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Launch of the Australian Government Directory of Services for Older People: address to the National Seniors Association Convention.



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Speech

Ms Julie Bishop MP Minister for Ageing

11 October 2003

National Seniors Association Convention Launch of the Australian Government Directory of Services for Older People

Everald Compton AM, Chairman, National Seniors Association David Deans, Joint Chief Executive, COTA National Seniors Partnership Directors of National Seniors

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Good morning. I thank Everald for his kind introduction, and also for the opportunity to open this convention.

I am so pleased I could be here today and to meet many of the people that I will be working with as part of my new ministerial responsibilities.

It is a great honour for me to have been appointed Minister for Ageing and a very exciting time for all of us.

Population ageing issues are increasingly on the agendas of government, business and the community, and we need to work together to keep them there.

Of course, there are many issues of importance and concern to older Australians and I will be actively seeking your input and views as to how to tackle these concerns.

I am well aware of the value my predecessor, Kevin Andrews, placed on the contributions made by National Seniors.

Not only does it make important contributions to policy debates across a wide variety of issues that affect older Australians, but National Seniors has also shown a willingness to engage and work with the

Australian Government on important issues.

For example, the National Seniors has played a very significant role in the issue of mature age employment.

Late last year the then Minister held discussions in Melbourne with some key employer, employee and seniors’ groups, including National Seniors, on issues relating to the workforce participation of older Australians.

The Minister then asked the “Office of an Ageing Australia” to work with National Seniors and the business community to organise a Symposium to raise business awareness of these issues.

Nationals Seniors and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the ‘An Ageless Workforce - Opportunities for Business’ Symposium, which was held in Sydney on 27 August 2003.

The Symposium was a great success and has raised, noticeably, the media profile of this important issue in recent weeks.

Demonstrating the Government’s commitment to these issues, the Prime Minister addressed the Symposium luncheon.

In my new role I intend to capitalise on the momentum with a range of future events that highlight these important matters.

I met David Deans in Canberra this week to discusss ideas - he’s a delight -and I look forward to working with him.

COTA/NSA PARTNERSHIP

This Symposium is just one example of a successful partnership between Government and National Seniors, and I expect this already strong relationship to grow with the merger of National Seniors and the Council of the Ageing.

The merger will provide an even stronger voice, not only for the 270, 000 members of the Partnership, but for all senior Australians.

Now that’s some force to be reckoned with!

In fact, the Partnership’s membership is larger than combined membership of the Liberal, Labor and National Parties!

It will give older Australians a powerful voice in the development of policy agendas such as the National Strategy for an Ageing Australia, which was developed to foster a whole of government approach to addressing population ageing issues over time.

The National Strategy does this by identifying both the challenges and the possible responses by Government, business, the community and individuals to meet the needs of Australians as they age.

The National Strategy has five major themes:

● retirement incomes;

● a changing workforce and employment for mature age workers;

● healthy ageing;

● attitudes, lifestyle and community support; and

● world-class care.

In 2002, my predecessor, Kevin Andrews, undertook community consultations across Australia to tap into local knowledge on ageing matters and encourage action on the themes and directions of the National Strategy for an Ageing Australia.

The consultations drew participants from a wide cross section of Australian society, including community groups, local business, the health industry and local government.

This Government has also provided $1 million over four years to help establish the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre within the University of the Sunshine Coast - - I can’t think of a better place for it to be located!

The Centre is a consumer-driven research venture that conducts research into all aspects of Productive Ageing.

So here’s yet another example of a successful partnership between the Australian Government and National Seniors.

The Centre is being funded to:

● conduct research into all aspects of productive ageing, such as mature age employment;

● develop policies and introduce programs to enhance productive ageing;

● create and organise public education programs to promote productive ageing; and

● encourage the study of productive ageing programs as part of degree courses in medicine, health

and social sciences.

The Government has also established the National Advisory Committee on Ageing, which was formed to provide broad advice to the Minister for Ageing and the Government, and to promote an inclusive approach to consideration of ageing issues.

One important area of work for the National Advisory Committee on Ageing is in the area of healthy ageing, and the links between work and good health.

It’s is an area I’m very keen to promote.

Healthy ageing is a positive approach to ageing that aims to maintain and improve the physical, emotional and mental well being of older people.

