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Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Page: 13815

Ms KATE ELLIS (AdelaideMinister for Employment Participation and Minister for Early Childhood and Childcare) (09:34): I am really proud to be part of a government which comes up with serious and real policies for the country's challenges today and into the future. Issues around aged care fall into both of those categories. We know that as our country grows older it presents us with great opportunities. But it also means we need to be serious about reforming our aged care system. We need to make sure that people have choices and options and the necessary services in place to support them as they live longer lives.

I know that the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, has made a number of announcements. In fact, a $3.7 billion package of reforms was announced earlier during this term of government. I was really pleased that that reform package was announced following consultations right around Australia. I was lucky enough to be at the very first of those consultations as it took place in the very fine electorate of Adelaide. Right at the beginning of the process, Minister Butler announced that he would be keeping in touch with the local community and making sure that people got to have their say and to hear about the details of what can be very complicated policy.

I was very pleased last week to be able to once again host Minister Butler in the electorate of Adelaide, at Clearview, where we had a community forum to go through aged-care challenges and also the reforms that this government has announced. I was pleased that we had the minister there to talk us through the $3.7 billion package and how it meant getting better and clearer information to people and their family members who were struggling to find out what options are available and how they find places in aged-care facilities. We talked about the huge increase in the number of support packages for those people who choose to stay in their own homes, and I heard firsthand that this was a choice of many people in my community. We also heard about the 30,000 additional aged-care places right across the country and, importantly, had a very frank discussion about something we do not talk about very much—that is, people having a say in how they die.

These are all very real issues. It takes a government that has real policies and is prepared to make real reforms. I would like to thank those community members who have come along to consultations and community forums to talk about this issue and give the government their insights, their experiences and their suggestions. I am very, very proud of the package announced. I would like to put on record my gratitude to Minister Butler for being so accessible to our community, for explaining such detailed policy and reform and for not putting it in the too-hard basket as so many governments have. (Time expired)