Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 April 2005) . . Page.. 1340 ..
program for the week, and of the ACT government’s support for programs to promote active ageing and support older citizens in our community?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Porter for the question. Indeed today is seniors week and, during this week, we aim to celebrate the contribution of older Canberrans to shaping and building our community. The program for this week includes the traditional Chief Minister’s breakfast, now, I think, in its seventh year, that I had the pleasure of attending yesterday; a major concert—“A month of Sundays”—a play about older people in a nursing home, which opens tomorrow night; and the announcement of lifetime achievement awards on Thursday; as well as a full range of other programs.
It is a very broad program which features seminars, a photographic competition and exhibition, computing classes, a debate, a day at the races, a tai chi demonstration and the seniors Olympics, which the minister for sport attended today as minister and potentially as a senior. During the week seniors can enjoy free bus travel, free hearing screening and discounted cinema tickets.
The government is very proud to support seniors week and we welcome the opportunity to again thank older Canberrans for their hard work and commitment. This year the government has significantly boosted funding for seniors week. We have made a direct contribution of $30,000 for the running or support of seniors week, support that we will continue in future years. The Public Trustee’s office has provided a further $10,000 in cash to support the “Life’s reflections” photographic competition being run at COTA headquarters in Hughes. I encourage all members to visit that very significant photographic exhibition.
We support seniors week because we believe in valuing older residents of our community. We believe that they are a tremendous asset to our community. They have a fundamentally important role to play; and, of course, they are most important in providing so much of the cement that binds our community and makes it the wonderful place it is.
It is important that we stop some of the practices that have impacted on attitudes towards seniors—the view that they are a drain on the public purse; that they are an ever-growing group of people who, in some way, are a burden, which is far from the truth. We need to stop thinking of our ageing population in bleak terms. We need to understand that this is one of the major issues facing our community.
I think that, as of now, there are something in the order of 37,000 people of 60 years and over within the ACT community. Our demographers have calculated that, within the next five years—perhaps by 2010—that could have increased by another 23,000 people to around 60,000 people of 60 years of age or over. That provides a stark example of the issues that face us as a rapidly ageing community.
The government is doing as much as it can and giving real priority to ensuring that we support our seniors and acknowledge their major contribution, in the past and into the future, in establishing and maintaining this city. That is why we have developed a whole new approach to the development and support of aged care accommodation through our strategic plan, Preparing for an ageing community.