Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Moreton Electorate: Seniors
There are more than 17,000 seniors in my electorate, and we know from current trends and reports like the Intergenerational Report that the number of seniors is going to continue to grow. That is why the Gillard Labor government’s superannuation and health reforms are so vital. These important reforms will ensure that our health system is sustainable into the future and will also ensure that more Australians can fund their own retirement.
I know that many of the over 65s are not entirely comfortable with the term ‘senior’ because they are still active, work hard and make an important contribution to our community through work, clubs, charities and other volunteer work. They tell me that ‘seniors’ are people who are 15 years older than them. Nevertheless, I particularly value the views of our seniors because they have made such an important contribution and have helped shape the vibrant society we enjoy today.
In my electorate I think of people like Aunty Delmae Barton, a world-famous singer, who is helping young people understand local Indigenous peoples’ ongoing spiritual connection to our area. I saw her recently in Rome at the canonisation of Mary MacKillop—St Mary of the Cross. Then there is Keith and Joyce Morton of Sunnybank Hills who keep me informed on issues like the RSPT, taxation, nation building, the jobs plan and many other issues. There is Kay McPadden, who stands up for the environment and advocates for social justice issues like child health and Indigenous health. And then there is Joan McGrath of Moorooka, who is in her 70s but who still contacts me to advocate on behalf of people who are less fortunate than herself.
As I say, the seniors in Moreton are making a valuable contribution. Seniors have seen many changes in our community, most I hope for the better but I am sure sometimes there are changes that make them long for the ‘good old days’. When my mum used to get off the tram at the end of the line in Moorooka soon after World War II, the makeup of the Southside was completely different. Then Australia had reached out to World War II survivors and refugees from Europe. I am sure that back then the changing suburb was also a topic of conversation. Today I hear from some seniors who are concerned about the number of new arrivals from around the world. I assure people that the number of refugee and humanitarian visas issued under the Howard government was around 13,000. It is the same number today under the Gillard Labor government.
Each year since I was elected I have invited Southside seniors to information morning teas. This year they were held at Sherwood, Annerley and Sunnybank Hills. We shared a cuppa and also discussed ideas and issues important to them like falls prevention and safety in the home, pension and other Centrelink issues, support for our veterans and crime. I will continue to host these morning teas because they provide valuable information for seniors. It is also a great way for seniors to have their say about the Gillard government and our priorities for the future.
Next week I will attend the 20th anniversary of the Acacia 50 and Better Program. I should note, Mr Speaker, I will be attending as an honorary guest as, like you, I do not yet qualify for this esteemed group. My great grandfather lived in Watson Road, Acacia Ridge during World War II, so it is no surprise I feel a strong connection with this part of my electorate. For two decades the Acacia 50 and Better Program has supported older people on Brisbane’s Southside with a program that offers a mix of physical, social and intellectual activities. The goal is to help older people make friends, develop interests and continue to contribute to our community. Activities include exercise programs, health talks, craft activities, theatre groups, card games and computer lessons. Judi Donnelly, the coordinator, has done a terrific job in getting people involved in this program and I very much look forward to visiting the team at Acacia Ridge next week.