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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1942 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

In 1997 almost 21 per cent of the Canberra population was over 50 years of age, and 7.5 per cent were over 65 years of age. In about 10 years time these numbers are forecast to increase significantly, with 33.7 per cent 50 years and over, and 12.5 per cent 65 and over.

Elder abuse is an issue that concerns a particularly vulnerable group of people in our community. Our older people deserve better than this. They deserve respect and the concern and protection of all of us. The government recognises the need to plan for an ageing population in our city.

We went to the election with a plan for older Canberrans. The plan outlines our aim to create an inclusive community, one where older people feel safe and valued. We made a number of commitments in relation to housing, lifelong learning, mature age employment, health and community care, all aimed at protecting and enhancing the lives of our mature citizens.

We developed the plan after talking extensively to people in the community and many different community organisations.

A key initiative of the government has been the decision to establish a ministerial advisory council on ageing, the first such council in the ACT since the introduction of self-government. I am pleased to say that there was an enormous response to the request for nominations to the council. Nominations were received from an impressive array of people with differing interests, experience and backgrounds. The council will have a broad focus and provide advice to the government on older people's issues and needs, including particularly the insidious problem of elder abuse. I would encourage the council to be forthright in providing advice to the government, and I propose to announce the membership of the Aged Care Advisory Council in the next couple of days.

I note that report No 11 of the former Standing Committee on Health and Community Care-chaired by my colleague Mr Wood-entitled "Elder Abuse in the ACT", provided 14 recommendations covering future policy development and service delivery responses. The importance of developing a smooth interface between government, service providers and other agencies was also highlighted. I would like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Health and Community Care for their work on the elder abuse inquiry and congratulate them on the detailed community consultation they conducted.

While the government supports all of the report's recommendations in principle, it believes that a number of recommendations require further consideration. In this regard, an early action-perhaps the first action-of the new Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing will be to consider the recommendations of the standing committee and advise the government accordingly. The advice will assist the government in the development of a practical and detailed response to the report's recommendations and in the advancement of real initiatives that will significantly reduce elder abuse in the territory.

We want to make sure that a heightened awareness and a clearer focus can eradicate the menace of elder abuse. The government reinforces its commitment to working with the broader community and service providers to address the many issues raised in the inquiry. We all want our older citizens to enjoy the safe, comfortable and productive life

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