Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3939..
MS PORTER: As we all know, the ACT has a rapidly ageing population, ageing faster than in other jurisdictions. The challenges posed by an ageing population are increasingly becoming the focus of economic and social policy not only for the ACT government but for governments at every level. That is why I am pleased today to be able to formally table this discussion paper on retirement villages in the ACT. This paper is the result of extensive research into and consultation on the retirement village industry in the ACT and other jurisdictions across Australia.
As I said, we are facing a very real challenge in relation to the ageing of our population, which is the result of a decline in fertility rates, an increase in life expectancy and the ageing of our baby boomer generation. The 2006 census indicates there are almost 66,000 people aged 55 years and over living in the ACT. It is expected by 2047 that the proportion of people living in the ACT aged 65 years and over will represent 21.5 per cent of the total population. This is double the current elderly portion of our population.
As the population ages, people are expected to live longer, continue to be actively participating in the paid or voluntary workforce and maintain a high level of general health and wellbeing. It is also expected that many people will seek to downsize their current living arrangements. Those elderly people in our community remaining in the family home large enough to raise a family and set on a reasonable sized block may be presented with challenges that, if not solved, may have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing. It was found during the consultation process that people contemplating a move to a retirement village may not do so until their 80th year and beyond. This phenomenon poses additional challenges for those managing retirement village living. Because of this, it is important that individuals are able to make informed choices that continue to maximise their living arrangements and their independence as they grow older.
The ACT government continues to support positive ageing through a number of strategies. The Stanhope government has a range of initiatives to make downsizing more affordable for older Canberrans and to help people adapt to their housing and to age in place. In relation to aged care and independent living property development, the government is committed to working with the building industry and aged-care providers to reduce the time in delivering high-quality aged-care accommodation. The whole-of-government case management approach that the Chief Minister has talked about before has assisted proponents of virtually all projects. The Chief Minister outlined this in detail in answer to a question during question time earlier today.
I have taken a personal interest in the welfare of people who have chosen to live in a retirement village environment, as a number of matters in relation to their living arrangements have been raised with me. I believed it was important for me to explore this issue further and give people a voice. The people to whom I needed to give a voice were those most affected by government policy in this area. In order to explore the experience and concerns of stakeholders, such as retirement village operators and managers, residents and peak senior organisations, I consulted widely through a