Hansard ID: HANSARD-1323879322-124006
Hansard session: Fifty-Seventh Parliament, First Session (57-1)
Seniors Connectedness Programs
Ms WENDY LINDSAY (East Hills) (15:13:41):
My question is addressed to the Minister for Multiculturalism, and Minister for Seniors. Will the Minister update the House on how the Government is keeping seniors connected across New South Wales?
I note this is the last question in question time. I have given the House some leeway but I ask members to contain themselves a little.
Mr MARK COURE (OatleyMinister for Multiculturalism, and Minister for Seniors) (15:13:57):
— I think we might need a little more leeway, Mr Speaker. I thank the member for East Hills for her question and for her passion, which I share, for ensuring seniors right across New South Wales live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives. In fact, I saw the member for East Hills and her passion for older people in action last week when we visited the East Hills Men's Shed. I give a shout‑out to the East Hills Men's Shed, who are no doubt watching this at home on the worldwide web. They are a brilliant group of seniors who provide connections and social engagement through craft work. They were making wooden bowls, tables and, of course, cabinets. I was able to talk to them about my family history. My grandfather was a cabinet-maker and my dad is a cabinet-maker. My cousin is a cabinet‑maker. My brother is a cabinet‑maker too. I am a politician.
Mr Rob Stokes:
You made the Cabinet.
Mr MARK COURE:
But I made the Cabinet! As I was saying, we are passionate about improving the lives of older people and ensuring that the Government is considering seniors in every decision it makes. A big part of this is making sure seniors are not left behind in our rapidly changing society. We need to do everything we can to ensure seniors stay connected so that they can keep contributing to our great society as they have been throughout their lives. But what does that look like in practical terms? We know that seniors were one of the demographics most impacted by the pandemic. That is why the Government has invested in over 50 programs run by councils, community groups and not-for-profit organisations across New South Wales through the Reducing Social Isolation for Seniors Grant Program.
Ms Yasmin Catley:
Mr MARK COURE:
I did during budget estimates. The funding helps create social environments where people can come together, meet new people and enjoy themselves. Every one of these 50 programs is helping us achieve exactly that right across the State. In fact, recently I was with the member for Holsworthy in western Sydney at the Liverpool Women's Health Centre, which is holding great regular craft‑based group sessions thanks to this funding. In western Sydney, The Multicultural Network has been holding the Let's Get Talking Seniors program for multicultural seniors, with activities such as trivia, bingo and movies in their own languages.
Penrith City Council is delivering 10 Digital Literacy Mentoring Workshops for Isolated Seniors. These grants are just one of many examples showing how we are helping seniors stay connected. The brilliant NSW Seniors Festival kicked off last Friday and is on until 3 April. This is the largest festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and maybe in the universe. The theme of this year is "Reconnect". Especially after the past two years of the pandemic, it is brilliant to see the NSW Seniors Festival back even better than before, with events taking place right across the State. One of the absolute highlights of the festival is always the Premier's Gala Concerts.
Ms Yasmin Catley:
My mum loves it.
Mr MARK COURE:
Your mum loves it. My father loves it. These free concerts attract up to 32,000 patrons to superstar performances over two action-packed days. We have all heard of the Hollywood A‑list. There is no Will Smith or Chris Rock at the NSW Seniors Festival in Australia, but we have our own A‑list, entertainers like Christine Anu and Shannon Noll. Of course, we have 25 per cent of Human Nature—Phil Burton. We have put in a budget bid for the other 75 per cent of Human Nature, so hopefully we will get them for next year as well. We are also live streaming the concerts to help reconnect—
Ms Prue Car:
Why are you subjecting us to this?
Mr MARK COURE:Extension of time
This is important. This is the NSW Seniors Festival. You don't like the NSW Seniors Festival? 
But it does not end there. The NSW Seniors Festival Expo has over 30 exhibitors ranging from travel, lifestyle health services, entertainment, giveaways and workshops. And do not forget the annual comedy show, which this year includes Jean Kittson and many others. But wait, Mr Speaker, there is more. The New South Wales Government is funding festivals right across the State. There is Shoalhaven City Council's Seniors Festival 2022 event. Queanbeyan‑Palerang Regional Council is running "Finding it in the bush"—is that true? I might just leave that there. I am sure it is a great event.
Opposition members interjected
There are kids watching this. What are members thinking? Wagga Wagga City Council is hosting Rewind 80s Mixtape with some of Wagga's finest performers. Everything from art, sport, music, entertainment, technology plus more is on offer in local communities right across New South Wales. The Government has a strong record when it comes to delivering for seniors in New South Wales. It will keep working to ensure that they stay connected, healthy and happy. As Minister, I will continue to deliver on our vision for a healthy, vibrant, active, ageing population in our State.