Illawarra seniors to meet Minister for Ageing

The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler and Illawarra Labor MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones will today meet with over 200 local seniors in Wollongong as part of a national conversation on healthy and positive ageing.

The views of local seniors will help inform the Gillard Labor Government’s response to the Productivity Commission Final Report, Caring for Older Australians.

“Australians are living longer, healthier and more prosperous lives than at any other time in history. They have greater opportunities to age well, lead vibrant lives and participate productively in society,” Mr Butler said.

“To capture the opportunities presented by an ageing population, we need to provide support and encouragement to older Australians to continue contributing to our community - whether in work, in retirement or in caring roles.

“Providing access to quality care and support will give older Australians the confidence to age with dignity and security.

“We also want to see a system that is financially sustainable, and is fair for those being cared for as well as for the rest of society, and a system that meets the highest standards of quality.”

Ms Bird said, “Our senior citizens play such an important role in the wider community and it’s critical that we support their ongoing engagement and involvement – whether that’s in work, in retirement, through volunteering or in caring roles.

“I am pleased Minister Butler will hear directly about the issues that are important to older Australians in Wollongong, particularly the special differences facing people living in regional areas.”

Mr Jones said, “The clear message I’m hearing when I’m out and about in our community is that people want to stay involved and active in their later years.

“Almost 30 per cent of the population in the Illawarra Local Government Area is older than 55 years of age so this is a really important conversation for our region.

The Government will develop its response to the Commission’s recommendations guided by four overarching principles:

• First, every older Australian has earned the right to be able to access quality care and support that is appropriate to their needs, when they need it. • Secondly, older Australians deserve greater choice and control over their care arrangements than the system currently provides. • Thirdly, funding arrangements for aged care need to be sustainable and fair, both for older Australians and for the broader community. • And finally, older Australians deserve to receive quality care from an appropriately skilled workforce.

Since the release of the Final Report in August, Minister Butler has met with over 4,000 Australians, their families and carers at forums in all capital cities and major regional centres – giving the community the opportunity to contribute their views about care and support for Australians as they age.

Media opportunity:

2pm, Tuesday 24 January

Illawarra Conversation on Ageing Illawarra Performing Arts Centre

32 Burelli Street, Wollongong NSW