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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13210

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (11:22): I second the motion. I congratulate the member for Ryan for bringing forward in the parliament this important motion on Meals on Wheels. She has identified the fact that there are some problems with the My Aged Care website, and there have also been some problems with transitioning from the provision of Meals on Wheels through HACC and under the new arrangements, which do involve the My Aged Care website. Meals on Wheels is a very valuable organisation. It was established in Britain during the Second World War and it has been operating in Australia since 1952. It delivers 14.8 million meals a year to Australians. In excess of 78,700 volunteers provide their services because they believe in Meals on Wheels—they believe that frail aged and disabled people should have access to good quality meals. Meals on Wheels has played this invaluable role in communities throughout Australia. Not only do they provide nutritious meals; they also provide support and care to the people they deliver the meals too. It is unconscionable that people should have to wait for periods of time before they are deemed to be eligible for Meals on Wheels. The point the member for Ryan made about that was very poignant.

In Shortland electorate we have Charlestown Meals on Wheels, Belmont Meals on Wheels and Swansea Meals on Wheels. On the Central Coast we have meals on wheels delivered by volunteers but they are all cooked at a central point. Charlestown, Belmont and Swansea all cook their own meals. You have volunteers who come in early, they prepare the meals and once the meals are prepared another set of volunteers come in and they deliver the meals. The quality of the meals that people are receiving is of the highest standard. They are the kinds of meals that they have been used to all their lives. They are not something that has been frozen and cooked in some central point—they are quality meals. I have been out with Swansea Meals on Wheels and Charlestown Meals on Wheels, and quite a while ago with Belmont Meals on Wheels, delivering meals to people in their home. Quite often the person delivering the meal is the only person that they have contact with—the volunteers become part of their family. The interaction between those delivering meals on wheels and the person who receives the meal is a very important aspect of Meals on Wheels. I cannot emphasise that enough. On 28 August I went out with Swansea Meals on Wheels. There are a lot of elderly people in the Shortland electorate. We delivered meals in Swansea to The Village, where a number of elderly people live in units. They have valued that contact, and they continue to value it to this day. I know that those volunteers in the Shortland electorate taking the meals to those frail aged and disabled people are out there doing it now and I say thank you to them.

I have been worried in recent times that there has been a push for supermarkets, Woolworths, to become involved in delivering Meals on Wheels. But it is not the same as getting your groceries delivered. You need that personal contact, you need those special volunteers who can go along and interact with those receiving the meals in the way that I just identified. Meals on Wheels needs to be adequately funded and it needs to be well administered. I would like to thank each and every person who goes out there volunteering for Meals on Wheels. It is a way of life for them. We say thank you, I say thank you, and those receiving the meals say thank you also.