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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 4 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 1394..


MS PORTER (continuing):

Last year the federal government raised the possibility that in the near future Australians may need to wait until they are 67 to get access to their superannuation savings—in effect, making 67 a universal minimum retirement age. Madam Assistant Speaker, I can tell you that 67 is a wonderful age. I find it is interesting that, in this era when people are expected to remain longer in the workplace, others seem to be written off, not appropriate for further advancement, with doubts surrounding the ongoing contribution that they can make. I can assure you, Madam Assistant Speaker, that a 67-year-old still has much to offer to the workforce as a volunteer or otherwise. Indeed, I believe that I have demonstrated the energy and commitment a 67-year-old can bring to any given task.

It should be noted that many Canberrans remain involved in the workforce as volunteers beyond what would traditionally be seen as retirement age. In doing so, they make a significant contribution to the economic life of our community. Volunteerism is an important plank in the framework that sustains us as a community. During Seniors Week, what better time than now to recognise the economic contribution of many seniors in our community in the service of others or in protecting and improving our way of life in the ACT?

Members may not know that the word "volunteer"is derived from a Latin word which means "to will"to do something. This is an important point, as it addresses the issue of giving freely. I was recently directed to a paper written by Dr Thomas Nielsen of the University of Canberra that drew a distinction between a pleasurable life, an engaged life and a meaningful life. Dr Nielsen cited research on positive psychology conducted over more than 20 years that defined a meaningful life as one where an individual's signatory strengths are used for higher purposes than one's gratification.

Indeed, the act of giving is very much at the forefront of volunteering. In the context of this motion, I would say that the contribution made by seniors is the product of their experience and their capacity. The economic life of our community is not the only beneficiary of volunteerism of older Canberrans but also there is its social wellbeing as well through that generosity.

A major and significant feature of volunteering is that it is something that is done by choice. We often find ourselves doing something on any given day of the week that is unpaid work and does not attract a salary. But it is not something that we would choose necessarily to do. I am sure we are all aware that our day-to-day household tasks known as housework are probably something we probably prefer not to have to do from time to time.

There are myriad other examples we could think of. Caring is another example. Those who care for a member of their family are doing this because they have a personal responsibility to provide that care, and they would not necessarily have a choice in the matter. No other members of the family, though they may wish to do so, may be able to do so and provide that assistance.

I am sure, through my representations on this matter, members are now very familiar with the large range of voluntary activity that is undertaken by people in the ACT. For


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