Vital seniors’ service could be axed over budget cuts

There are fears further cuts to Meals on Wheels in the Federal Budget could lead to the vital service for seniors being axed.
There are fears Meals on Wheels could be axed if it faces further cuts in the upcoming Federal Budget.

It’s one of Australia’s most vital support services for older Australians, but there are fears Meals on Wheels could be axed if it faces further cuts in the Federal Budget.

Over the past few years the program, which supports 120,000 older Australians, has faced several funding cuts.

That’s despite the service supporting 5% of Australians over the age of 70 and 14% of those over the age of 80.

The Herald Sun reports that a pensioner would now need to spend 10% of their income for five hot meals a week, while a pensioner couple would need to spend 15%.

That’s because the subsidy from the Federal Government has fallen to just $17 a week.

In a submission to the Federal Government, Australian Meals on Wheels president Nelson Matthews described the cost of the service to pensioners as “unsustainable”.

“Lack of access to affordable Meals on Wheels services will further drive up health and aged care costs, which are already unsustainable for government,” he wrote, the Herald Sun reports.

“While age, ill health or disability may reduce some people’s capacity to get out and about, Meals on Wheels helps make it possible for them to stay in their homes, where they are happiest, and maintain some independence.

“Delivery of nourishing meals offers social interaction and ensures clients’ wellbeing, helping people live the lives they choose.”

There are also fears uncertainty over reforms to the service delivery could lead to a loss of volunteers and “poor” meals.

In their submission to the Federal Government, Meals on Wheels is calling for an extra $5 million in funding (a boost of 10%), which according to the Herald Sun, equates to just 50 cents for every meal the service provides.

What do you think? Should the Federal Government give more support to Meals on Wheels?

  1. Garry  

    Why do Governments always slash costs and the bottom end of the scale I do not have the service but I know a lot that rely on for at least one meal, its an absolute joke.

    • Iustitia  

      Why? Because, at a MINIMUM, each and every federal politician will retire on $120,000 pa (CPI adjusted). Oh, and by the way, they can take that when they retire from parliament, no matter what age. Even “Smokin’ Joe” Hockey (52 years old), now receiving in excess of $380,000 a year as ambassador to the US, is ENTITLED to take half of his parliamentary pension (in his case, more than $110,000) regardless of working full-time. 50c is too much for the federal government to give to each meal prepared by meals on wheels – a ‘plague on all of their houses”.

  2. Vicki Smith  

    Attack those who need it the most & give 1 billion dollars to an Indian millionaire (with a very bad record in environmental concerns)
    Hope everyone’s happy they voted in this unconscionable LNP Government

  3. R jardine  

    The pensioners and seniors pay for these meals which are frozen now for convenience to eat when they are hungry.

  4. Diana  

    Oh yes, the first thing they think of when cutting costs is – let’s get the pensioners! Then they give a BILLION dollars to an Indian company who is going to tear up Australia’s precious farm land and pollute our waterways. TYPICAL TURNBULL.

    • Irena  

      Going the same way as that deplorable trump
      Plenty money for bo be and politicians but. Make seniors suffer way to go yiu dispicables and then they say no euthanesia. No just starve them out.

    • tester  

      Rubbish. Pensioners live on more than people on the minimum wage. Stop whinging.

  5. Wicky  

    I am a “far from well off” 71yo, thus I’m sensitive to budget cuts involving seniors but I firmly believe that a big part of the expenditure problems concerning our aging population can be addressed/fixed by encouraging more philanthropy from our well off business leaders, sports stars, entertainment personalities, etc.
    I have a plan but need someone with drive, energy and exposure to get this going. I’ve tried Federal and State (Qld) Governments but was just pushed aside. Tried Everald Compton but got pushed aside then forgotten (apparently)

  6. Maria Berry  

    As an advocate and consumer representative for older people this news is truly alarming. Living in a regional area where access to service, transport and social isolation are 3 huge issues for many of our ageing population. Having worked as volunteer on several projects around better care of older people, social connections for older people,healthy ageing is inclusion in our communities. The impact of this for many is going to be increased isolation, poor nutrition (not the guarantee of that one meal a day) and also put more pressure on existing carers and family. Not all carers and family live next door. It’s also about the eyes and ears of that one visit a day for the older person. Our volunteers from meals on wheels are actually doing a lot more than a meal delivery. I have always seen prevention as the cost cutter long term. All I can see from this is more frequent flyer trips to our already under pressure hospitals. Why are we punishing our older communities, depicting them as the burden on society, not valuing or seeing a sense of worth. We all need to take a step back and remember who put us here. Truly saddened to read this news and will certainly campaign to stop this from happening. I am sure there are other areas in our budget that can be cut back on. If there are more continued cuts with our aged care we are going to have a roll on effect with the increase of elder abuse. This may not be deliberate or intentional but it will happen. I just find this contradictory, the government want to keep older people in their communities longer, with “consumer driven care and choices”, this is cutting off a vital and extremely important service.
    Maria Berry

