Opportunities for Participation of Victorian Seniors (14.08.2012)

Written on the 14 August 2012

It gives me great pleasure to rise to speak on the Family and Community Development Committee report entitled Inquiry into Opportunities for Participation of Victorian Seniors. Ageing of the population is a trend that is occurring across the globe and is a significant policy area being considered by all areas of government, not only in this country but in many international jurisdictions. The issue can be complex and difficult for government, and it encompasses many portfolio areas, including health, finance, transport, community services, planning and housing, to name just a few.

 



In Victoria it is well recognised that we live in a diverse and multicultural society, and our communities reflect the many beneficial elements of that diversity. There is also great diversity in age, and across all our communities there are many examples of people who, in their later years, continue to make significant contributions to our communities. In many instances recognition of those citizens is duly awarded.

 


However, for many there are barriers such as isolation and a feeling of disconnectedness leading to non or reduced participation. Ongoing participation as we age has a range of benefits. The inquiry identified participation as benefiting not only the individual but also the community and the broader economy. In conducting the inquiry the committee heard from a

 


range of people and organisations, many of whom have extensive knowledge in the area or who themselves continue to participate in a positive manner and are a tremendous example of the many benefits participation brings.

 


Through the course of the inquiry the committee received 93 submissions, conducted public hearings in Melbourne and in regional Victoria, in both Bendigo and Geelong, and heard from 52 organisations -- --

 


Honourable members interjecting.

 


The PRESIDENT -- Order! There is too much background noise and too many conversations throughout the chamber. This is an important contribution on a significant report conducted by one of our committees, so members should whisper or preferably leave the chamber to pursue their conversations.

 


Ms CROZIER -- It is an important issue, and many of us within the chamber are entering those years on which this inquiry is focused. As I was saying, I thank all those witnesses who attended the public hearings and came forward to give evidence to the inquiry.
 

 

In addition, the terms of reference asked the committee to incorporate in its recommendations the best international practice and support of ageing well. In doing so the committee travelled to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in May this year and met with representatives from 23 organisations and government departments. Much of the discussion surrounded strategies and initiatives that enabled older people to be more involved in the decision-making process and to take an active part in doing so.

 


In the Netherlands the committee visited 'apartments for life', a concept that was widely referred to by a number of witnesses during the Victorian-based hearings. The committee was able to see firsthand how people can age in their homes despite the level of care required for them to be able to do so. I am aware that this model of care is being looked at by a number of Australian-based organisations at present, and I understand it may be adapted into future aged-care facilities in this country.

 


In hearing evidence both here in Victoria and during the committee's international study tour, one of the main themes to emerge was that a healthier older person will have a greater ability to participate. At the same time the committee heard that with an ageing population the incidence of chronic illness and disability is set to increase, which brings ongoing adverse social, economic and health impacts to our society.
 

 

The committee also identified that our perceptions and how we view the older person need to change and that as a society we need to do more to encourage a greater acceptance and understanding of people in their later years. Senior Victorians have many different experiences that can continue to apply and benefit both the workforce and individuals' broader communities.
 

 

The report outlines and makes recommendations about how older people may continue to participate socially, economically and within their communities, and it also appreciates that it is the individual's right to choose the extent to which they do so. The report recommends that these aspects be taken into consideration to achieve an age-friendly Victorian society and that a statewide, whole-of-government strategy for older people be adopted. The committee hopes the government will favourably review the report's many recommendations to enable the ongoing participation of senior Victorians and to achieve an age-friendly community.

 


In conclusion I would like to thank the members of the committee: my upper house colleague Andrea Coote, along with those from the lower house, including deputy chair, Frank McGuire, the member for Broadmeadows, Donna Bauer, the member for Carrum, Bronwyn Halfpenny, the member for Thomastown, and Nick Wakeling, the member for Ferntree Gully. I would also like to thank the members of the secretariat for the work undertaken throughout the course of the inquiry and for their ongoing cooperation and assistance in putting this report together.It gives me great pleasure to rise to speak on the Family and Community Development Committee report entitled Inquiry into Opportunities for Participation of Victorian Seniors. Ageing of the population is a trend that is occurring across the globe and is a significant policy area being considered by all areas of government, not only in this country but in many international jurisdictions. The issue can be complex and difficult for government, and it encompasses many portfolio areas, including health, finance, transport, community services, planning and housing, to name just a few.
 

