Page 1383 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Along with a number of members from both sides of the Assembly, I also attended the Chief Minister’s breakfast on Monday morning at the Ainslie Football Club, where we heard from entertainers Gerry Scott and Leisa Kean, who performed so well. Amongst those present at both the ecumenical service and the breakfast was Reverend John Wakefield of the Uniting Church in Reid, who also has responsibility for his parish in Hackett.

Seniors Week celebrates the diversity of older people in the ACT and promotes positive ageing in the broader ACT community. It is important that we recognise this week, which began on 2 April and will actually continue through to 10 April, with numerous events happening all over Canberra. The rather exciting program has begun, with community activities such as the come and try technology sessions, interactive information sessions and competitions that actively encourage participation. There are cultural activities, such as playing music or teaching traditional crafts, and recreational activities, such as song and dance, storytelling and sporting activities, including a competition in Manuka involving younger and older generations. Activities will continue over the next five days involving participation by older people, and people of different generations are encouraged to participate as well.

Seniors Week aims to promote public awareness of the contributions, achievements and ambitions of seniors and to promote positive attitudes in ageing and other people through the involvement of people of all ages and backgrounds. This is achieved through celebratory and informative activities for older people and their families and friends to share and enjoy. Seniors Week is also a great way to challenge the stereotypical view of the older members of the community and presents an opportunity for everyone to think about and improve relationships with senior citizens. As was so well expressed by George Curtis, “Age … is a matter of feeling and not of years.”

The occasion of Seniors Week also raises another issue of importance within the senior community nationwide, that is, eligibility for and employment of the seniors card between the various states and territories in relation to receiving, amongst other things, concessional public transport when travelling interstate. This is an issue that has been raised with my office most recently and I know that it is an issue that has been bouncing for some time among the commonwealth, state and territory governments. It seems that the seniors card, which is available to Australians aged 60 and over who are not working full time, is an important benefit that we can extend to our communities and the time is overdue for the various governments to come together and work out a way of mutually recognising that card.

It has been the subject of inquiry and discussion for far too long. I have been told by members of the seniors community in Canberra that the ACT has had a better approach to this debate, but is being blocked particularly by the New South Wales and Queensland governments, which seem reluctant to extend this concession, which would be of great benefit to many of the retired people in the ACT as they seek to travel interstate.

I recall that the Australian government made some funds available to assist in this regard but, clearly, uniformity and mutual recognition are essential. Too often, Treasury officials look at these concessions purely from the viewpoint of the value of the concession being obtained and fail to appreciate that not only is it assisting with quality

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .