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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 July 2019) . . Page.. 2408 ..

Budget—assistance for seniors

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Gupta, this is your first substantive question.

MR GUPTA: Thank you, Madam Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Seniors and Veterans. Can the minister outline for the Assembly what practical measures are in the budget to assist seniors across Canberra?

MR RAMSAY: I thank Mr Gupta for his question and welcome him not only to the Assembly but to question time. In this budget we have a great variety of measures across many portfolios which are specifically designed to assist our older Canberrans. We have increased our funding for the seniors card to support COTA to deliver the scheme, given the growing population of seniors across Canberra. We have also increased funding for the delivery of Seniors Week, to help connect seniors with groups and services of interest to them. That is a combined amount of $162,000.

We have extended rebates and concession schemes to reduce the cost of living, including the pensioner duty concession scheme being extended and the life support rebate being increased by five per cent. We have continued our trial of free off-peak public transport for those who are over 70 and we continue to support the flexible bus service with an investment of $860,000 to help our seniors move around the city more easily.

We have a significant investment in health services across the territory to make it easier for all Canberrans but particularly seniors. There are new walk-in centres, expansions to palliative care, more services at the Canberra Hospital for aged care patients, and more specialty services for seniors.

This budget is one that looks to the needs of seniors to ensure that they remain connected and integral members of the community, where they feel that they belong, where they feel that they are valued and where they have the opportunity to participate.

MR GUPTA: Minister, how are these measures supporting the social inclusion of seniors and reducing their cost of living?

MR RAMSAY: I thank Mr Gupta for the supplementary question. The budget continues the government’s grant funding for organisations who support our seniors. Last year we increased the funding for this round to $80,000 per year, and this funding continues in this year’s budget.

The budget also increases our funding of Seniors Week. That week is a highlight for many of our seniors and is something that lifts their lives across the city. The Chief Minister’s concert is a great excuse to get dressed up and to head out to listen to the band of the Royal Military College, and the Seniors Week Expo is a huge event just by itself. It is events like these that give opportunities for our seniors to be active and to be engaged with groups and causes across the city and to ensure that they remain fit and healthy.

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