint Rogers

    Geraint is a molecular microbiologist and microbial ecologist and the Director of the Microbiome and Host Health Program at SAHMRI. His team runs a series of clinical trials within aged care facilities that deal with antimicrobial resistance and airborne pathogens. They are also preparing for a trial that investigates the many and varied benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet on health and happiness.

  • Professor Leonie Heilbronn

    Professor Leonie Heilbronn

    Leonie is the leader of SAHMRI’s Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory. She is running clinical trials that investigate the impact of diets including caloric restriction, intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating on health, in particular in relation to the development of type 2 diabetes.

  • Associate Professor Gillian Caughey

    Associate Professor Gillian Caughey

    Gill is a Senior Research Fellow with the Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) at SAHMRI. She and the ROSA team were significant contributors to the recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and consistently publish impactful research that is improving the delivery of aged care services throughout Australia.

  • Maggie Beer

    Maggie Beer

    Renowned ‘cook’, author and personality Maggie Beer established her foundation in 2014 to improve the food experiences of older Australians, especially those living in aged care homes. Maggie has made it her personal mission to link the latest research of how the food we eat can impact brain health and general wellbeing, with her innate knowledge of what good food can do for everyone’s emotional wellbeing – a truly nourishing mix, so much greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Dr Karen Patterson

    Dr Karen Patterson

    Commensality – the practice of sharing food and eating together. This simple act connects people; families, friends, colleagues and communities. Karen and her colleagues at the International Research Collective for Food Culture & Health, explore how commensality creates, nurtures and sustains our most important relationships. An immunologist by training, but with a backstory in food and hospitality, Karen now combines science, food and social research to find the ‘secret sauces’ that will translate into full, rich and satisfying lives for all.

Artist Interview

Writer Rosa Matto and photographer Italo Vardaro talk about the LivingProof exhibition presented earlier this year at the Migration Museum.


Media Coverage