MEDIA RELEASE from COTA Australia
7 October 2020
Budget delivers some good news for older Australians, but other things are missing
Australia’s peak body of older Australians, Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, has welcomed a number of significant Federal Budget initiatives in pensions and aged care, but expressed concern about the plight of mature age and older workers who received no targeted support despite being equally vulnerable to long-term unemployment as a result of the COVID -induced recession.
COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, said older Australians will be very pleased to see an additional 23,000 home care packages at a cost of $1.6 billion, a record increase. However, he said they would be disappointed that there is still no commitment and plan to get waiting times down to 30 days and ensure no one is prematurely forced into residential care.
“The new home care packages are a substantial step forward and to be applauded, as are the supporters of our ‘Safer at Home’ campaign who lobbied for this”, Mr Yates said, “but we still have a way to go and more will need to be done in the May 2021 Budget,” Mr Yates said.
Mr Yates said COTA also welcomed other aged care initiatives, including:
•$29.8 million to implement the Serious Incident Response Scheme to provide better protection for residents in aged care;
•$91.6 million over four years to create an independent assessment service for the new residential care assessment and funding tool;
•$35.6 million over two years to extend the Business Improvement Fund, to help restructure residential aged care; and
•Commitments to upskilling aged care workers in dementia and funding the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council, which now needs to deliver leadership in workforce reform.
“Pensioners will be very pleased about additional pension supplements of $250 in December and $250 in March, a positive response by government to our strong lobbying for additional help to pensioners at a time that the indexation formula did not deliver an increase in the pension rate,” Mr Yates said.
“However,we are disappointed that there is no increase in the inadequate Commonwealth Rent Assistance maximum rate, and that older unemployed people will still have their savings plundered by the Liquid Assets Test at the very time they should have retirement savings protected.”
Mr Yates said COTA “welcomed the huge range and depth of economic stimulus measures that are the centrepiece of this Budget, including the support targeted at getting young people employed.
“But we are disappointed there is no parallel support to keep older Australians in work.
“They are equally vulnerable to redundancy, age discrimination and being locked out of the workforce, and we are fearful this will be exacerbated by the failure to match youth subsidies,” he said.
Mr Yates said COTA welcomes the measures to improve the transparency and accountability of super funds by establishing the YourSuper comparison website, which will allow members to make more informed decisions about where their superannuation savings will earn the best return; and also the implementation of the “super follows you” recommendation so that less people will end with multiple accounts.
“However we note that the government has not made other announcements in response to the Retirement Income Review, and again call on government to release this independent, once-in-a-generation review of our retirement income system,so that we can all share the rich data it provides on what’s working and what’s not adequate, so we can discuss positive ways forward to strengthen. pensions and superannuation,” he said.
MEDIA RELEASE from COTA Australia
31 October 2019
Aged Care Royal Commission Interim Report provides Government the mandate to commence transformation by December MYEFO
Australia’s peak body of older Australians, Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, today congratulated the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on its “Interim Report: Neglect”, which has recognised not only the neglect of older people within the aged care system, but also the neglect of successive Governments, that have failed to implement many recommendations from over 18 government inquiries.
COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, welcomed the Royal Commissions’ confirmation that neglect, abuse and poor care are more widespread than governments and many providers have been prepared to accept, but which COTA has called out over many years.
He also welcomed the Royal Commission’s finding that aged care needs fundamental reform and redesign, indeed major transformation, for which COTA has repeatedly called.
Respect for older Australians a cornerstone of achieving better outcomes
“This cruel and harmful system must be changed. We owe it to our parents, our grandparents, our partners, our friends. We owe it to strangers. We owe it to future generations. Older people deserve so much more.
“We have found that the aged care system fails to meet the needs of our older, often very vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care for older people. It is unkind and uncaring towards them. In too many instances, it simply neglects them.”1
COTA Australia in particular welcomes the Royal Commission’s recognition that older Australians are neglected not only within the aged care system which supports around 1.3 million older Australians each year, but also in the negative attitudes towards older people within the broader community.
“COTA agrees with the Royal Commission that older Australians should be more valued by the wider community. It’s not just about loving your grandparents, Australians need to also reach out as a community and support their elderly neighbours and fellow citizens, many of whom are still waiting to receive care they’ve been assessed as needing and won’t even be in the formal care system,” Mr Yates said.
“Part of this respect includes ensuring the Federal Government stops neglecting aged care when it comes to Budget decisions both in December’s MYEFO and the Federal Budget next May.
“If the government is taking the Royal Commission seriously and is also serious about respecting the many people and experts who have given their time to the process so far, then they cannot ignore this report and must commit more funds in the forthcoming MYFEO.”
While some actions will need to wait for the Final Report of the Commission in a year’s time, the Interim Report identifies urgent need to act in three areas.
Urgent injection of funds for Home Care Packages
Mr Yates said that the government must take on board the Royal Commission’s finding that home care waiting times over 12 months have created an “unsafe” system and must urgently inject urgent funding of $2 – 2.5 billion per year to reduce the home care waiting time to acceptable levels.
“While the Government will need time to consider the total report, the inescapable message from the Royal Commission is that hundreds of millions of dollars are needed towards Home Care Packages – now, this year, not in 2020.
