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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 24 March 2009) . . Page.. 1220 ..

Meaningful activity is vital for our physical and mental health at all stages of our life, including in retirement. Increasingly, people are staying in the paid workforce past what used to be regarded as retirement age. Others may seek out voluntary community work opportunities or pursue other recreational activities.

The last Australian Bureau of Statistics survey on volunteering, in 2006, found that the ACT had the highest rate of volunteering in Australia. The main reason people volunteer is to help others and to gain personal satisfaction. They also stated a desire to help family and to do something worth while.

The ACT government acknowledges that, as in society generally, there is a great diversity amongst older people. For example, there is a wealth of diversity in lifetime experiences, countries of origin and associated cultural customs and beliefs, first language and the extent to which they can communicate in English, their relationship status and the extent to which they have family or friends. Other important areas of diversity to recognise in an ageing population are their health and disability status and their economic circumstances, especially the extent to which they are homeowners and have adequate retirement incomes.

Over the past few years the government has been actively addressing the needs of older people in the ACT and it will continue to promote the interests of older Canberrans. We appreciate the importance of hearing the views of the community on the main issues affecting older people and on what we, as a government, should be focusing on.

Submissions on the strategic plan will continue to be taken until 17 April 2009. Community input will then be collated by the ACT Office of Ageing and used to inform the development of an ACT strategic plan for positive ageing. An interdepartmental committee for positive ageing has been convened to steer this process in partnership with the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing. Agencies represented on this interdepartmental committee are the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, the Chief Minister’s Department, the Department of Treasury, ACT Health, the Department of Territory and Municipal Services, the Department of Justice and Community Safety, ACT Planning and Land Authority and the Canberra Institute of Technology.

The government plans to produce a draft strategic plan for positive ageing later this year for further consultation with key stakeholders. The Stanhope government is working with older people, service providers and other parties to develop comprehensive responses. We recognise that, in order to succeed in this work, we must plan. We must find new solutions to the issues so that we can not only support older people within resources but support them to age more positively, actively and meaningfully. As the years are being added to our life spans, this government is determined to add life to those years.

I would like to finish by expressing my appreciation to the officers in the Office of Ageing in guiding this process—they have done an excellent job—particularly Meredith Whitten, Pam Jenkins and Lindsay Burge. I also would like to express my

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