Page 2992 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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I will now move to the subject of respect, which is something Mr Coe should listen to. These days many older people report that they do not feel respected or included within their community.

Mr Coe: Yes, John. I want to be just like you one day.

MR HARGREAVES: My observation is that our society does not always accord due respect to our older citizens.

Madam Assistant Speaker, I might just observe that this issue is a serious issue embraced by the community, and the frivolity being expressed by Mr Coe is not particularly welcomed by that particular community. I would suggest to him that silence might be a good call and might be a respectful call as well.

As I said, our society does not always accord due respect to our older citizens. It is an area that the government is committed to improve through programs and services that embrace the principles of community inclusion and promote social connectedness. Older Canberrans have provided a lifetime of service to family and the community; they continue to be vital to us as family members, carers, friends, neighbours, volunteers, workers and consumers.

For this they are entitled to our respect. They are a critical source of knowledge and wisdom which they are only too happy to share if given the opportunity, through mentoring and volunteering, through community activities or by serving on government and community committees.

As we look at the ACT’s growing population of older people, we see that many people will continue to work for economic reasons, because of the satisfaction that it brings or because of the role it plays in defining their sense of self-identity or self-worth. Others look forward to retirement or semi-retirement as an opportunity to do the things that they have not had time to do during their working years. Whatever they choose to do, some will be less prepared for the challenges of ageing than others. We know that many may be at risk of social isolation due to the loss of work-based social networks, the loss of a partner, reduced mobility or distance from family.

One thing is very clear, however: the path to positive ageing must commence long before the traditional retirement age. This will be a focus of the strategic plan for positive ageing. There is no doubt that the earlier people adopt healthy and active lifestyles, the better prepared they will be for their older years and for ageing well.

Last year, on my appointment as Minister for Ageing, I committed to developing a strategic plan that would reflect a whole-of-government approach to positive ageing. This plan is being led by the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, in partnership with the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing.

Madam Assistant Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of five members of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing: Gayle Sweaney, Pamela Rosenberg, Pamela Graudenz, Chin Wong and Vivienne Sinderberry Also, I

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