Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Calwell Electorate: Aged Care
It is my great pleasure to rise and talk this evening about a new residential aged care facility, whose sod-turning ceremony I recently attended, situated in Valley Park in Westmeadows in my electorate of Calwell. It promises to be a wonderful mix of aged-care and community facilities.
This state of the art aged-care complex is the result of a vision held and promoted by former Labor Premier and former state member for Broadmeadows, John Brumby, for the development and revitalisation of the old Mews housing estate. The Mews Estate, as it was known to our locals, was poorly designed and in a bad state of disrepair. The vision for Valley Park, by contrast, is for an integrated, harmonious community facility.
The $160 million broader development of the Westmeadows site is a partnership between the state government of Victoria, residential developers Frasers, and Baptcare. The project will deliver: a new 90-bed residential aged-care facility; 110 new social housing homes; 34 independent living units for older residents, co-located within the aged-care facility; more than 200 new private homes for sale; new landscaped parks, bike and pedestrian paths; and improved community facilities. I believe the Valley Park Project will set new standards in quality housing, with beautiful wide open spaces and a vibrant, diverse community, with excellent integrated services. Of course, part of the vision from the start was that the community include appropriate housing and support for ageing residents. And this it does.
The best communities are ones that encompass people of all ages, life stages, interests, lifestyles, incomes and cultural backgrounds. We are coming to understand that separating people on the basis of their age or other life differences is artificial and damaging to the health of individuals and communities. In many ways the traditional family values did get it right, making sure that old and young mixed and took care of each other. In that sense, it is great to see Baptcare working with the other Valley Park partners to build this aged-care residence right here in the middle of a vibrant and growing new community in my electorate.
It is often noted these days that, while we were once a young country, our population is predicted to become an ageing one. With these changes, new needs and challenges will arise. We, therefore, have a duty to prepare for the future and ensure that we have the infrastructure ready to provide a positive and stable future for all members of our community. These demographic changes are already particularly being felt in Westmeadows. According to the 2011 census, the percentage of people over the retiring age in Westmeadows was three points above both the Victorian and Australian averages, and 10 points above the Calwell average. On current predictions, this figure is likely to increase in the coming decades, in line with the rest of the country.
Additionally, I note that Westmeadows is one of the most diverse and multicultural suburbs in my electorate. The local community includes a large number of first-generation migrants who are now ageing and require strong government assistance and support to live their lives fully and as independently as possible. It is well known that as we age many people tend to revert back to, and feel more comfortable in, their first languages, and I am reminded of the importance of culturally and linguistically appropriate services. This, too, adds a layer of complexity to dealing with our ageing population. I am absolutely confident that we are addressing these issues with this new facility.
On another positive note, this project creates opportunities for our locals. The construction will provide new jobs, and the increased demand in the aged-care sector will hopefully provide more jobs for a growing service industry. This will require both training and resources from all levels of government and the private sector. We should be quick to encourage compassionate and dedicated individuals to provide the much needed and well-deserved support to our elder Australians. I commend all the partners involved in the project, including of course Baptcare, who have committed to this state-of-the-art facility. I acknowledge the contribution to this facility— as well as to the whole Valley Park project—of the Victorian government, the City of Hume and the developers. This building and the mix of housing that is built around it will set the benchmark for future developments of this area. I certainly look forward to its opening sometime next year.