 

In Victoria it is well recognised that we live in a diverse and multicultural society, and our communities reflect the many beneficial elements of that diversity. There is also great diversity in age, and across all our communities there are many examples of people who, in their later years, continue to make significant contributions to our communities. In many instances recognition of those citizens is duly awarded.
 

 

However, for many there are barriers such as isolation and a feeling of disconnectedness leading to non or reduced participation. Ongoing participation as we age has a range of benefits. The inquiry identified participation as benefiting not only the individual but also the community and the broader economy. In conducting the inquiry the committee heard from a
 

 

range of people and organisations, many of whom have extensive knowledge in the area or who themselves continue to participate in a positive manner and are a tremendous example of the many benefits participation brings.
 

 

Through the course of the inquiry the committee received 93 submissions, conducted public hearings in Melbourne and in regional Victoria, in both Bendigo and Geelong, and heard from 52 organisations -- --
 

 

Honourable members interjecting.
 

 

The PRESIDENT -- Order! There is too much background noise and too many conversations throughout the chamber. This is an important contribution on a significant report conducted by one of our committees, so members should whisper or preferably leave the chamber to pursue their conversations.
 

 

Ms CROZIER -- It is an important issue, and many of us within the chamber are entering those years on which this inquiry is focused. As I was saying, I thank all those witnesses who attended the public hearings and came forward to give evidence to the inquiry.
 

 

In addition, the terms of reference asked the committee to incorporate in its recommendations the best international practice and support of ageing well. In doing so the committee travelled to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in May this year and met with representatives from 23 organisations and government departments. Much of the discussion surrounded strategies and initiatives that enabled older people to be more involved in the decision-making process and to take an active part in doing so.
 

 

In the Netherlands the committee visited 'apartments for life', a concept that was widely referred to by a number of witnesses during the Victorian-based hearings. The committee was able to see firsthand how people can age in their homes despite the level of care required for them to be able to do so. I am aware that this model of care is being looked at by a number of Australian-based organisations at present, and I understand it may be adapted into future aged-care facilities in this country.
 

 

In hearing evidence both here in Victoria and during the committee's international study tour, one of the main themes to emerge was that a healthier older person will have a greater ability to participate. At the same time the committee heard that with an ageing population the incidence of chronic illness and disability is set to increase, which brings ongoing adverse social, economic and health impacts to our society.
 

 

The committee also identified that our perceptions and how we view the older person need to change and that as a society we need to do more to encourage a greater acceptance and understanding of people in their later years. Senior Victorians have many different experiences that can continue to apply and benefit both the workforce and individuals' broader communities.
 

 

The report outlines and makes recommendations about how older people may continue to participate socially, economically and within their communities, and it also appreciates that it is the individual's right to choose the extent to which they do so. The report recommends that these aspects be taken into consideration to achieve an age-friendly Victorian society and that a statewide, whole-of-government strategy for older people be adopted. The committee hopes the government will favourably review the report's many recommendations to enable the ongoing participation of senior Victorians and to achieve an age-friendly community.
 

 

In conclusion I would like to thank the members of the committee: my upper house colleague Andrea Coote, along with those from the lower house, including deputy chair, Frank McGuire, the member for Broadmeadows, Donna Bauer, the member for Carrum, Bronwyn Halfpenny, the member for Thomastown, and Nick Wakeling, the member for Ferntree Gully. I would also like to thank the members of the secretariat for the work undertaken throughout the course of the inquiry and for their ongoing cooperation and assistance in putting this report together.


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