Many older Australians were struggling to maintain even a modest standard of living because of spiralling power, health and other costs, National Seniors Australia said today.
National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the impacts of rising costs were exacerbated by government rules that prevented seniors from earning more than $6500 a year without losing part of their Age Pension.
Further, the number of home care packages, which enabled older people to stay in their own homes for longer, was woefully inadequate to meet demand and those who did move to residential aged care were being failed by an inadequate accreditation system that needed an urgent overhaul.
In its 2018/19 Federal Budget submission, National Seniors Australia said a recent survey of members, many on low and limited incomes, had revealed many would be happy to work longer.
“One in three age pensioners said increasing the Work Bonus, which we argue should be lifted to $10,000pa, would enable them to continue in paid employment,” Mr Henschke said. “Most Age Pensioners also cited the adequacy of the pension as the issue of most concern to them.
Mr Henschke said older Australians feared their access to essential services such as power were at risk.
“We know many seniors are unable to pay for air-conditioning in summer or heating in winter because of the spiralling energy costs,” he said.
“We commend the government’s efforts to bring these under control, but they have come too late for many older people and we constantly hear stories of them going without food or other essential items to pay their power bills. That’s why the government should retain the energy supplement and accelerate reforms to lower power costs.”
National Seniors has also called on the government to double the number of level three and four home care packages to ease current shortages.
“More than 100,000 seniors are waiting for these packages,” he said. “If they can’t get the care they need, taxpayers will again be picking up the tab when they are forced into residential aged care because they cannot look after themselves at home.
“It’s also essential that the accreditation system for aged care facilities be ramped up. We welcome the government’s recent move to introduce unannounced quality and safety audits but more is needed.
We believe that quality surveyors must seek the views of all residents or their representatives rather than the current 10 percent, to ensure their voices are heard.”
Ian Henschke is available for comment on 0418 815 319.Media contact: Lynda Schekoske 07 32339134 or 0488 047 380.