Speech by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Speech at the opening of St John’s Village

Location: Wangaratta, Victoria

E & OE

Well thank you very much Bishop John, and if I could acknowledge you, not only as the Bishop of Wangaratta, but also as Chair of this magnificent organisation.

To John Ilott, the Chief Executive, thank you for your hospitality today.

Cathy McGowan, local Member, good to be with you.

And also, wonderful to be with one of my oldest friends, Sophie Mirabella, the former Member for the area.

But can I also, through Sue Gilham, pay particular acknowledgement to the staff who are here today. For you, I know that what you do is far more than a job. When you get up each day, and head into work at St John’s Village, you know that you are making a contribution to improving someone’s quality of life. And I think it’s a very great privilege to work in aged care, whether you do so as Minister for Aged Care, or whether you’re someone who works in an aged care facility. I think it’s a privilege, particularly for the staff, because the people who you support put their trust in you, and they often do so at a vulnerable time in their life. And I think for someone to have that confidence to open up and to put themselves, to some extent, in your hands, is a great honour. And it’s worth, on an occasion like this, pausing for a moment to remember that.

Most particularly, can I acknowledge the residents who are here today. I am always acutely aware, when I am in an aged care facility, that I am in someone’s home. So, to you, thank you very much for letting me, and a few other friends, here today.

Friends I think today, above and beyond anything else, really is a celebration. It’s a celebration of St John’s Village organisation, it’s a celebration of a community that sees need, that recognises need and just gets on with the job of meeting that need without much fuss. So I think today, above and beyond anything, really is a celebration.

I was also very keen to be here today because I wanted to show my support for mission-based organisations, faith-based organisations. Because there’s a certain character and a certain quality that is infused through this organisation. That manifests itself in the quality of care that is given to residents here. There’s a very important place for mission-based organisations in our community. And I think what St John’s Village does so, so well, is that it provides a continuum of care, a continuum of support. We have, in the same area, a retirement village component, we also have the aged care facility, so people have the opportunity, as their needs increase, of living in the same area, of living in the same community without having to move.

As Bishop John said, that’s very much the approach that’s taken now to aged care is ageing in place. For those for whom it’s possible to receive support in their home, that’s a good thing. People understandably want to stay at home for as long as they can. For those who need a little more support, then there are fabulous facilities such as this. So as the Minister for Ageing, I want to see more of what we see before us today.

And could I also acknowledge the architect. Design is just so important when it comes to aged care. You cannot pay too much attention to the design, and to the quality of the fit out. So, to everyone who has been involved with this magnificent project; congratulations. It’s a day to pause for a moment, to reflect on the hard work that’s been done. But also, to reflect on what a contribution you have made, and will be making, through this facility, through this organisation, to the quality of life of fellow members of the community.

Thanks very much.