After five months in cabinet, Seniors and Ageing Minister Mick Murray spoke to Have a Go News about issues affecting senior West Australians. He would like to share the following comments with readers.
I want WA’s seniors to see me as their advocate.
As the local member for Collie, I have always prided myself on sticking up for my community.
I want seniors to see me the same way the electors back in my home patch see me – as someone who will fight for them.
That’s one of the reasons I have begun undertaking a schedule of community meetings with seniors from across the State – including regional WA – to hear about the matters that are important to them.
It is vitally important that I get to hear firsthand about seniors’ concerns and I’m looking forward to getting out and about to meet them.
The first round of these community forums took place at the end of August in Melville and Currambine – north and south of the river – to give seniors the opportunity to raise important issues with me.
I believe older Western Australians deserve every opportunity to feel connected and included in WA’s communities – and the forums will give all an opportunity to speak their minds on how we as a government can do better.
Quality of life is an extremely important consideration for me. The days where life is seen to be coming to an end at 60 or 70 are long gone.
Today’s seniors want the option to travel, to take part in new activities, to volunteer, to work – everything that people of younger age groups enjoy.
As I often say, there should be more for older people than walking to the letterbox and tending the veggie garden each day.
Seniors need to be treated with respect, know that they are valued and if they need help they can ask for it.
We need to treat all seniors as if they were our own grandparents.
Western societies do at times lack respect for their elders.
I think we could learn from other cultures that do a lot better at giving older people the dignity they deserve.
We need to do better at communicating to younger people that seniors have life experience to share.
They represent our history and we owe our current lifestyle to them.
Seniors bring enormous talent, value and knowledge to our communities – as workers, volunteers, carers and mentors to name just a few.
We couldn’t get along without them, and they deserve a fair go.
However, WA’s employers should also be aware that older people bring with them a tremendously valuable knowledge base, which can make them terrific employees.
The State Government has been recognised for its work in combatting ageism, and enabling older adults to feel valued and respected.
It has recently been awarded affiliate membership of the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
This is a significant recognition of our State as an age-friendly leader, supporting and enabling older people to age actively, and continue to participate fully in society.
The McGowan government will build on this status, encouraging businesses and services in particular to become more age-friendly.
Age-friendly businesses are welcoming to older people. This could include larger change rooms, chairs to enable seniors to sit down, and larger print on price tags and products.
We all know that the little things add up.
And by making small changes, seniors will know they are welcome and valued.
This approach has achieved significant success, for example, in the City of Melville, and I hope this approach will be adopted across the State.
I also encourage all WA businesses to partner with the WA Seniors Card.
The card remains the most generous of its kind in Australia, with more than 760 businesses and growing offering members a WA Seniors Card discount.
We are continually working to expand the number of discounts available to seniors.
WA Seniors Card members also have access to a range of State Government concessions and rebates, and free or concession travel on Transperth services.
No further changes to the card are planned at this time.
This year, the State Government will progress our election commitment to tackle elder abuse and increase awareness of this important issue.
We will also start work on our new seniors strategic framework.
Ageing with choice is a key concern for me, and one the new framework will address.
I believe it is important that seniors can do the things they value and that are important to them to maintain their health and wellbeing as they age – whether that be volunteering, accessing appropriate housing, transport and health care.