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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1943 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

that they so clearly deserve, and to be protected, particularly from these forms of abuse and violence and neglect, to the end of their lives.

I can assure members that the government will respond to report No 11 by the Standing Committee on Health and Community Care on elder abuse in the ACT in a timely and effective manner. Indeed, the government is more than happy to support Ms Dundas' motion. It is good, and always timely, that we focus on a range of issues that are of concern to us in the community. Issues such as elder abuse cannot gain too much exposure; they are issues that we need to talk about.

One of the difficulties with issues around abuse, discrimination and violence has always been the extent to which taboos of one sort or another, or sensibilities and sensitivities of those involved or affected, influence our capacity to respond and for such incidents to be reported and acted on. It really is one of the intractable issues around dealing with issues such as domestic violence or elder abuse, which is another form of family violence essentially, more often than not. Of course, our capacity to deal with those sorts of issues is to have them reported in the first place and, once reported, to have systems in place that allow appropriate responses to the issues.

These are difficult and intractable issues. Nevertheless, most importantly and most pressingly, the government takes them seriously. The government takes the report produced by the health committee in the last Assembly seriously. We are in the process of working up responses. I have no difficulty in committing the government to a positive response in principle to each and all of the recommendations. We believe, however, that there are some issues around some of the recommendations that would benefit from further consultations with a body such as the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing to better inform our responses.

But the government will support Ms Dundas' motion. It is always good that we bring to public attention issues such as this. I think one of the things that have led to the prevalence of all forms of violence, particularly within the family or within the community, is that they are hidden from view; that they haven't been reported. One can understand some of those elements that perhaps have led to incidents of elder abuse not being reported-issues around the dependency of people that are subjected to abuse or violence, the fact that those people depend so much on their abusers often for their day-to-day support, and indeed for their capacity simply to survive the day. Of course, it is this issue of people's dependency on their abusers that renders elder abuse so difficult for us to deal, and that is what makes some of these issues so hard, so sad and so heart wrenching.

The government acknowledges the issue. As I say, we accept in principle all of the recommendations, we are in the process of responding to them in an active and practical way, we will consult further with the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing and we will respond fully to the recommendations. I thank Ms Dundas for bringing the issue forward for debate.


(3.35): Ms Dundas, we support your motion. As for the government, it is about time. I have just listened to a great deal of waffle from the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, you had six months to address this question of the report and you have

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