Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3227 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
I believe that the original motion moved by Mr Cornwell was a tad prescriptive by specifying, without providing any backup evidence, the number of beds that are needed in a specific area. I think this could limit the government in respect of how it places future aged-care facilities across Canberra.
Mr Corbell has moved an amendment that urges the ACT and Commonwealth governments to continue to adopt and implement measures to address the growing level of demand for appropriate accommodation for older Canberrans and their families, and I think that is a very important part of what we are talking about today.
A number of elderly people that I speak to see nursing homes as a place to go to die and it is not the kind of accommodation that they are looking for. They are looking for support, but they are looking for it in their homes and in their communities as opposed to being continually forced to move into a place that they feel will limit their freedoms and abilities and that will prepare them for something that they are not looking forward to. I think the greater debate about future aged-care facilities needs to recognise this-that we are not just looking at nursing homes; that we are looking at supporting older Canberrans in the ways that they want to be supported.
Demographic profiles that have come out over the last number of weeks clearly highlight that our population is getting older and that in the future the bulk of our population will consist of people of older age. We are living longer. The baby boomers are now looking at retirement and looking at their future. I think we can all appreciate the fact that baby boomers do not want to be cooped up in a nursing facility. They would prefer to continue their freedom and enjoy the retirement they have been looking forward to.
But that does not mean we should be ignoring this significant problem. The amendment moved by Ms Tucker calls on the government to report to the Assembly about measures being taken to address that need. The strategies and the time lines that are being put in place are incredibly important. We need information for better future planning.
I will be supporting the amendments moved by Mr Corbell and Ms Tucker. The motion is quite prescriptive and restrictive and I believe that the amendments will make it broader and allow greater debate.
I would also like to comment on some of the things that were said earlier in this debate. As I said, it did get quite heated. I think Mrs Cross made the comment that we need to value older people, and I certainly agree with that statement. But she also went on to indicate that they are also voters and, hence, are very important. Aged persons do vote and that is important, but we need to remember the part of our community that does not vote. People under the age of 18 are just as important as everybody else in our community and should not be devalued because of their lack of legal status. I was just a bit concerned to hear that comment being bandied around. We have had that debate long and hard many times in this Assembly.
As I said, I welcome the debate on aged-care facilities. It is something that we need to be planning for. We need to be putting steps in place quite quickly to deal with the ageing population. That is why I think Ms Tucker's amendment to Mr Corbell's amendment is