Youngcare

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Today, I wish to make my MOI speech on Youngcare, an organisation based in Queensland, which is dedicated to helping the 6,500 young people with disabilities in Australia who currently reside in aged-care homes due to a lack of more appropriate accommodation. Youngcare believes, as I am sure we all do, that every young person deserves a young life, and aims to make this possible through raising awareness, fundraising, lobbying for political change, undertaking research and providing accommodation. Youngcare shares many of the same values as d4d in believing:

  1. That young people with high care needs have the right to choice;
  2. That aged care, as the only choice, is not appropriate;
  3. That there should be more housing choice for people with high care needs;
  4. That there should be relevant and appropriate care models;
  5. That the federal and state governments must address the issue through policy changes;
  6. That there is need for investigation of a national disability insurance scheme (NDIS);
  7. That young Australians with 24/7 care needs should have access to relevant information.

According to Youngcare’s website (www.youngcare.com.au) of the 6,500 young people currently living in aged care facilities 44 per cent will receive a visit from friends less than once a year, 34 per cent will almost never participate in community-based activities such as shopping, and 21 per cent will go outside the home less than once a month. This is something I would not wish on the elderly members of our community, let alone young people who thrive on social interaction for their entertainment, fulfilment and growth as citizens.

The organisation also offers in-home grants to help pay for the support that a young person with a disability requires to live in their own home in the manner of their choosing—a blessing many take for granted. There is also Youngcare Connect, a telephone hotline offering friendly support and advice to young people with full-time care needs and their carers.

The initiative and passion that Youngcare shows in its work is commendable. In fact, I really have only one problem with this organisation: there is no South Australian branch to help the 500 or so young people living in nursing homes here in South Australia. I am not about to deliver a homily on why we should have an organisation such as Youngcare here in South Australia, as I believe the figures I have just referenced truly speak for themselves, but I will say that I believe the issue of young people residing in aged care is one of national, if not international, importance.

I acknowledge that I perhaps approach this issue with some bias, as I am a young person with a disability, but I will say this. When I was 10 years old I saw a TV ad which showed a young man of about 25 in a wheelchair talking about his experience of living in a nursing home. I immediately turned to my mother and asked her if that was the fate that awaited me, too. Of course, she told me that that would never happen, but I must say that that moment will forever remain in my memory as the moment that I truly realised my disability could mean that I may not have autonomy over my own life.

No young person should have to reside in an aged care facility, nor should our young people with disabilities have to live with an inherent, potentially paralysing fear that it could happen. For these reasons I commend Youngcare on its work, and encourage members of this chamber, and the public, to support it in whatever way possible to help ensure the right of our youth to a young life.