By Yasmin Noone
The Labor, Liberal and Australian Greens party policies on positive ageing will be debated and discussed by three of the most senior political aged care spokespeople, at a National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre (PAC) forum at Parliament House, Canberra, on 19 June.
One of the forum’s panel sessions will see the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, sit alongside the Australian Greens Party spokesperson for ageing, Rachel Siewert, and an Opposition party representative (yet to be confirmed) for a frank chat about what each politician will do to address the challenges presented by an ageing population.
National Seniors Australia’s general manager of policy and research, Peter Matwijiw, said the forum will provide attendees and panelists with a “more mature conversation” about productive ageing.
“And where else can do you get the attention from people to have a mature conversation about what ageing means to a society but in Parliament?” Mr Matwijiw said.
“Once we got Parliament House as the venue, we said, ‘Look. If we are at parliament, we want the ‘decision-makers’ to be involved.
“So we’ve invited each political party to the event to ask them, ‘What do you have to offer in terms of turning ageing into a positive, productive experience?’”
However, Mr Matwijiw said the questions asked of the politicians will not run according to a set format.
“We are not trying to concoct an agenda but instead, open up the debate. We want people, as a result of the forum, to be aware of the issues and better informed about the issues.
“We’ve asked for a broader conversation by politicians specifically to talk about the issues, what can be done and what will be done.
“What will be discussed will be dependant on what gets raised in the forum. So we really don’t know as it all depends on what people will say.”
Presented on behalf of the National Seniors Australia’ research arm with the Parliamentary Friends of Seniors and Ageing, the forum will include a keynote address by broadcaster and public intellectual, Phillip Adams AO, and Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan AO, as well as a roundtable of experts who will discuss current policy and research responses to productive ageing.
The PAC meets Parliament forum will highlight new and innovative research into ageing and showcase the results of recent National Seniors PAC project.
Mr Matwijiw said the survey results to be launched are the product of talking to 3,000 participants about the barriers facing older people in the workplace and community, and follow on from a previous literature review on the same subject and the release of the Ageing and the Barriers to Labour Force Participation in Australia paper by the Economic Potential of Senior Australians panel in December 2011.
“In doing the survey, we actually set out for 2,500 survey participants but got 3,000.
“We’ve done the analysis and the report has to be finalised but we can present results in a preliminary fashion.
Mr Matwijiw encourages people to attend the forum if “they really want to understand what the issues are, what’s on people’s minds and what political parties can offer”.
The 2012 PAC meets Parliament forum will be held at Parliament House, Canberra, from 9.30am to 4pm.
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