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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 713

Mr HAYES (8:52 PM) —I commend the member for Shortland for her obvious dedication to improving the lives of our senior citizens as evidenced by this motion. There is no doubt that older Australians provide an invaluable source of wisdom and contribution in various ways to our community. Unfortunately, this contribution is not always appropriately recognised and encouraged. I believe, however, that the current government is on the right track towards recognising and improving the status of elderly Australians. The current work bonus giving incentives to senior Australians to encourage them to continue to participate in the workforce is particularly significant given the current dynamics of Australia’s ageing community. The initiative recognises that older people have a lot to offer, and it is important that we recognise that their contribution not only to the workforce but to the community in general is highly valued.

Federal Labor recently delivered what can only be considered the biggest reform to the age pension in more than 100 years. The reform, which increased the pension by $100 a fortnight to single pensioners, has truly made a difference in managing everyday living costs for those individuals. The recently introduced initiative to provide better aged-care facilities for elderly Australians of non-English-speaking backgrounds is a great step towards improving the quality of life for this unique group of Australians. Equipping aged-care service providers to deliver appropriate aged care to older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds is extremely significant in my electorate, which, as you are aware, Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, is the most culturally diverse electorate in Australia.

I have the distinct honour of having a very close relationships with a number of senior associations in my electorate, most of which cater to the members of different cultural groups. I wish to name a couple. Firstly, the New South Wales Vietnamese Elderly Friendship Association has over 2,000 members in south-west Sydney. It is one of the most prominent associations of its kind and a true role model for other organisations seeking to cater to the elderly from unique cultures. I have visited the organisation on a number of occasions and I was truly touched by the spirit of friendship and the general zest for life of its members.

The organisation, under the president, Mr Mieng Van Nguyen, a committed and highly motivated leader, provides members with various sources of entertainment but, more importantly, social interaction as well as education. The association is currently undertaking the ambitious task of setting up a library room to provide facilities for learning English as well as helping the seniors to develop their computer and internet skills so they can fully participate not only in the local community but also in Vietnam.

The Indo-Chinese Elderly Hostel with President Mr Harry Tang is another culturally specific aged-care facility in my electorate. Its members, as well as the management, were extremely grateful to receive recognition from the Commonwealth by being awarded 32 new aged-care beds as part of the government’s current round of aged-care approvals. The association’s role in ensuring that senior citizens in the broader Chinese community have access to quality aged care is highly commendable.

Another organisation I will quickly mention is the Cardinal Stepinac Village, an aged-care facility with a difference for elderly migrants from Croatia. I was particularly touched by the initiative of the CEO, Matt Smolcic, and the president of the board, Mr Milan Bogovich, to hold a fundraising evening to raise money for the Queensland floods. To take from one’s own pension and give to fellow Australians is a quality that younger generations can be truly inspired by. What really struck me from my visit to Cardinal Stepinac Village were the awards that they gave to staff, particularly volunteers. Oddly enough, as the member for Fisher just indicated, most of the volunteers are elderly people. A number were actually residents of the village as well as young people. The wisdom, the knowledge of life that is acquired with age is something our community should value. (Time expired).