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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 15 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5704..


MS BURCH (continuing):

I come to the fourth priority which is housing and accommodation. This, of course, concerns access to appropriate and affordable housing. The ACT government has long recognised the need to foster innovative accommodation choices for older Canberrans. This is reflected in our endeavours to ensure land release, planning requirements, concession programs and public and community housing options support the needs of this group.

The August 2009 report on phase 2 of the ACT affordable housing action plan included many recommendations that address the housing needs of older people, for example, the need to work with industry to develop universally designed guidelines for the territory. The current commonwealth government's nation building and jobs plan is also providing a welcome injection of funds for additional appropriate public and community housing for seniors, with many specifically designed for older peoples' properties under construction.

The fifth priority concerns support services. It is essential that seniors are able to access appropriate and accessible support services that can assist them to maintain active and relatively independent lives. There are many support services for older people provided by ACT community and government agencies. The government is currently exploring the concept of a virtual village, a membership service cooperative model, a model that allows people to remain in their own homes through the provision of a variety of services, such as home maintenance, gardening and shopping. The government also recognises the value of cultural and competent aged care services and will continue to promote appropriate staff training for service providers.

Transport and mobility is the plan's sixth priority. The objective is to enable seniors to move around the community through personal, community and public transport and through neighbourhood walkways. In 2008, to complement public transport, the Chief Minister launched six regional bus services which provide a flexible door-to-door service. The plan identifies the need to evaluate the operation of these services in order to maximise their response to community need. Other actions already planned include the gradual replacement of the ACTION fleet with wheelchair accessible buses and the exploration of new options for securing mobility aids in buses and taxis.

The seventh and final priority concerns work and retirement. It is essential that people are assisted to plan for their retirement and, once retired, continue to actively participate in our community through paid and unpaid work and through educational and recreational activities. Through its mature age employment strategy, the government plans to explore ways to support older people in the ACT public service, for example, through flexible working hours. The government will also work with non-government employers to encourage their support for older employees to remain in the workforce to gradually transition to retirement and to use the mentoring potential of older people and older employees. The government will be working to encourage more pre-retirement courses to help people successfully make this transition.

The plan also identifies the importance of training and learning opportunities as well as recreational community activities which will help to encourage the continued participation of seniors in the workforce and community life. The government


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