GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO DO MORE FOR OUR ELDERLY

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:03): In recent weeks the government has made a call for Australians to work longer and is encouraging people to stay in the workforce until they are in their 60s and perhaps their 70s. I want to point out to the government that the most significant problem for that is that many constituents—generally women, but also men—at that point in life are looking after elderly relatives. I want to raise today that issue in the context of the government's announcement today in the aged-care sector. I'm sure members across this place have almost daily contact from constituents who are waiting for home care packages.

An honourable member interjecting –

Ms BIRD:  Yes, 10,000. I ask the member: what's the waiting list? How many are on the waiting list?

These people who ring are often the children or a close family member of the elderly person. I have had people in tears. I have had women who have had to give up work because they cannot both work and look after elderly family members.

The government has to do a lot more in their home care package space. I would certainly say to them that today's announcement is far from sufficient to address the problems that face the elderly in our community. I can only imagine that members opposite, as well as those on this side, all have constituents who will be putting out exactly the same call, 'Do more and do it now for those people in our community.'

Watch Sharon’s speech here.