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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4993

Mr PERRETT (MoretonGovernment Whip) (19:25): I rise to speak on the motion of put forward by the member for Shortland for aged-care reform for older Australians. The motion asks of the House that it acknowledges that the Gillard government:

… has a positive reform agenda for older Australians and is delivering enormous commitment and investment in aged care and promoting positive aged-care issues by:

(a) increasing the aged pension;

(b) reforming the aged care system; and

(c) helping older Australians stay at work longer;

That is certainly something that I have encountered much feedback on in my electorate of Moreton. I have had a lot of seniors morning teas over the years. I have every four or six months or so and have had positive feedback and difficult questions about the Gillard government's aged-care agenda. In my electorate of Moreton there are over 17,000 constituents over the age of 65 and, of those 17,000, almost 11,500 were on the aged pension as of December 2012.

The Gillard government has implemented historic changes to aged-care reform with the Living Longer, Living Better reforms. The reform involves a comprehensive 10-year plan to reshape aged care, providing $3.7 billion over five years to build a better, fairer and more nationally consistent aged-care system.

Moreton is home to a number of wonderful aged care facilities with great staff and superb community atmosphere. I recently took the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon. Mark Butler, to Cazna Gardens Retirement Community in Sunnybank Hills to show him the new dementia wing. The environment was warm and friendly but I know that the facility staff do a difficult job. Minister Butler was very impressed by the quality of life the staff at Cazna Gardens provide to the people in that facility. Sadly, the number of applicants is getting longer and longer.

Aged care has recently implemented a number of initiatives in aged-care reform and this motion put forward by the member for Shortland is about taking the extra step towards reform for our older generations. As I mentioned earlier, I regularly hold seniors morning teas in my electorate, and I have had presentations from representatives of Centrelink, Medicare, the local police, aged-care service providers and other local community organisations. Every time I meet with the local groups from my electorate I learn from the experience, but particularly from these seniors morning teas. That collected wisdom of our elders is something that has to be experienced to be believed. These discussions with hundreds of older Australian's from my electorate has taught me that we obviously need to do more for older Australians, particularly those in aged care.

The Labor government was responsible for delivering the biggest ever increase to the pension. We have reformed the indexation system so that the pension keeps better pace with the cost of living. We have also introduced a new seniors work bonus, to make sure pensioners can keep more of their pension while working, if that is what they so choose. We have also delivered another pension increase as part of the household assistance package. My understanding is that that is something that would be cut away by those opposite.

The government is also continuing the full implementation of the Living Longer, Living Better aged-care reforms. Under the reforms, older Australians, their families and their carers will get the right sort of care and support, either in their own home if they so choose and are able to do so or in the appropriate aged-care facility. The aged-care system under Labor will be better and fairer and will provide greater choice and control for older Australians. As I know from my mother's experience and my father's experience, having choice and control is most important. It delivers most dignity and is the fairest approach.

The recent budget builds on the government's work to support Australians in retirement, and I would like to particularly mention a few organisations in my electorate. One that has shown great initiative in the aged-care sector is the Evergreen Community located in Sunnybank.

Evergreen Community is a non-profit organisation dedicated to providing aged-care services for the Chinese Australian senior citizens and people with disabilities in the Brisbane area. Tyrone Kam and his team of 25 at Evergreen Community offer a range of learning, social and health services for their members.

Due to the language barrier and cultural differences, most of these elderly people would find it hard to communicate with the outside world if they were left at home. Their children may not be able to attend to their needs due to work commitments or other reasons, resulting in a group of elders who would be living a life of loneliness and helplessness.

The establishment of the Evergreen Community will help the Chinese seniors in Brisbane to settle into society and make Australia their second home. their motto is: with care dedication, we are able to make the lives of the elderly richer and more meaningful—and they certainly do so.