Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3705..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
shop and then socialise with others, reducing isolation. In addition to employed drivers, volunteers play a major role in the provision of community transport.
I should also say that the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing has recently held a number of meetings across the community—I think from memory four meetings across the ACT, including one here—focusing on transport. I understand that through that process a significant amount of surveys were completed. So I agree with Mr Mulcahy that this is at the core of many of the issues involving our ageing community. It is certainly a critical issue and I will look at how I can provide to the Assembly the information that has come out of that transport survey. I have not seen it yet, but I think it will certainly be very interesting in terms of older people telling us exactly where there are gaps and what further assistance they would like from the government to assist them in the area of transport and their mobility around the ACT.
I might leave it there. I am pleased Mr Mulcahy brought it to the Assembly. It is an issue that all elected representatives are going to need to struggle with, and governments particularly in terms of further assistance to provide good mobility strategies for our ageing community. The demographics on ageing are such that by 2025 a quarter of our population will be over the age of 60 and we need to start planning now to deal with that.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.58): I thank Mr Mulcahy for raising this MPI because it relates to one of the most critical emerging issues for all countries, particularly how to handle the enormous number of baby boomers who are starting to age just at the right time and who will require increasing support in such areas as health, accommodation and personal support.
My colleague has set out the broad dimensions of the issue for Australia. But in terms of how it affects Canberra there are some important considerations on just the physical shape and set-up of Canberra that exacerbate the problem of ageing. Two of those are that Canberra was built in an era when it was designed for cars, throughout the sixties, and there was a lack of density in population. Whereas in a city like Sydney or Melbourne within short distances there are many options in terms of public transport, and normally within communities there are many options in terms of shopping and access to medical facilities and recreation, that is not often the case in Canberra. If you live at the far end of Banks or Gungahlin often quite long distance trips are required to get to your destination. The whole problem is then exacerbated by the government's decision, for instance, to reduce the current ACTION network.
Older people tend not to travel in the peak hours, because they might sleep in, get up later or are not interested in being part of the morning rush or the afternoon rush. They travel between the peaks. And what are the government doing in terms of ACTION bus services? To quote from their own document, they are reducing frequency during the day between peaks—and this is when older people travel. They will have fewer options in terms of public transport. So if you drive you are probably okay, but if you do not drive you have fewer options, and if you were considering giving up driving it may keep you in your car longer than you wanted to—because this government are not providing real options for older people in Canberra.
There are many other issues that impact on the mobility of older people and they are not confined to using a car. Some of these are vision impairment, other physical impairment,