Page 1218 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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encourage and support older people’s regular participation in community activities, encourage and support older people to share their skills and knowledge with others on a regular basis, encourage and support capacity building within the community and support participatory decision-making models within community groups and organisations.

New work for the Office for Ageing this year includes a research project to examine the issue of social isolation for older people in the ACT. There will be a public consultation process as part of this, including a number of focus groups. The Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing also plans to hold a seminar that will feed into this work.

In addressing the health and wellbeing of older people, we must also acknowledge the major role of ACT Health in providing numerous programs and services which assist the frail aged. They provide aged care assessment, residential aged care liaison nurses, multicultural aged care liaison, rapid assessment of the deteriorating aged at risk, a geriatric medicine output clinic, the falls prevention and assessment program, the transitory therapy and care program, the aged care day program at Tuggeranong and Belconnen health centres, the Independent Living Centre, which has organised special drop-in sessions during Seniors Week, and equipment services.

The home and community care program is a joint commonwealth and ACT government initiative which assesses the frail elderly and people with a disability and their carers to remain living in the community and prevent premature or inappropriate admissions to residential aged care. In 2007-08 the Australian government provided close to $12 million and the ACT government $12.5 million, for a total of $24.5 million of funding for HACC services in 2007-08.

ACT Health also provides the older persons mental health service, health promotion and health promotion grants, denture services, community health and respite services. In addition, Sports and Recreation ACT’s active ageing strategy coordinates strategies to increase the participation of older people in physical activity in the ACT.

Mature-age people are targeted for support through the Australian apprenticeships user choice program and the strategic priorities program. Over half of the 23,000 participants funded for training through the strategic priorities program in 2007 were mature age, over 40, with no upper age level. And one of the adult and community education programs funded in 2007 was “out of the shower, on with the show”, an over-50s choir which rehearses weekly and performs at public venues, including retirement villages, schools and festivals. I was able to see a preview of the show at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre last year. It was very entertaining.

Lifelong learning is also supported by ACT libraries which provide older Canberrans with a safe place to meet friends, socialise, read books, newspapers and magazines, as well as taking part in discussion and reading groups. The libraries have material in over 18 languages, primarily for migrants who often prefer to read in their first language, especially as they get older. Other services include the mobile library service and the home library service for the housebound.

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