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Monday, 11 May 2015
Page: 2743

Aged Care

Senator SMITH (Western Australia) (14:59): Mr President, my question is also to the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Fifield. Can the minister update the Senate on what the government is doing to support innovation and capacity building in Australia's aged-care sector?

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (14:59): I am pleased to advise colleagues that last month, with Minister Morrison, I announced $34 million of grants under the healthy ageing program. The grants have been awarded for 54 projects that will allow aged-care providers to develop, trial and innovate different ways of supporting older people, and particularly different ways of helping older people stay at home for longer, which—Mr President, as you know—is the objective of most people.

This program has a particular focus on regional and rural communities, Senator Canavan will be pleased to know, as well as other projects. They are actually quite exciting. When I was announcing this funding, I was in Sydney at an organisation called HammondCare, who do great work. A project that they submitted an application for, which was successful, is a pilot called Dogs 4 Dementia, where assistance dogs are provided to people living at home with dementia where they have a family carer present. The dementia dogs are able to undertake daily living tasks, which has a few good benefits: it provides greater independence for the person with dementia, and it also provides greater independence, importantly, for the person who is caring for them. It has also been demonstrated that dementia dogs have a significant impact on reducing stress levels and supporting the emotional wellbeing of both the person with dementia and also the person who is the unpaid family carer. So that is just one example of some of the innovative things which are being trialled and piloted through these healthy ageing grants.

Senator SMITH (Western Australia) (15:01): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister provide any examples of how these grants are helping improve access to aged care for Indigenous Australians?

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:01): As part of this investment, there is also $5 million in funding directed to help the aged-care providers who meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. There are nine organisations who will deliver projects that give support to these members of the community. An example includes a significant capital works project for one particular provider which supports Indigenous Australians. In this case, the organisation is receiving $2 million to assist with its staff accommodation. I should point out that this funding is in addition to the $33.7 million provided in 2014-15 under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program. (Time expired)

Senator SMITH (Western Australia) (15:02): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister inform the Senate of any grants aimed at ensuring that Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds can access culturally appropriate care?

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Social Services) (15:03): Ten projects have also been funded aimed at supporting people from CALD backgrounds: $3.9 million for 10 organisations to deliver projects to benefit 600,000 people aged over 65 who were not born in Australia. Often, as people age, they can lose their English language capacities if English is not their first language, so it is important to provide good support. For example, the Alzheimer's Australia South Australian branch is developing a smartphone app to help the provision of CALD services to older people with dementia, and the Multicultural Centre for Women's Health will receive funding to help working carers from CALD backgrounds manage their multiple responsibilities of working, family and care. It is a great program and it is one that I know, from talking to Mr Neumann, that the opposition also strongly supports.

Senator Abetz: Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.