Senior advocacy groups across Australia have applauded the Albanese government’s 2023 Budget for including a range of measures aimed at assisting pensioners who are affected by the country’s cost of living crisis.
The Budget, unveiled by Treasure Jim Chalmers on Tuesday, May 9, outlined initiatives specifically designed to help older Australians who are struggling to make ends meet, such as increasing the jobseeker rate, reducing the cost of medication, providing energy rebates, and increasing funding for aged care workers.
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia’s CEO Patricia Sparrow says these measures are a “crucial” step towards proving a more supportive society for Australia’s elderly population.
“There are many direct benefits that older Australians will receive in their wallets out of this year’s budget,” Sparrow says.
“Energy relief of up to $500 per year, cheaper medicines, more GPs bulk billing pensioners and healthcare card holders without a co-payment, $15 a week more rent assistance, $20 a week more in JobSeeker payments, and an additional $46 more a week in JobSeeker if you’re 55 years old or older battling ageism when looking for a job for more than 9 months.
“We know that older women are disproportionately impacted by unemployment and are unfortunately the fastest growing group at risk of homelessness, so budget measures that address those issues are not just welcomed, they’re crucial.”
COTA Australia welcomed the new health initiatives in the Budget.https://t.co/ZoJKvQaI68
— COTA Australia (@COTAAustralia) May 9, 2023
The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) has also expressed its appreciation of the Federal Government’s $36 billion investment towards aged care reform.
“We are pleased to see the continued commitment to a rights-based approach as we build towards a new Aged Care Act, and that it will contain a statement of rights,” OPAN CEO, Craig Gear says.
“But importantly, those rights are needed now, need to be enforceable, and deliver restorative justice.”
Gear also expressed his support for the government’s commitment to increasing wages for the workforce in the aged care sector.
“Solving workforce issues is key to lifting the standards and access to aged care and a decent pay rise is a good first step, but we know these issues cannot be solved overnight,” he says.
However, both Gear and Sparrow conveyed their disappointment that the creation of the new Support at Home Program has once again been postponed.
“There’s no question that there’s still a need for far greater reform in aged care, so it’s disappointing that the creation of the new Support at Home Program has been delayed yet again in this budget,” Sparrow says.
“Older people want to remain living in their own homes and often have to wait for months before they can get the support they need.”
According to Gear, the “delay risks perpetuating the service gaps that older people are currently experiencing.”
“Adequate care at home is what older people deserve, and they shouldn’t have to wait for it,” he says.
“We stand ready and willing to work with the Government on interim measures to ensure no home care recipient is left unsupported in these circumstances.”