Page 2692 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 21 September 2022

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Whilst we should be fiscally responsible and continue to strive to make Canberra a more sustainable city, we must do so in a just way. That means leaving no-one behind. It means making changes that reduce inequality and increase inclusion. This is reflected in the way that the ACT approaches policy in this space, evidenced by the ACT climate change strategy, which contains actions on a just transition, as well as efforts to reduce the impact of the phasing out of single-use plastics, such as plastic straws, on people with disability who need them as an accessibility tool.

ACT government information and communications should be fit for purpose. Over the last few years ACT government communications played a vital role in the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout this period, the ACT government has distributed important information and advice to the ACT community on how to stay safe during COVID, including providing accessible and tailored information, in partnership with the community sector, to targeted audiences, such as people with disability, older Canberrans, carers, the multicultural community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We have used a range of traditional and social media sources, government networks, community partner connections, webinars and newsletters to the sector.

I would like to particularly thank COTA ACT, Advocacy for Inclusion, Carers ACT, the members of the Disability Reference Group, the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing, the Ministerial Advisory Council for Veterans and their Families, and many others in our community sector for all they do to support accurate and accessible information being shared throughout their networks, and also the large number of people from the seniors community in Canberra who have met with me and have specifically asked for particular types of information to be shared through the Our Canberra newsletter because they know that people read it.

Direct and appropriate communications to those most at risk from COVID-19, and their carers, about testing and accessing medical treatment early, if required, including antivirals, has made—and is making—a real difference. We continue to do this today to ensure that the most at risk in our community are not left behind. Older people, like all age groups, are a diverse group, and this applies to their digital literacy and engagement. A range of information channels is therefore important to capture and communicate with older Canberrans.

Older people are increasingly online, particularly in light of the COVID-19 experience. However, research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority on older people’s use of digital media, following COVID-19, suggests that older people’s views of the digital world remain circumspect. The research suggests that some older people may be feeling forced online. Research from National Seniors on older people’s digital engagement as a result of COVID-19 found an increase in digital technology use but a decrease in comfort using online and digital technologies. This has no doubt informed much of the feedback the ACT government received from key stakeholders in the last two years about the importance of having information available in hard copy print.

As Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, I have been very happy to see the great work in our community sector to reduce digital exclusion, supported

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