Respecting institutions and government, believing in the great Australian dream of home ownership, paying the taxes they owed and saving for a rainy day sure didn’t pay off for Baby Boomers and their parents, it seems. A lifetime of loyalty has got them nowhere.
It’s becoming clear that what, if we’d heard about them personally, would’ve seemed like unfortunate one-offs when it came to financial services, retirement housing and aged care matters, are, it’s turning out, part of a pattern of mistreatment of an age group that has for decades been the loyal customers of the very companies reportedly doling out the mistreatment.
Now, with two royal commissions laying or about to lay bare the misbehaviour of two of the industries with which Baby Boomers trust their most important ‘assets’ – their lifetimes’ savings and their beloved parents – it’s sadly evident that this loyalty has been rewarded with poor advice and wilfully complex products and contracts from the companies themselves, and years of sweeping under the rug by government and regulators.
That it is some of Australia’s biggest and most-trusted brands involved in the royal commissions beggars belief. And that their share prices, which Baby Boomers’ superannuation savings help bolster, might feel the brunt of their unethical actions is a double-whammy for the 60-plus customers who did nothing to deserve any of this treatment.
Today’s announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that there will be a royal commission into the aged care sector will grab the headlines, stealing the thunder of the ABC’s Four Corners, which is due on Monday to begin airing the findings of its own investigation into the industry. Now the government can say it was onto the issue before the media storm broke, when the reality is, the issue of maltreatment, poor standards and complex financing is hardly new.
Inquiries into aged care have been done before, but the same issues keep surfacing. The question now is whether Baby Boomers will be satisfied with waiting for the government to come up with the answers on how to fix a difficult sector, or whether they will fight to have the answers they deem best enacted. Will they air their grievances with sympathetic talkback radio hosts and nothing more, or will they use their political and social muscle to say that enough is enough?
You have the power to cause a great unravelling of the ‘ageing’ sector in favour of a better choice for your parents and you in your turn.
I use ‘ageing’ for a reason – I don’t just mean aged care. Any inquiry should investigate aged care, home care and retirement living in a comprehensive look at the housing, care and other services offered to older Australians, and ensure that all retirement offerings serve you in your later years with the respect you deserve. Change should be driven through the heart of institutions that fail to do just that – respect Aussie 60-pluses for having been the backbone of the nation for so long.
But to effect change, you have to be prepared to move with your feet.
Baby Boomers know how to protest and can do so again, with their voting power (by informing local candidates at all levels of government that the needs of older Australians deserve more than a token nod), their money (by spending only with providers that genuinely offer 60-pluses a fair deal) and their voices (by writing and speaking about their wants and needs to opinion-makers at every level, by having their words of protest published and by protesting in the streets if necessary!).
As we head into a royal commission on aged care, let’s call for it instead to be a royal commission on ageing, that’s extended to the industries of retirement living, home care and surrounding services that benefit from government funding. The whole ageing industry should be up for review, with greater transparency and better products and services the outcome. Because if they aren’t, it’s your later years that will suffer.