30 June 2016
Older people don’t rate – major parties ignore one third of the electorate
When older Australians attend their polling booths this Saturday they will be hard pressed to know who they should vote for, given their needs have been largely ignored by the major parties this election, says Australia’s leading seniors’ organisation.
COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates released an election scorecard today that portrays a sea of uncertainty and indifference about most of the issues of concern expressed by older Australians.
“In a tight election this is an amazing missed opportunity for the major parties and their candidates to have picked up the votes that could decide who forms government,” Mr Yates said. “It’s stunning that the party that really responded to older people’s needs could have won a lot more votes, but didn’t take up the opportunity.
“Despite people over 60 making up nearly a third of voters this election, their clearly expressed concerns have not been given priority by the major parties.”
At the beginning of this election COTA surveyed over 1000 older people to ask what their biggest issues were for the election.
“Quality health care is the biggest concern for older Australians – very understandably, as they are the largest number of customers of the health system.
“Yet apart from a confusing slanging match about the Medicare payments system and increasingly narrow differences about who would reinstate what to longer term hospital funding, there has barely been a sensible commitment to improve the health system to better equip older people for active and healthier ageing.
“Focused services to support older people’s mental health, and timely access to good oral health services for older Australians, stand out as key areas that should have had a specific focus, but have not attracted attention. It’s as if older people’s needs in these critical areas are invisible to politicians.
“Similarly, accessing quality aged care services when they are finally needed was another high priority concern; and an Essential Research survey found that 42 percent of voters would vote for a party that offered better aged care – amazingly none of them want to take up the offer!
“The major parties have refused to commit to abolishing the aged care rationing system that means waiting lists for older people needing care will continue to grow at an alarming rate.
“It’s unacceptable that frail elderly people assessed by government as requiring care can’t get it when its most needed. This can’t continue and addressing this issue better be a priority for whoever wins government this weekend or we will pursue them on it over the next three years.”
Mr Yates said other areas in which the major parties had not made major commitments were affordable housing, age discrimination and a comprehensive retirement incomes system.
“The next three years will require commitments by all parties much greater than their performance in this election if they want to ensure older people feel valued and their needs acknowledged – because at the moment they feel like they are being taken for granted.”
COTA Australia’s election scorecard can be found at: http://www.cota.org.au/australia/achieving/election2016/election_scorecard.aspx
COTA CEO Ian Yates is available for interview on 0418 835 439.
Media contact: Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774
16 June 2016
Older Australians welcome new commitments in dementia care
Leading seniors’ advocacy organisation COTA Australia has welcomed Aged Care Minister Sussan Ley’s announcement today of dedicated funds for specialist dementia care units and dementia friendly communities.
COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said “The numbers of people with dementia are increasing as the population ages, especially as the numbers of people 80-plus rise dramatically over the next two decades.
“That means now is the time to get better prepared both for enabling communities to support more people living with dementia in the community; and for specialist services able to provide prompt, high quality care to people with higher level dementia needs.
“Specialist dementia units will provide one-on-one care for people who experience very severe behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia and are unable to be supported in a mainstream aged care service.
“We welcome the commitment to work with the sector, including consumer organisations, in working out how best to utilise the $7.5 million over four years for specialist dementia care units. These are additional funds to the normal funding for bed allocations.
“We also look forward to working with government on how the $3.9 million of existing funding now being targeted to promoting dementia friendly communities will deliver the best outcomes.
“Councils on the Ageing are at the forefront, in partnership with local governments, of moves toward age friendly communities, and we strongly support the inclusion of dementia friendly measures within that movement.”
The intent of today’s announcement is to create local programs that engage community resources to raise awareness about dementia in local communities. It will improve opportunities for people with dementia and their carers being better supported by people living with and around them, and living independently for as long as possible.
Mr Yates said” “Australia needs to much better prepared for a growing ageing population with many more people living with dementia and this is a good step in that direction“
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774
15 June 2016
Coalition’s welcome elder abuse announcement sets stage for multi-partisan new national strategy
Leading seniors advocacy organisation COTA Australia has welcomed the Coalition’s policy to protect older Australians from abuse as a great first step toward a fully multi-partisan national strategy for prevention of elder abuse.
COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said “Too many older Australians suffer physical, emotional and financial abuse and it’ good to see this often hidden issue being given the public attention it deserves, and highlighted in the election campaign.
“This announcement will lay the groundwork for the development of a fully multi-partisan national strategy that is essential to getting us on the road to ensuring all older Australians are safe from abuse.
“We particularly welcome measures that will quantify the prevalence of abuse in our communities because too often it goes unreported or unnoticed, and we need to understand the scope of the problem to make sure adequate resources are being addressed to prevent and redress it.
“We will welcome the opportunity to have input into the national awareness campaign to educate and to change attitudes and values. Critical to this will be addressing the stigma of ageism, and age discrimination, both of which are all too prevalent and contribute to abuse.
“The national hotline will be a critical tool to make it easier for older people and their families to be heard and to report incidences of abuse.
The Turnbull Government today released its policy to protect the rights of older Australians, including a $15 million investment to develop a national elder abuse hotline; develop pilot training programmes for frontline staff; conduct a study into the prevalence of elder abuse to better understand the problem; and develop a national awareness campaign to educate and to change attitudes and values.
Mr Yates said” “This is a significant announcement by the Coalition and we urge all political parties to match these commitments to demonstrate to all Australians that we have no tolerance for elder abuse.”
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774
COTA Tasmania is an important source of information and comment on the key issues of older Tasmanians.
For all media enquiries, please contact (03) 6231 3265.
COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians representing over 500,000 older Australians across every State and Territory.