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Australia's ageing population: government looks to options for the 21st century



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Minister for Aged, Family and Health Services Hon. Peter Staples M.P.

M : T A>n) 'pi >'i r - . - " 4 § J& £Î»\ IS Parliament House, Canberra Phone (06) 277 7220 Fax (06) 273 4146

10 November 1992 PS374/92

AUSTRALIA'S AGEING POPULATION: GOVERNMENT LOOKS TO OPTIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

The Federal Government's support for independence and active participation of older people in the community was made clear in a document tabled in Federal Parliament today.

The document is the Government's response to a House of Representatives Standing Committee report on Australia's ageing population and was tabled by the Federal Minister for Aged, Family and Health Services, Peter Staples.

Called "Expectations of Life: Options for the 21st Century", it was prepared by the Standing Committee chaired by Federal Member for Lalor, Barry Jones.

In welcoming the report, Mr Staples said the Government supported measures for a more flexible approach to both paid employment and voluntary work by older people.

Mr Staples said the report outlined the development of what was a relatively new phenomenon - the increased period of people's lives after they had ceased full-time paid work.

"The report addresses many of the contemporary changes in life-style and the use to which people are putting their time after leaving full-time employment," he said.

"It will be a useful document for furthering the debate on approaches to successful ageing."

The report contains 35 recommendations covering a wide range of issues from age discrimination to housing design and public transport provision.

It says there is a need for flexible working arrangements for older people and recognises that retirement at age 65 for men and 60 for women is no longer the norm in Australia.

In an ageing population, everyone able and willing to make a contribution to the work force should have an opportunity to do so.

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MIC AH

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Portfolio of Health, Housing and Community Services

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Mr Staples said that while the Government acknowledged the importance of paid work, it was also addressing the role of older people as volunteers and the need for the value of unpaid work to be calculated on a national basis.

With regard to the changing demographic structure of the population, the Government accepted that there is cause for concern and action.

"The Government recognises the need for forward planning and is already taking action to ensure that the viability of the health and welfare system meet the needs of increasing numbers of older people," he said.

"Much has been achieved by the Government in fostering the independence and well-being of older Australians.

"The reforms in aged care and income security have set the framework for continuing initiatives in areas of employment and retraining opportunities, recreation, health promotion, supportive environments and research. These are initiatives that will promote recognition of the positive roles for older people in Australian society."

Note: Copies of the Government response may be obtained from the Commonwealth Office for the Aged on (06) 289 5534.