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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 November 2010) . . Page.. 5602 ..

Sitting suspended from 6 to 7.30 pm.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (7.30): I would like to make a brief contribution to this issue and speak a little about how I have been engaging with older members of our community. Obviously, older Canberrans, like all other people in our community, like to have a say on what is happening in their community. It is evident that they have a critical contribution to make, based on their experience. The government understands how important it is that we have a dialogue with different sections of our community, including older people.

There are several ways in which older people can participate in community decision making processes in a robust way. This government has taken a considered approach and has formulated a structure through which older Canberrans are engaging in the policy process. As the minister noted earlier, the government regularly speaks with the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing. I join her in recognising their important work in speaking with seniors peak bodies, seniors organisations and a range of individuals and addressing issues of interest to older Canberrans.

The minister has outlined in detail other ways in which the government engages with older people. Of course, this is consistent with our engagement with various people in our community, including a number of bodies that represent the diverse groups of people that exist in Canberra. There are a number of different forums, such as the Youth Coalition of the ACT, the multicultural forum, the Council on the Ageing and ACTCOSS—to name just a few. All of these organisations engage with a range of people in our community, including older people—but not all, of course, when you talk about the Youth Coalition. When you talk about the Youth Coalition, many of these young people have older family members and they can represent their views, as older people represent the views of younger people.

The high level of engagement in this city and amongst its people is very evident. One only has to go to the recently launched and updated contact publication of the Citizens Advice Bureau to see how engaged people are in this community. It is one of the features of Canberra that people appreciate—that they have the opportunity to have their voice heard and have their government so accessible to them. Where else could you find your Chief Minister and your Deputy Chief Minister holding a regular talkback session on your local radio station?

As we know, older Canberrans also choose to engage, of their own volition, on separate or on other objective issues that are particularly relevant to their lives. We see this time and time again when groups coalesce around an issue. I saw this generic process unfold when retirement village residents worked together to form the ACT Retirement Village Residents Association, largely as a means of establishing a collective voice on issues of interest to retirement villages, not least of which is the exposure draft of the Retirement Villages Bill that I tabled in the Legislative Assembly earlier this year.

All other states and the Northern Territory have retirement village residents associations. The New South Wales residents association has attempted to represent

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