Ministerial Conference on Ageing Communiqué

Australian and New Zealand Ministers responsible for ageing met in Melbourne on 15 December to discuss health and ageing matters affecting older people.

Page last updated: 15 December 2010

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15 December 2010

Australian and New Zealand Ministers responsible for Ageing met in Melbourne today to discuss and action a range of health and ageing issues affecting older Australians. Ministers reaffirmed the importance of co-operation around the interests of ageing Australians, including discussion around the implementation of national aged care reforms under the Australian Government's National Health and Hospital Network initiative. The meeting was chaired by Mr Murray Watt MP, Queensland Parliamentary Secretary for Healthy Living, and attended by the Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler along with members representing State and Territory Governments, the New Zealand Minister of Senior Citizens and the Australian Local Government Association.

At the meeting Minister Butler updated Ministers on the national aged care reforms, acknowledging the important cooperation that State and Territory governments are playing in progressing the new measures. Minister Butler said the reforms are designed to stream line the aged care system while ensuring that consumer choice of services are maintained and strengthened. Minister Butler said over the coming weeks, the Government will continue to consult and take into account the views of stakeholders to inform of the redesign the ‘front end’ for aged care. He said the Productivity Commission has been asked to develop detailed options for redesigning Australia’s aged care system to ensure it can meet the challenges facing it in coming decades which will help the Government assess options for further advancing the long term agenda for reform to aged care.

Among the matters discussed were:

The National Carers Strategy
Ministers reaffirmed their ongoing support for the development and implementation of a National Carers Strategy and the responses from the Inquiry into better support for carers.

Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler and Parliamentary Secretary for Disability and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, emphasised the need for the support of State and Territory counterparts to build on the work of the Inquiry to support Australia’s carers through the development of the National Carer Strategy. Ministers agreed that given the importance of carers across the aged and disability portfolios, the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference and the Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference will be key forums guiding the development of the National Carer Strategy - but that Ministers responsible for Ageing had a crucial role to play. Senator McLucas said a summary report of the national consultations will be released early next year and the Strategy released in early 2011.

Aged Care – Risk Management for Emergency Events
Ministers at the Conference confirmed their support for continued action around planning and response to emergency events to protect residents of aged care facilities as well as aged and other vulnerable people being supported in the community from extreme natural events like bushfires, floods, cyclones and heat waves. Ministers discussed lessons learned from past emergency events including the bushfires in Victoria and the floods that seriously impacted South Australia, Queensland and NSW.

Ministers agreed to write to the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management – Emergency Management to inform them of;

  • Work that had been progressed by the Ministerial Conference on Ageing,
  • Alerting the Ministerial Council to evolving issues being faced in supporting residential and community care providers and recipients in dealing with emergency events, and
  • Suggesting that Commonwealth, State and Territory Ageing officials meet with State and Territory emergency management authorities to continue collaborative work in this area.
Legislative and Policy Discrimination Experienced by Older Australians
Ministers also discussed concerns about age discrimination and the ongoing need for anti-discrimination and social inclusion policies to be acted upon at both Commonwealth and state and territory levels. While Ministers acknowledged that work in this area is being undertaken primarily by Attorneys-General and the establishment of an Age Discrimination Commissioner, Ministers responsible for Ageing reaffirmed their commitment to provide guidance on areas of common concern in relation to age discrimination. Ministers noted that age discrimination continues to be an issue that can limit participation as people age and contribute to social isolation. Ministers agreed that there was further work that could be structured around matters that Ministers for Ageing could pursue in their own right, and those that Ministers could refer to, or collaborate on with Ministers holding the relevant legislative or program responsibilities.

Residential Care and People with Psychogeriatric Disorders
Ministers were given an update by Professor Brian Draper, Chair of the Psychogeriatric Expert Reference Group, on the work of the Group over the last 12 months, and Ministers reconfirmed the importance of care and services to older people with psychogeriatric disorders. The Ministerial Conference endorsed the Framework for Service Planning and Care Delivery presented by Professor Draper noting that it will inform broader service planning in relation to mental health planning and reform and referred the report to the AHMAC Mental Health Standing Committee for this purpose.

Age Friendly Environments and Communities
Initiatives that improve the liveability and accessibility of communities for people as they age was another issue discussed by the Ministerial Conference members today. Ministers were informed about South Australia’s age-friendly communities project, and agreed that initiatives that improve the liveability and accessibility of communities for people as they age are important. Ministers also noted the Australian Government's Healthy Places and Spaces web-based planning guide which examines how the built environment can assist to achieve sustained, positive health outcomes by providing an environment which encourages and promotes active living for all age groups and fosters social capital and sense of community. Ministers noted that the Australian Local Government Association supports such approaches and the meeting agreed to further state and territory led work on age-friendly communities for ongoing national discussion.

Media contact: Kay McNiece, MCA Secretariat, M 0412 132 585

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