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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4326 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Earlier this year, I was contacted by a number of distressed older residents and their carers in respect of the government decision to close the aged day-care centres. The residents expressed a number of concerns. They were concerned that that they would now have to travel further and that changes in staff would see a depersonalised approach to local carers and aged residents. There were also concerns that moving elderly people away from the inner-south suburb of Narrabundah and the inner-north suburb of Dickson was just another step in an attempt to make these suburbs enclaves for young professionals.

Following constituents' concerns, I wrote to the Chief Minister and Minister for Health, calling on him to ensure that the day-care centre services were continued. As I stated in my letter to Mr Stanhope, these programs are not only about the physical aspects of the building and its location but also the mental and psychological comfort that comes from knowing the staff, the building and the location.

These programs require the respect and trust of not only the aged persons but also their families and carers as well. The need for respite and a location that is convenient, well known and respected is important for health and peace of mind.

Another concern was that not only is the Tuggeranong Centre a long way for aged persons from the inner south to travel but a change to this location would turn potential clients away due to the high demand for these services.

In concluding my letter, I asked whether any progress had been made on the decision so that I could pass this information on to the aged people and their families who had contacted my office. I heard nothing from the government until this matter was raised during question time in this place in the November sitting weeks, when we all found out that the government's decision was to close the centres and that the decision was final. This came as a surprise not only to me but to the constituents who had previously been in contact with my office.

Soon after the announcement in this place, I received a letter from the minister informing me of the decision. While acknowledging the points I raised as to the effectiveness of the programs and the communities' desire for these programs to continue, I was told that the government's decision was that the centres would be closed in order to carry out the extensive renovations required to meet OH&S requirements that were necessary for these services.

The minister did acknowledge the difficulties that would be faced by the people and went on to say, "More broadly, the care of older Canberrans is a priority for my government."Well minister, actions do speak louder than words and your action in closing the day-care centres speaks volumes for that priority.

The community is watching. I draw the Assembly's attentions to a letter that appeared in the Canberra Times last Thursday from Timothy Kelly of Ngunnawal. He noted that Minister Stanhope closed the day-care respite facility for the aged in Narrabundah a week prior to the Minister for Planning approving the demolishing of the Hungarian Australian Club, also in Narrabundah, to make way for residential units for the aged. Tim Kelly wrote:

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