AGED CARE SERVICES
Mr JONATHAN O'DEA
(Davidson) [1.20 p.m.]: For the more than one million older people residing in New South Wales, aged care is critical to maintaining the exceptionally high standard of living that modern Australians enjoy. Facilities, programs and services are designed to ensure continued community interaction and prevent an unnecessary decline in elderly residents. Last Wednesday 15 June was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. I commend both the Minister for Ageing and the Minister for Community Services for launching a DVD to promote and encourage respect for seniors. Recently I spoke about palliative care, an issue that particularly affects elderly residents, and note that a petition on that issue soon will be discussed in this place.
New South Wales and Australia face challenges from an increasing ageing population. In my electorate of Davidson, for the 2006 census more than 22 per cent of the population was over the age of 60, a figure significantly higher than the Sydney average of 16.7 per cent and 10 per cent higher than the 19.7 per cent recorded in the 2001 census. With the 2011 census due later this year I expect that figure will have increased further. In early 2011 the Commonwealth Government's Productivity Commission released a draft report on aged care entitled "Caring for Older Australians" that highlighted the necessity for action on that issue. The Federal Government plays a crucial role in supporting aged care. However, this issue exists for all levels of government and requires action from all levels.
The New South Wales Government is determined to build the strongest client-focused service system for ageing in its first term of office. Focusing on person-centred approaches that empower individuals and their families is the most effective way to manage care of our elderly. The Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils recently tabled a submission on the Productivity Commission report, drawing attention to the increasing role played by councils in performing many important functions that contribute to the wellbeing and lifestyle of older persons. These include the provision of funding to community organisations and programs such as the Ku-ring-gai Council Seniors Festival, the management of Meals on Wheels services, seniors centres, Home and Community Care facilities, neighbourhood centres, the operation of library and community buses, and the House Bound Library Service.
In Davidson the highly successful Community Shed located at St Ives Showground stands as a shining example. Ku-ring-gai Council and the State Government jointly funded $132,000 for the purpose-built facility that provides seniors with facilities for woodwork, metalwork, handicrafts, cooking and free internet access. One key recommendation raised in the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils submission was a greater acknowledgement of the contribution of local government towards aged services, its strong connection with local communities and its expertise in service provision. I commend the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils for raising this issue and highlighting the constructive involvement of local councils with aged care, and specifically note Ku-ring-gai and Warringah councils in the Davidson electorate.
The Davidson electorate has a wide range of residential institutions that contribute similarly to providing services and facilities for seniors. These include Fernbank Retirement Village, Wesley Gardens Georgian Aged Care, Glenaeon Retirement Village, Lady Gowrie Nursing Home, Whitehall Aged Care Facility, Lourdes Retirement Village, Archbold House Hostel, Belrose Country Club and Lindfield Gardens Retirement Village. These institutions perform a commendable service in ensuring that older residents are properly accommodated after years of work helping to forge our community. Equally, it is important to recognise that a significant proportion of elderly people choose to remain in their homes rather than move to institutions—a choice that society should support through various voluntary and community programs, including home-based palliative care.
Yesterday morning the St Ives Uniting Church in the Davidson electorate hosted the Minister for Ageing, Andrew Constance, the Federal member for Bradfield and me as guests at a function for seniors. Minister Andrew Constance spoke well reflecting on the importance of respect for seniors. This excellent occasion also featured an interview with Dr John Frawley of Pymble. Human life should be properly valued through its various stages. Recognising the wisdom, the rich life experiences and the continuing contribution of our senior residents is fundamental to achieving this.