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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3466


Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (15:08): My question is to the Minister for Aged Care. Will the minister update the House on how the government is increasing support to older Australians, including over 30,000 people aged 65 years and over who live in my electorate of Robertson? How is the government acting to ensure that older Australians have more choices for a longer life?

Mr WYATT (HasluckMinister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health) (15:08): I'd like to thank the member for Robertson for her ongoing interest in ageing Australians in her electorate and the representation that she makes. In last night's budget, the Treasurer announced a record $5 billion spend of additional money for aged care and senior Australians—a total of 20,000 new high-level care places since last year's budget and 13,500 new residential care places, along with 775 restorative care places for those who have need of them. In addition to that, we've listened to people on the ground who've talked about the need for face-to-face interactions, so we will be putting into place aged-care navigators, who will assist people in hubs across the regions where it is absolutely important. We're looking at simpler forms. We're looking at upgrading My Aged Care, which has created challenges in the past. We're streamlining the assessment for aged-care services so that Australians have a timely assessment that gives them the opportunity to make decisions and choices.

On top of that, we've focused on the mental-health need in aged care. People, particularly men, over the age of 85 have the highest suicide rates. That is extremely concerning. We are putting $82.5 million into mental health in residential aged care—$20 million will be provided to mental health nurses to help older Australians who live alone and who need the level of support and intervention to ensure that they are given an opportunity to make the right choices around the life that they take. Suicide in older Australians is not something that any of us should ignore. There'll be: $32.8 million for palliative care in residential care, which is an important initiative to ensure that quality of life is provided to those living in those facilities; $22.9 million for physical activity tailored to over-65s, in partnership with community sporting groups, to keep them active, agile and looking after their muscular and skeletal frame to reduce the level of falls; $5.3 million for dementia innovation—not research, but innovation—that allows technology and other support mechanisms to be put into place; and, finally, health checks at 45 and 65 years of age, which will allow people to look at their health status and consider what their options are as they continue into that ageing continuum towards 100 and, equally, what economic and financial planning they need to make in terms of both their ageing and their time within residential care. This government is looking after senior Australians, and I acknowledge the work that we've done.

Mr Turnbull: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.