It is fair to say that since 2000, Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have shared a vision that healthy ageing is about an inclusive society where all older people can lead satisfying and productive

lives that maximise their independence and well being.

The National Strategy for an Ageing Australia clearly articulates the Australian Government support for healthy ageing. Individuals, communities, business and all levels of government have a shared responsibility for achieving positive health outcomes.

In the 2003-04 Budget, the Australian Government committed to a series of interrelated measures that make up the Focus on Prevention package.

The Government believes that this package provides a strong foundation for integrating prevention into the wider health system.

It offers an approach to improving community understanding about Healthy Ageing and about how individuals can take the steps they need to keep themselves healthy.

The maintenance of health and functional capacity is vitally important to an individual's capacity to participate in society and to contribute to Australia's productivity and prosperity.

A focus on healthy ageing promotes a positive attitude throughout life to growing older and helps to break down stereotypes and change people’s attitudes to ageing.

It embraces an outlook on life that recognises that growing older is a natural and positive part of living, whilst understanding the diversity and individuality of older people.

Providing services and readily accessible information about the full range of services available are some of the ways the Australian Government can support the healthy ageing of the Australian population.

I am pleased to announce to this convention that details on these and many other services and programs the Australian Government provides for older people will be more readily accessible thanks to two very important sources of information that I am launching today.

In October last year, the Prime Minister asked Kevin to draw together the programs and services available to older Australians, and to develop ways of making it easier for the community to find out about them.

In response, the Office for an Ageing Australia has worked with all Australian Government departments to compile the ‘Australian Government Directory of Services for Older People’.

The Directory provides a catalogue of information on topics such as your work, your health, your care, your finances and your rights.

It provides a brief description of each program or service available, as well as telephone and website contact details for more information.

Research has shown that older people seek information and assistance from a range of contacts such as general practitioners, aged care facilities, Aged Care Assessment Teams, Commonwealth Carelink Centres and Centrelink offices.

The directory has been targeted to, and will be used by, those that older people might go to seeking information and assistance.

50 000 copies of the new Directory have just been distributed to the many organisations in contact with older Australians.

A further 50 000 will be distributed over the coming months.

I would like to acknowledge the important role that David Deans and National Seniors have played in the production of this directory, especially in providing feedback on how early drafts of the Directory could be improved.

In addition to producing the Directory, the Government has also revamped its website for older Australians, www.seniors.gov.au to incorporate the new Directory content.

This website is a user-focussed, easy access government resource site for all older Australians, including veterans, indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.

The website has been created to provide a simplified approach to assist consumers, professionals and community members search on-line for up-to-date information of interest and importance to older Australians.

It is therefore a great pleasure for me, in one of my first public engagements as Minister for Ageing, to launch both the Directory and the seniors.gov.au website.

But if you like to “test drive the webiste”, two laptops will be available for delegates in the Garden Pavilion.

Just before I officially open the Convention, I want to share something with you.

When the Prime Minister announced ‘I was to be appointed Minister for Ageing, I received lots of calls from friends, along the lines:

“Minister for Ageing?? Can you work out how to stop it? ”; or

“Why not the ‘Minister for anti-Ageing”

One dear friend, Val, sent me ‘The Ten Commandment of Staying Young’.

She said it was for me and for me to share with my new constituency.

So in the spirit of this Convention, I’ll read it to you:

HOW TO STAY YOUNG

1. Throw out non-essential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let your doctor worry about

them - that’s why you pay him.

2. Keep only CHEERFUL friends. The grouches just pull you down.

3. Keep Learning! Learn more about computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle!

4. Enjoy the simple things. Laugh often, long and loud.

5. Let the tears happen. Endure, grieve and move on. The only person who is with you your whole life is yourself. Be alive while you are alive.

6. Surround yourself with what you love - whether its family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever.

7. Cherish your health! If it is good, preserve it!; If it is unstable, improve it! If it is beyond what you can improve, get help!

8. Tell people you love! - that you love them at every opportunity.

9. Don’t ever hold a grudge - believe, accept, forgive. You too may have trespassed unintentionally and unknowingly sometimes. People can always change.

10. And finally - always remember: Life is not measured by the breaths wi take - but by the moments that take our breath away! Whatever age, be forever young!

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to declare this Convention open. Thank you.

ENDS