    • You’re absolutely right, Maria. Prevention is better than cure. But apart from that, as you say, the volunteers are much more than food deliverers. I used to do it years ago and many loved a chat, would show us how their ulcer is healing, ask us to post a letter for them, look for a lost cat, all sorts of things, including calling the ambulance when necessary. To lose a service so valuable is not a tragedy, it’s a crime against Australia.

    • tester  

      Have you checked your tax return? The aged pension is the biggest area of spending in this country. When cuts happens, you have to take it from the bucket where the the most is being spent.

      • Old Codger  

        Rubbish. If you checked your history you would find that originally money was set aside to pay for future pensions. That politicians have seen fit to raid that pot is a crime. Australian pensioners have paid tax all their life to fund this.

  7. Old Codger  

    Retired pollies exempt of course.

  8. Geoff sharp  

    I think the LNP has a death wish…..mine…..

    • Deb  

      Yes I think your right Geoff. Can’t imagine our generation constantly assaulting the rights and needs of our parents. The housing debate, the constant advertising about funerals. What a world

  9. This government has cut services to the elderly, the sick, the unemployed, those who need legal aid and those who need domestic violence services. They’ve slashed our overseas aid. So they’ve made lots of “savings.” All the things that made Australia a good, progressive country. At the same time, they’ve more than doubled the debt (which they called a crisis when they were in opposition) trebled the deficit, while there’s no new infrastructure to speak of. They’ve also sold off ports, electricity services and more. Where has the money gone? How brainwashed must you be to vote LNP? Life in Australia is going down the gurgler and our grandchildren are inheriting a much badder, sadder country and life. Yet they are only there because people voted for this.

    • tester  

      This government is cutting down on expenditure because the money is running out. Labour spent all the money, remember?

  10. j marsh  

    I am so sick of this government hitting on the oldies, come on you older folk vote them out! Dont just vote the way you always have but please do think about where your vote is going!

    • tester  

      Who would you propose then? Labour is the reason why the money has run out!

  11. Maybe we should all go and eat in the pollies dining room BUT then again how would we get there!!! A bunch of Jerks. Hit the pensioners first.😁😁

  12. I was really surprised when I was helping a lady who had a brain bleed get meals on wheels. I had suggested it to her given I used to work for the Hospitals System and on a Monday and Wednesday we would plate up all the meals on wheels after our normal breakfast tray production lines. So for me it was a natural thing to know what the food was and how the serve was and that it cost $2.75 a day that was a Cooked meal fruit and drink and sweets . When I looked into ordering Meals on Wheels for this person around 10 years after I retired I found that the bill varied as to the order you place a menu was given . not less that $12 a day for basic food for pensioners meals on Wheels. Its cheaper for peopekl you buy healthy choices or some food packs from the general store in fact its cheaper to by from any food line given the pricign when you go through the menu that is offered with meals on wheels . the days of left over food that is prepared and made the same as hospital delivered food in the community is long over its a money making business. Taking advantage of the low end. even people who buy for diet who can well afford the life and easy ect are paying the same amount of money as pensioners its a disgrace and this is a cop out side step for the frail and needy to survive. You tell me what pensioer can afford to pay $15 and over a day on food . t least when they are able to buy and prepare the volume is there in the pricing so they get a few meals or breakfasts out of packet the volume is the main loss here . shame shame shame on though who take advantage of the disadvantage

    • missy  

      MOW costs $45.50 for 7 days ($6.50 a day) in NSW according to their website while Lite n Easy costs $27.50 to $30 for either 5 Meals in a Bowl or 5 Lite meals ($5.50 or $6 a day) or $58 for 7 lunches ($8.28). Why does Meals on Wheels need so much government funding when a lot of their workers are volunteers and Lite n Easy have to pay all their workers? Personally, after having seen quite a few meals from MOW (yuk) I would prefer to use a private supplier that offers a wider choice of meals, employs people in paying jobs and that can even save me money.
      Disclaimer: I have no interest in Lite n Easy or any other private supplier of meals – I just used them as an example.

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