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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4960


Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (20:01): It is with real pleasure that I rise to speak on the motion before us. I would like to acknowledge and thank the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon. Mark Butler, for his efforts, particularly for attending to the needs of the Corangamite community and participating in a forum as a part of an extensive consultation process.

This reform is absolutely necessary. If you get around, as I do, and visit nursing homes and senior Australians, it is clear that there is need for substantial reform in this sector. The Labor government has very much prided itself in ensuring that all Australians are able to access services, whether it be in the aged-care system or in accessing world-class education.

Many people retire to my part of the nation. We have areas such as the Bellarine Peninsula, the Surf Coast and the Otways, which is a haven for people in their later years in life when they retire. As a consequence, I have one of the older electorates in this nation. I know that many people in the electorate very much want to see a strong aged-care system. When I talk to families, when I engage with my community on these very important matters, they very clearly say to me that they want to live in their homes for as long as possible. They have often raised their families in those homes, they are comfortable in that environment and they want to remain there as long as possible. I think any reform needs to enable people to remain in their home for as long as possible. Of course, there are points at which that is no longer a viable option, and moving into a nursing home often becomes the only choice in the last few years of people's lives. We need to have a sustainable system, a system that is affordable and a system that enables everyone to access care in a nursing home when it gets to that point in their lives. This reform and the efforts put in by Mark Butler, as the minister, should be commended because they very much address those issues.

Further to that, we also want to make sure that we have a very well-trained workforce to provide care and support for older Australians and their families. This is an area where we need to continue to strive as a society to make sure we are remunerating those workers, recognising the difficult task they undertake and the support they provide to their clients and the families of those clients. I would like to congratulate the minister and look forward to seeing this package deployed in my seat and right throughout the nation. I think it is a reform that is long overdue.