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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3193 ..

The demographic profile of Canberra is rapidly changing. The growth in both the number of people in the ACT approaching retirement age and the retired population stands in contrast with national figures. This is having a significant impact on the nature of community demand and the manner in which services are delivered in the ACT. Social isolation is one of the most important issues when it comes to older people. Access to affordable housing, transport, health services and social opportunities are all key factors in keeping older people healthy and connected to their communities. A positive ageing strategy highlights activities aimed at decreasing social isolation, yet we do not have actual information on what funding is directed to the strategy. This issue again goes to recommendation 6 of the estimates committee report around accountability indicators for government plans and strategies.

The Council on the Ageing, COTA, has raised a number of issues which impact greatly on older people. The situation of older people dealing with the private rental market has continued to worsen with some older people having to pay half of their incomes on rent. Transport is also a key factor in combating social isolation, and it has been noted by COTA that the personal motor vehicle remains the principal mode of transport for older people in the ACT. It is reported that over 80 per cent of older people drive once a week and more than 25 per cent are passengers in their own vehicles. (Second speaking period taken.) Furthermore, it has been noted that limited alternatives for older people make the ability to drive and the use of a motor vehicle critical for mobility.

This is a further reason why accessible buses are important, particularly ensuring that they turn up on schedule. The community buses are a good initiative introduced by the government. However, I hope there will be consideration of greater flexibility with this service so they can work with existing public transport and also travel out of area if that is required.

Lastly, I would like to refer to recommendation 37 in the estimates report, which Ms Hunter has already mentioned tonight—that is, that future ACT budget papers include the funding breakdown for output 3.2 relating to community affairs. The government has not agreed to this recommendation, stating that reporting this level of detail would be onerous and expand the size of the budget papers.

I actually think this recommendation may have been somewhat misunderstood. The committee was asking for the total budget for this output, showing what is applicable to each of the areas or each of the agencies. I would have thought that this would have been clear, given that each office dealing with each area, such as the Office for Ageing, has a set budget. The government should know and provide to the community what is spent in each area or office.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10:17): I just want to speak briefly about the energy concession rebate which falls under the DHCS portfolio. The government has made some changes in this year’s budget. Some of them are welcome, and I would like to make some other comments as well. We were pleased to see the increase in the energy concession rebate in the budget, but it was not as much as hoped. It is $20 a year, but prices rose by $30 just in the last year alone. When it was announced, I noted in my budget speech a few weeks ago that there was nothing to make up for the

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