Page 1341 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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We also have the Canberra gold awards, which I was pleased to inaugurate last year and which were first presented on Canberra’s 92nd birthday just last month. I had the enormous pleasure of presenting certificates—along with colleagues—to just on 1,000 men and women, each of whom have given more than five decades of life, service and support to the Canberra community in a whole range of ways. Those awards are a small but I think very meaningful and important symbol of the great regard in which we hold longstanding residents of our city. They are an acknowledgment of the important role each of them has played in building our community from the ground up.

Our commitment to older Canberrans is not evident just on Canberra Day or during seniors week; it continues all year. I think, nevertheless, that there is in this seniors week, with the full range of events being conducted by and for seniors, an event that would enable each of us to show our genuine appreciation to Canberra’s older residents.

MS PORTER: Can the minister inform the chamber of the outcomes of the inaugural seniors grants program?

MR STANHOPE: I am pleased to be able to do that. This is a new grants scheme. It was initiated by my government. I think it is a terrific new initiative. It is to help people to age actively and to stay connected to the community. It is very, very consistent with our aims, through the social plan, to ensure that everybody in our community of Canberra has the opportunity to continue to participate as they wish within society. It is very important that we do more and more to ensure that that degree of capacity for connectedness is there.

This year, the inaugural year of the seniors grants program, 38 groups have shared a total of $76,000 in grants. The grants will provide invaluable opportunities for seniors to get out and share their knowledge and experience with the community, encourage exercise, get people singing, help them with the internet, et cetera. The projects and activities that have been granted funds are incredibly diverse. I think there is something there that would allow us to support a whole range of activities for seniors within the community.

Some of the programs that will be supported through this year’s grants scheme include: the Canberra Mothercraft Society will run a course to support grandparents caring for children; the ACT Jewish community has received funding to develop an oral history project; Tuggeranong Valley FM will run a program to recruit seniors to present community radio programs; the Canberra Seniors Centre will offer beginners computer classes; Goodwin Aged Care Services has received funding for a weekly exercise program for their residents; and new theatre awards will recognise the tremendous contribution of seniors to arts and culture within the ACT.

It is very pleasing that we were able to fund 38 of the groups that applied for funding. Very many missed out. It was very popular. It is a program that has been funded by the government into the outyears. I look forward, over the years, to seeing other groups caring for and concerned about the life and connectedness of our seniors joining in and receiving funding under this very, very significant program.

I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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