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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7123


Mr SYMON (Deakin) (17:55): My question is to the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing in relation to the reforms in the Living Longer Living Better package that I understand provides $3.7 billion over five years for aged care. It is a 10-year program that creates a system which provides older Australians with more choice, control and easier access to a full range of services where they want it and when they need it. I certainly welcome the fact the reforms give priority to providing more support and care in the home, and that is particularly relevant for my electorate of Deakin which has a very high proportion of older residents. A quick look at the roll as to how many are over the age of 65 shows there are over 22,000. Of course that does not count those who are not on the roll, but it is a very high percentage to have in an electorate. It certainly shows because when I get around the electorate and talk to people I see that we do have a high percentage of older people. Many of these people will either be receiving care and support or thinking about how they will manage it in the future. Deakin in particular has many suburbs in it where a lot of people moved into the electorate, sometimes 50 or 60 years ago, and have lived their whole adult life in the same house and actually never left. It is pretty renowned for that, especially parts of Ringwood East, and even parts of Blackburn.

Increasing funding for home and community care, I am sure, will go a long way to helping match the huge demand that exists for these services. My area—and I know many other areas—are only going to grow in the future, so I welcome the recent round of home and community care funding which was announced on 8 June to expand the number of local places available. This provides older people living in the community with better access to a range of domestic assistance, personal care, social support and respite, and provides help for them to maybe not have to move so soon into residential care. I understand across Victoria that HACC services were boosted by an additional $21.9 million with the latest round of funding. From that, organisations in the electorate of Deakin have received $632,000 in additional funding for HACC services under this round. I know that these funds are going to be used to help keep people in their homes for longer.

I also understand this funding is on top of funding currently in the area and included funds for a number of capital grants. Whilst there are many programs that provide a range of support services in the home, at the moment these programs are often fragmented and inconsistent, leaving older people and their families confused and not always being treated fairly as their needs change. For some time now there has been a demand for more community care options in my electorate. As I have said, it is a demand that cannot be totally satisfied by the new and welcome investments and increased HACC funding.

Minister, I understand that as part of the Living Longer Living Better aged-care reform, $75.3 million has been invested to establish a new Commonwealth home support program which will bring together existing basic home support services. I also understand that a further $880 million has been provided to increase the number of home care packages across the country by nearly $40,000 to around $100,000. The Living Longer Living Better package would seem to provide an opportunity to many of my senior constituents who wish to live for longer in their own homes. As I said, I have a great number across the electorate, and it is quite similar for that part of Melbourne as well. So obviously that demographic does not stop at the boundaries of the electorate of Deakin. Can the minister please outline the timetable for the improvements contained in this much needed reform?