Mr KERRY HICKEY:
My question is addressed to the Minister for Ageing. How is the New South Wales Government supporting Seniors Week in my electorate?
Mr PAUL LYNCH:
I thank the member for his question and for his support of Seniors Week and of those organisations in his electorate that are arranging events during Seniors Week. The member for Cessnock and I had the opportunity several weeks ago to attend the Barkuma Neighbourhood Centre in Kurri Kurri, which is organising events in Seniors Week. This State has 1.3 million people aged 60 years or over. Our commitment to that group of people is seen through our support for Seniors Week. Almost 700 events will occur during Seniors Week. Last year a quarter of a million people participated in Seniors Week events. A similar number of people are expected to participate in those events again this year.
Within the Cessnock electorate a number of groups have been funded for Seniors Week activities. They include the Beresfield and District Community Care, which is running a seniors eco-family activities week with a number of events and activities, some of which the member for Cessnock will participate in. Cessnock City Council is organising some picnic day activities and Barkuma Neighbourhood Centre is organising cultural connections through walkabout events. For 52 years this State has celebrated Seniors Week. It is a celebration of the contribution of seniors to this community and the extraordinary work they have undertaken over a lengthy period of time.
The theme this year is Live Life, which is about encouragement for active participation in the community by seniors. Often in public debates when we talk about the ageing population and demographic changes, we focus exclusively on the problems and the challenges. Of course, that is part of the issue of ageing, but we are doing a range of things to address that. Often a public debate manages to create ageing as a problem. Somehow we have managed to develop a public debate that getting old is a bad thing. Seniors Week should not be about expressing being older as a problem; rather, it should be that living longer is a good thing.
That is something we should celebrate; that is the sort of thing that should be celebrated during Seniors Week. Seniors Week activities will be officially launched on Sunday with Seniors Awards presentations. Concerts will be held over two days that will cater for at least 30,000 people. These are particularly good and positive activities. I encourage all members to follow the fine example of the member for Cessnock and actively support Seniors Week.