Page 2693 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 21 September 2022
by the technology upgrade fund, through which $478,000 was distributed in 2021, and similarly distributed this year, and the next and the one after that. Not everyone in our community has access to a smartphone or an internet connected home computer or feels confident using it to access the information and services that they need.
Community organisations have received grants to cover the costs of hardware and software, training and programs that make digital technology easier to access for those in our community most at risk of not being able to engage online. Recognising the greater reliance on offline information among older people, the Office for Seniors and Veterans newsletter, as an example, is very deliberately made available through post and in hard copy to ACT libraries and the flexible bus service.
Members of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing have identified Our Canberra as an important source of accessible offline ACT government information for older Canberrans. A 2021 survey on Our Canberra found that Canberrans aged 65 and over were more likely than any other age group to mention it as a way to stay informed about issues in their local area.
For many parts of our community, such as older Canberrans, people with disability and carers, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and we have much more work to do. To those Canberrans still at risk from COVID, I have not forgotten about you and I am committed to ensuring that you have the supports you need, including access to information in a format that works for you.
The ACT government should strive towards making Canberra a more sustainable city. However, consideration of the frequency of delivery of the Our Canberra newsletter should not be to the detriment of older Canberrans, who are already at greater risk of social isolation and not receiving the appropriate health information and advice. That is why I am pleased to see the addition of a clause to Mr Parton’s motion to continue to ask Canberrans what communication channels they would like to see the government use for the delivery of important information, with specific consideration for community members such as older Canberrans and people at risk of digital exclusion, who may rely on physical newsletters to receive government communications.
I would also like to acknowledge my Greens colleagues in the Assembly for their work in creating a more sustainable Canberra, particularly Shane Rattenbury, as the Minister for Energy, Water and Emissions Reduction; Rebecca Vassarotti, as the Minister for the Environment; and, of course, Jo Clay, as the Greens spokesperson for transport, active travel, parks and conservation, and the circular economy.
“You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting,” as Anakin Skywalker’s mum said, but as the way we communicate changes we must keep in mind that the pace of change may need to be different for some in our community.
In closing, I support the amendment moved by the Chief Minister. I thank his office for working with me to amend and include provisions on how older Canberrans’ needs should be considered as part of a review into the Our Canberra newsletter.