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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3977

Ms PRICE (Durack) (10:13): Over the past couple of months I have been leading a review of aged care reform in the electorate of Durack to contribute to the Abbott government's overall plan to develop a more positive attitude to ageing, to seniors and to people who face extra challenges. I was joined by Senator Dean Smith in co-hosting a series of roundtable discussions to gain on-the-ground feedback from relevant local government bodies and key stakeholders on the necessary forms that are needed to improve regional aged care services. With the vast size of the Durack electorate, it will take a few more months to meet with all the key stakeholders, but we have already gained vital feedback from the Wheatbelt, Mid West and Gascoyne regions.

It is no secret that Australia is faced with an ageing population, with 23 per cent of the population predicted to be 65 by the year 2050. The focus of these roundtables was to listen to the aged care issues faced in these towns—how they could be improved through a collaborative effort between the three tiers of government and private providers, and how we can ensure that any existing plans or concepts are understood and included in our overall strategic review of Durack's aged care sector.

I have already identified key issues in the provision of aged-care service delivery in these regional towns. There is a significant increase in demand for aged-care services in towns which are considered to be aged-care friendly, such as Cunderdin and Kellerberrin in the Wheatbelt. There is also the overwhelming need for an increase in high-end service delivery. It is important to note that the Commonwealth government's Home and Community Care program, HACC, is making a significant contribution to aged-care services. However, high-end care will increasingly become a prevailing concern as Australia's ageing population continues to increase.

Aged care is an issue that is not going to go away. We cannot afford to close our eyes and pretend that we are not faced with an ageing population who will increasingly require effective service delivery, not just in metropolitan areas but also in regional areas. I have already identified many of the aged-care issues in Durack. However, we are very aware that not all regional areas are alike—and, by the way, that was quite a revelation—and that aged-care priorities vary from town to town. I will continue to champion this review of aged care in Durack, with further roundtable meetings to be held in the Mid West, Gascoyne and the Wheatbelt, along with the Kimberley and the Pilbara regions in the coming months. But, as I am sure we all know, this will not be fixed overnight. I will ensure that any long-term plans to increase aged-care services in Durack are considered and implemented strategically.