Territory Stories

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001

Details:

Title

Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 28 February 2001

Other title

Parliamentary Record 27

Collection

Debates for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001

Date

2001-02-28

Notes

Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Language

English

Subject

Debates

Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication

Darwin

File type

application/pdf

Use

Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

License

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Parent handle

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/278982

Citation address

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/419455

Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 28 February 2001 MINISTERIAL STATEMENT Aged Care in the Northern Territory M r DUNHAM (Senior Territorians): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak about one of the most important issues for this government and Territorians today - our senior citizens and aged care. I am moved to make a statement to this House following recent headlines in local media, which has depicted aged care in the Northern Territory as being in crisis. Let me say from the outset that I can assure all Territorians this is not the case. Before I embark on highlighting some of the misinformation which has been peddled by the antiseniors spokesman, the member for Wanguri, let me outline the profile of aged care in the Territory and some of the issues as they relate to our valued senior Territorians. Firstly, let me say there can be no question that the Northern Territory government recognises the enormous contribution to the community that our senior Territorians make. It is as a fifth-generation Territorian whose family have all been determined to see out their years here - not just as the Minister for Senior Territorians - that I feel ably qualified to speak. I am also a grandfather, who hopes that the generations which follow will also live here as seniors under the compassionate policies of future Territory governments. There can be no doubt that the profile of the Northern Territory is changing. Many people are now deciding to remain in the Territory when they retire. Our population is ageing - a statistic which has even been recognised by the Labor opposition. In fact, it has been used as a barb by the opposition in an effort to make disparaging remarks about this governments pohcies in relation to senior Territorians. Let me dispel the first myth. The reason people are choosing to retire here is because we can now boast facilities equal to any other location across Australia. Many families are increasingly deciding to make the Northern Territory their permanent home, and many older people are making the move to the Territory to be closer to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Mr Speaker, this is great news! This is not something to denigrate. The contributions they bring in terms of knowledge, wisdom, informal childcare, family counselling, and the financial and social support they provide to their offspring is welcome. At the moment, aged people represent a significantly smaller percentage of the Territory population than nationally, but the number of aged people is growing faster in the Northern Territory than in Australia as a whole. This is evident by recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data, which confirmed a rapid rise in the number of ageing Territorians staying in the Northern Territory. For example, the number of people aged 65 and over is predicted to increase by over 300% in the next 30 years. By 2051 it is expected that the number of seniors will increase from a current population of just over 6 000 to 42 000. There can be no doubt that much of the misinformation - particularly in regard to residential aged care - can be brought back to one very simple point: The allocation of residential aged care beds (hostel and nursing home) is primarily a Commonwealth responsibility. However, the Northern Territory government has financially supported a number of aged care facilities in the Northern Territory and will continue to do so. A prime example is the allocation of over $4m to Frontier Services for the rebuilding and expansion of Terrace Gardens (formally Chan Park), demonstrating our commitment to the care of senior Territorians. Works have commenced on this site adjacent to the new Palmerston Health Precinct, and it is anticipated that the new facility will be completed by the end of the year. More importantly, I am pleased to advise that, for the first time since the 1997 aged care reforms, the Commonwealth minister, the Hon Bronwyn Bishop, has allocated capital funding to new nursing home beds in Darwin. This announcement follows continual lobbying by the Northern Territory government for the Commonwealth to recognise Darwin as a remote locality and provide capital funding with new beds. While this in itself is a major breakthrough for the aged care sector in Darwin, I will continue to keep the pressure on the Commonwealth to redress the serious anomaly with regard to capital funding, so that all new beds allocated by the Commonwealth have capital funding attached. While the initial allocation by the Commonwealth is not sufficient to expand the bed numbers to the full potential, I am delighted to inform the House that through discussions between the Northern Territoiy government and Frontier Services, we will now see an additional 16 beds built at the Terrace Gardens site. Terrace Gardens will therefore increase from a 40-bed to 56-bed nursing home. More importantly, the completion of the facility and the opening of the new beds will more than halve the existing waitlist for high-care (nursing home) places in Darwin. Now, this is where we often lose the opposition spokesman - as he confuses the provision of 7504


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