Page 1382 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 April 2013

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In the way she lives her own life, Mary is a great example for ageing well in our city. As an older Canberran, Mrs Pearson makes good use of her ACTION gold card to stay fit by travelling to a regular jazzercise class in the city senior citizens club.

Mrs Pearson’s story reflects the importance Canberra’s social and transport plans place on high quality pedestrian infrastructure. Mrs Pearson speaks highly of the lateral approach that has improved pedestrian access and city footpaths by moving cyclists onto the new separate cycle network.

Mrs Pearson also stays fit by doing her own gardening. Since she does not have a car, she makes good use of the home help service, which sees people undertaking community service remove green waste from eligible properties. This service allows Mrs Pearson to keep up her hobby by stepping in to do only the things she cannot do herself.

Mary is not only a physically active person; she exemplifies the active citizenry that lies at the heart of the ACT social plan. When Mary contacted my office wanting a solution to her problems that would benefit all other people who use the services, she needed a little assistance to access. She has a vision for a stronger, more active community that she pursues through participating in feedback, both to the government and to the community sector, through bodies like BCS and the Council on the Ageing.

I am proud to be part of a government that can provide the small pieces of support which are having a big impact on the lives of older Canberrans and I have enjoyed getting to know Mary and hearing about someone looking for positive ways to keep active as they get older.

Youth homelessness

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (4.30): Like Mr Wall, I would like to acknowledge tomorrow’s Youth Homelessness Matters Day. For those who are not aware, it is a nationally recognised event that seeks to raise public awareness about youth homelessness and the factors that cause it.

Most people have an image of homelessness as being about older people sleeping rough on the streets, but for many young Canberrans that is not the whole story. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that there were 1,785 homeless persons in the ACT on census night in 2011. Of these, 1,105, or 62 per cent, were in supported accommodation for the homeless, 18 per cent were staying temporarily with other households, 16 per cent were living in severely crowded dwellings and just 29 people, or two per cent, were sleeping rough.

Importantly, and disturbingly, approximately 30 per cent of these people were under the age of 25—in other words, young people. I simply cannot imagine what it would be like to be homeless and young in the ACT, and I hope that these figures are turned into real-life stories that will assist us, as a community, to better respond to challenges they are facing.

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