|About this Item||Subjects||Aged; Health; Voluntary Workers
||Speakers||Moore Ms Clover
||Business||Private Members Statements
Ms CLOVER MOORE (Bligh) [5.37 p.m.]: I refer to an issue that is of importance to many people in the city_the proportion of people aged over 65, which is expected to more than double over the next few decades. While some have referred to population ageing as a crisis, I believe that older people should not be seen as a drain on the community. As the 1998-2003 New South Wales Healthy Ageing Framework says:
Healthy ageing keeps all older people involved in society and enables their ongoing independence, participation and quality of life.
Community organisations appreciate the contributions older people make, such as the 19 per cent of carers who are aged over 65. The 2005 "Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia" report suggests that the ageing population will increase volunteerism from 1.8 to 2.1 per cent of the gross domestic product. Indeed, an ageing population could inspire a renewed force in community and welfare services. The Healthy Ageing Framework shows that the Government aims to provide healthy ageing initiatives, but there is lack of detail and funds to achieve this end. The recent increase in funds for the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care has not translated to expanded healthy and active ageing programs. Along with others, I called on the Government to improve support for people with disabilities and frail elderly people. However, I am concerned that the Government must also support healthy/active ageing and prevention programs. The promotion of Seniors Week and the Seniors Card is a useful but a minimal commitment to older people.
"Economic Implications for an Ageing Australia" predicts that the ageing population will dramatically increase spending demand for health, disability, and aged care services if current trends continue. However, pressure on health care, disability, and aged care services can be reduced. Research shows that social support, and gentle physical and mental activity greatly increases health and reduces the need for support services. Active engaged older people can also contribute to welfare and community support.
The Older Women's Network New South Wales, known as OWN, provides an exceptional model for healthy ageing programs, emphasising wellness instead of illness and encouraging members to stay healthy, stay connected, keep their dignity, and contribute their experience and wisdom to society. The network has 20 groups in New South Wales, four wellness centres, and approximately 1,500 older women engaging in programs planned and organised by them, including gentle exercise, tai chi, water exercise, "living wills", falls prevention, nutrition, skill care and dementia. A small grant enabled the network to run health workshops on issues of concern like elder abuse, financial problems, depression, grieving, social isolation, housing, and transport. Self-help groups, discussion groups and workshops empower older women to participate in decisions that affect them.
The network has developed creative initiatives, including acappella, play-reading, dancing, and helping create the Sydney Theatre Group, where older women entertain others. The network's newsletter informs members about programs and services that will help members get the help they need, and share strategies for negotiating with service providers. The network advocates on issues affecting older women, giving voice to many people who would not be heard otherwise. Network members carry out research to identify needs and then feed this into planning, providing valuable insight.
The 2006 "Kicking Up Autumn Leaves" report assessed the value of wellness programs under the supervision of the Northern Sydney-Central Coast Area Health Service, with older women the researchers as well as the focus of the research. It recommended that government should fund wellness centres with paid staff, provide space for older women and wellness activities in community venues. It endorsed the community development model pioneered by the network, which emphasises participant-driven activities.
The Hunter Positive Ageing Strategy project identified that employment and training, lifelong learning, the community setting, and information all affect older people's lives. The network has identified domestic violence and elder abuse as significant issues. The network has identified that computer training for older women would help them use this technology to inform themselves and participate in their community. I support the group's request for new services and resources to tackle these concerns. I know a number of constituents who are proud network members and organisers, and I commend their work.
The network receives limited funding from the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and the Department of Health, and achieves a great deal with quite limited resources. It achieves so much because it is grounded in the expertise, experience and wisdom of older women. Many older people live active and independent lives, and they have skills and knowledge that can benefit the whole community. Groups like the network should be across New South Wales in all communities. Their report shows the value of positive ageing programs. I call on the Government to invest in programs for older people that help them remain active, healthy and a valued part of the community.