Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 April 2021) . . Page.. 1015 ..
left the service, it is very disheartening when they are not appropriately recognised by this government.
As I said, 12½ per cent of Canberrans are aged over 65 according to the 2016 census data, and that is increasing all the time. It is also disappointing that the lack of attention to and interest in seniors in the ACT is reflected across the board. For example, if you go to the Community Services Directorate website and the page relating to seniors or ageing, the first thing that you see is information about a Minister for Seniors, who is no longer even in this place. It talks about the creation of the age-friendly cities plan from May 2020. Is that because since May 2020 this government has had nothing worthwhile to talk about for seniors? Why has there been no update on that page—the front page, if you like—for seniors, since May 2020? It may be in other places, but it is not a good look that this is the last thing.
The page also refers to Mr Ramsay. He did his best to counteract the general impression in the seniors community that this government does not like older Canberrans, but it has been said many times as far back as I remember to Mr Hargreaves and to Mr Barr, who is famously known for some antipathy towards older Canberrans.
There were issues last year with information for seniors. Seniors were very strongly affected by the COVID-19 shutdown. They were concerned about their health, so they stayed home as we all urged them to do. This could lead to social isolation for them. They were desperately seeking up-to-date information. Time after time I asked the minister about this, and I was told they were getting plenty of information.
It came to the point where I had to move a motion in this place asking for better information because we were getting the glossy brochure delivered to a letterbox. It would have a lovely photo and a little bit of information saying, “If you want more information if you’re a senior, go to this website.” Of course, as we all know, many older Canberrans—not all of them, by any means—do not use the internet or the website. They were crying out for better information. Finally, through the motion in the Assembly and through the work of fantastic organisations such as COTA ACT—which was also clamouring for more information for their members—the government understood that it was falling down in the provision of information to seniors during the COVID pandemic. It is true that the seniors I speak to feel undervalued and sometimes ignored by this Labor-Greens government.
Another area where that is apparent is in transport, with the Network 19 changes to the bus network. Many, many residents spoke to me, to Mr Parton and, I am sure, to all members of the Assembly about how negatively they were impacted. For example, in Wanniassa an older lady I spoke to would catch the bus from a bus stop pretty much outside her house to go to Wanniassa shops to do her groceries. That bus stop was removed; her bus was cancelled. She had to rely on a family member to take her to the shops or get a taxi. Yes, she could get the flexi-bus, but she felt that it had taken away her independence. Her story is just one example and is so reflective of how so many older Canberrans felt about the Network 19 changes.