Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:49): My question is today for Minister Donnellan, the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers. My constituents have made me aware of a new campaign called EveryAGE Counts run by councils in my electorate to tackle ageism across the region. Ageism is discrimination and mistreatment based solely on a person’s age. Often we see this occur when someone is considered too old for a job or promotion. This can damage people’s self-confidence, prospects and health. In my electorate we have an ageing community. It is vital that we challenge the stereotypes of what it means to be older. Through my engagement with the homelessness inquiry I have learned just how consequential ageism can be. Older women aged 55 and over are the fastest growing cohort of homeless Victorians; I have no doubt that ageism plays a role in this. Therefore my question is: what is the government doing to educate the public on age discrimination and break down barriers facing our ageing population?
Ageism is discrimination and mistreatment based solely on a person’s age. Often, we see this occur when someone is considered ‘too old’ for a job or promotion.
Response received 26 May 2021 – Hon Luke Donnellan MP
The Andrews Labor Government is dedicated to keeping older people and communities connected. A demonstration of our commitment to older Victorians was the establishment of the Community Activation and Social Isolation (CASI) initiative, with an investment of $11.8 million to June 2021.
CASI is made up of a hotline provided by the Australian Red Cross and local community connectors, was launched in response to Covid-19 to support good mental health and wellbeing The CASI initiative works to mobilise local community groups and platforms (including Neighbourhood Houses) to help people who might be feeling lonely or who have seen their regular activities or social support networks disrupted during the pandemic.
Over the months the initiative has been running, we have seen CASI help build and strengthen partnerships with a wide range of groups and organisations -bringing them together to support people experiencing isolation or loneliness, and keep older people in particular connected with their friends, family and community activities.
I have asked my Department to reach out to the City of Whitehorse to ensure that Kerrimuir Neighbourhood House is part CASl’s referral knowledge base to ensure they are linked with one another and can partner together to continue to support their local community.
The final report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System (Royal Commission) also recognised the importance of connecting older Victorians with their local communities and the benefits this can have on their mental health and wellbeing. To support greater connection the Royal Commission recommended that, by the end of 2022, the Victorian Government establish one social prescribing trial per region in Local Mental Health and Wellbeing Services to support healthcare professionals to refer people, particularly older Victorians, living with mental illness into community initiatives. The Premier of Victoria publicly said the Victorian Government accepts all recommendations from the Royal Commission and the Government is now considering the best way to implement the recommendations.
As you will appreciate, everyone has a role to play in com batting loneliness and social isolation and I thank you for raising this with me.