Michelle Lensink

CO.AS.IT

This speech is in relation to CO.AS.IT which is also known as the Italian Assistance Association of South Australia Incorporated.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On 29 November I attended the launch of the CO.AS.IT web site, which is also known as the Italian Assistance Association of South Australia Incorporated. CO.AS.IT has had a rather long gestation and, indeed, when I worked for the Hon. Robert Lawson when he was minister for the ageing several years ago, I attended one of the foundation meetings of a number of the groups which came together to get this going. The organisations included ANFE, the Society of St Hilarion, the Italian Benevolent Foundation, CIC and APAIA. These Italian welfare organisations for older people were supported by some MPs who have been here and some who still are, including Mr Joe Scalzi and Mr Mario Feleppa, and I note that the Hon. Julian Stefani has had a long and distinguished association with ANFE.


CO.AS.IT has been designed to be a peak body for Italian elderly people to assist with the provision of information and other services. I think that this is a very important aim, when we look at some of the demographics of the Italian population in South Australia. As we know, the majority of the Italian population, like many other Europeans, arrived after the Second World War. According to the records, in the year 1947, 2 428 South Australians were Italian born. By 1971, there were 31 712 Italian-born South Australians, and it is this group who are now in their older years. South Australia's population of people over 65 is actually more ethnically diverse than our general population and, of those aged under 65, 3.9 per cent are overseas born while, of those South Australians over 65, 32.8 per cent are overseas born. Those who are of Italian heritage, whether born in Italy or not, increased in the period 1986 to 2001 by 44 per cent, outstrip¬ping the average growth rate.


Even though Italian South Australians may on average have had more children, there will always be those who do not have family to rely on, which is where services such as ANFE and the residential aged care services are so important. The Italian community has by far the highest proportion of households where the language spoken at home is not English, at some 40 per cent, the next highest being Greek, at 27 per cent. It is important that we acknowledge that this cohort is coming through as they age and will be in need of significant services. The CO.AS.IT board is chaired by Franca Antonello and the Vice-President is Jeff Fiebig, who was at one stage the director of what was then known as the Office for the Ageing.
His comment at the launch of the web site last week was that it would have been good if we could have actually formally invited Robert Lawson who, as minister, had been very supportive not only of Italian aged care services but of ethnically diverse services, and it was he who provided the initial seed funding which has enabled CO.AS.IT to become established. There are also other representatives of these organisations on the board of CO.AS.IT, including Gino Cocchiaro from ANFE; Simon di Francesco from CIC; Vince Timpano from APAIA; and others from Saint Hilarion, PISA (the Italian meals service) and the Northern Italian Community.


In short, I would like to wish this initiative well and commend all the groups for the work that they do for Italian aged services. I hope that they are able to provide an effective working model for all our ethnic aged groups that are coming through in increasing numbers and that will be in need of services in the next few years in greater numbers.

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