Page 1926 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022
I thank everybody who participated in this debate today, and I look forward to the further conversations when the government’s amendments are introduced and the bill is debated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Seniors—mental health and wellbeing strategy
MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.29): Along with the rest of Australia, Canberra’s population is ageing. Canberra provides some of the highest standards of health and wellbeing in Australia, with our older people, on average, having the highest life expectancy in the country. However, this increased life expectancy, the growing ageing population, and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to intensify demand on the aged-care, healthcare and social support systems that support the needs of older people. It is important that we are able to enhance our services to be responsive to these increasing needs.
We know that there are a range of complex factors that shape the mental health and wellbeing outcomes of our older Canberrans. These can be mental, physical, social, economic and environmental. Older people can be vulnerable to experiencing poor mental health due to their increased susceptibility to chronic disease and disability; changes in socio-economic circumstances or access to appropriate and affordable housing that can occur after retirement; and the social and emotional challenges associated with ageing.
Older people are also not precluded from experiencing mental illness. Some older people will have aged with mental illness, while others will be diagnosed later in life. We know that sometimes the intersections between aged-care or older persons’ services and the mental health sectors can be complex to navigate and that there are identified gaps in the current way we do things that can mean that the mental health needs of older people go undetected or untreated.
While we acknowledge that there are many positive aspects to the current ACT older persons’ mental health sector, with some targeted programs being delivered at a high standard, we also acknowledge that there are many areas that will benefit from development to strengthen our mental health service response. We want to see our ageing population not only be able to access the right kinds of mental health supports when they need them but also be supported to live mentally healthy lives and continue to be productive and active members of our community.
It is in response to this complex and shifting landscape that I am pleased to be able to share with the Legislative Assembly today the Re-envisioning Older Persons’ Mental Health and Wellbeing in the ACT Strategy 2022-2026. The strategy is the result of a series of consultations with key stakeholders across the mental health and older persons’ health services sectors to seek advice on measures the ACT government can take to improve the mental health and wellbeing outcomes of older Canberrans.