Page 2986 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 6 August 2008

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Canberrans are also represented on the Territory and Municipal Services Community Advisory Group, which provides information and advice about the community to assist the government in ensuring community engagement activity is targeted to relevant audiences and participants.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I represented the ACT government at the first meeting of ministers for ageing, which was called by the federal government last month. The issue of social isolation of older people was one of the matters that we discussed and it will be discussed further at the next meeting in November of this year. While we wait to see the outcomes of this work, the ACT government has already recognised the vital role that transport plays in keeping older people socially connected and actively participating in their community. In 2007 the ACT government extended the seniors card concessions to peak periods. This year, as you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, we introduced the gold card, which provides free public transport for people over 75 years.

In July this year, the government announced that the first MAN bus had arrived at ACTION. It is the first of 16 to be added to the fleet, with 100 new efficient and more accessible buses funded in the 2008-2009 budget. Importantly, this bus has major revisions to the wheelchair layout and increased passenger safety and comfort. ACTION’s fleet already includes 99 easy access buses with ramps and wide front entrances to accommodate wheelchairs.

During 2007, the Stanhope government made improvements to the ACT taxi subsidy scheme to improve affordability and enable more people to be able to use this scheme. Through the home and community care program, the government provides funding to regional community services to provide a community transport service using volunteer and special needs drivers. This is to enable older citizens to get to important appointments and community-based social activities. Recently the Chief Minister launched the ACT regional community bus service, administered by the six regional community services and aimed at seniors and others who are at risk of social isolation due to limited transport options.

Mr Deputy Speaker, it is important that older people who continue to choose to drive are assisted to do that safety. The Older Drivers and Retiring from driving handbooks are intended to assist people to maintain their mobility and also assist them to decide when to stop driving. Unfortunately, as people age, the body takes longer to heal if injured, for instance. That is why the Stanhope government provides specific assessment and management for older people, both in the community and in hospital. It has a falls prevention program and a comprehensive transitional therapy program providing restorative and therapeutic support on discharge from hospital.

This government is committed to health, as was demonstrated through a massive commitment, as I mentioned earlier. Many health initiatives are to meet the needs of people as they become older. These initiatives are designed to ensure that older people in our community receive the health care that they need when they need it, enabling them to return to a normal, active life as soon as possible.

The independent living centre provides assessment, information and advice about what equipment and resources people may need to help them rehabilitate from surgery

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