“COTA has repeatedly advocated that older Australians must not wait longer than three months for care and the Department of Health told the Royal Commission this would cost between $2-2.5 billion per annum to achieve,” Mr Yates said.
On a recent ABC Q&A program Minister Colbeck said that target should be no more than 60 days.
“Too many people are dying waiting for care or are being forced into residential aged care when they choose not to be there and should have real choices about where they live as they age. “
Reduce over-reliance on chemical restraint in aged care now
The Royal Commission has also identified that the use of chemical restraints in aged care is shockingly widespread and immediate action can and must be taken to reduce the overuse of chemical restraint by providers and doctors.
“Within a few years, with an improvement in skills, clinical governance systems and staffing across aged care we believe it must be eliminated entirely,” Mr Yates said.
COTA will continue to engage with Government and the Senate to improve the regulations so that they ensure chemical restraint is a last, not first choice for aged care workers, and requires active, informed consent.
“The Government’s recent regulations on chemical restraint are a step forward but need improvement to ensure that chemical restraint is always a last resort, and used only for a short time,” said Mr Yates
“Government needs to implement measures to improve not only the prescribing behaviour of GPs, but also the number of times aged care staff decide that chemical restraint should be used for individual clients once it has been prescribed.”
Confirm the timetable for removing Younger People with a Disability from Nursing Homes
COTA Australia backs the call from the Young People in Nursing Homes National Alliance that Government should immediately adopt the Commission’s Report’s timeframes that no new young Australians should enter residential aged care from 2022, and that by 2025 all young Australians who do not wish to will no longer reside in aged care.
“The funding of the NDIS presents a unique opportunity to provide appropriate accommodation alternatives to younger Australians with a disability. We support the Commission’s timeframe and call on the Government to make this commitment,” said Mr Yates.
COTA commends the Commissioners
“The Commissioners must be commended for the way they have taken on board the many voices and experiences of people using aged care and their families in a system that views aged care as a transaction rather than a relationship or even care; is designed around process rather than good outcomes; and lacks transparency,” Mr Yates said.
“There are clear structural reforms that are needed but cultural change is absolutely critical as well, from the level of governance and senior management down.
“That includes looking at the way we view aged care as a profession. The Interim Report explains just how that workforce is under pressure, underappreciated and lacking in key skills.”
Mr Yates thanked the Commissioners for their time and effort in producing such a thorough report which shows great empathy for people accessing aged care and working in the sector.
“In particular, we record our appreciation of Commissioner Richard Tracey’s contribution to the Interim Report prior to his recent passing.”
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439; Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280
MEDIA RELEASE from COTA Australia
10 January 2019
PC Super report highlights need for full retirement incomes review
Today’s Productivity Commission inquiry final report into Australia’s superannuation system must trigger a comprehensive and independent inquiry into our whole retirement incomes system at the earliest opportunity, the leading senior’s advocacy organisation, COTA Australia, said today.
The report shows that Australia’s super system is not meeting the needs of a growing pool of retirees, costing someone who is 55 today up $79,000 by retirement, and a new job entrant more than $533,000 if they retire in 2064.
It also highlights entrenched underperformance by many funds, too much inadequate governance, toothlessly implemented regulation, and structural design flaws that have led to the system failing to meet the needs of a modern workforce.
The super system also fails taxpayers, who both subsidise superannuation on an inequitable basis, and pay for the additional age pension coverage required when super is insufficient.
COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates said the findings leave no doubt that our retirement income system needs an urgent review to ensure we get to a fair and sustainable system for all Australians, which puts the needs of Australian people and fund members ahead of the interests of funds and other stakeholders.
“COTA has argued for years for a full and independent review of our whole retirement incomes system, which has been supported by the Grattan Institute and many others,” Mr Yates said.
“We need to properly calibrate the relationship between the pension, superannuation, the family home and other savings and income to make sure that they all work together to provide the best outcomes for all Australians when they retire.
“The workforce and population ageing have both changed substantially since the introduction of superannuation in 1992. After almost 30 years the system needs to adapt but we need to be very careful that addressing superannuation in isolation does not create issues in other areas of retirement income.”
Mr Yates said the Productivity Commission report clearly signaled the need for stronger performance requirements in the super industry, which can be put in place straight away.
“There are too many under performing funds, not enough focus on the retirement phase of a person’s life, and desperate need for better products that reflect Australians are living longer. It is also totally unjustifiable that so many people are forced into having multiple accounts – with a staggering 10 million unintended multiple accounts sitting with funds,” he said.
“The Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition cannot ignore this report. Superannuation is a key pillar of many people’s retirement – alongside the pension and the family home.
“As the Commission said today, ad hoc policy initiatives have chipped away at some problems, but we need full architectural change. If super funds are letting Australians down, then we need action now and we need bipartisan commitment to making it happen.”
Federal Budget May 2018
Please click on links below for the latest COTA Australia Media Releases:
10 February 2018
COTA Tasmania welcomes the support for older Tasmanians in the Liberal Party’s seniors policy released today.
“Older Tasmanians make an enormous contribution to our community and COTA Tasmania calls on all parties to continue to support Tasmanians as we age,” said Deb Lewis, COTA Tasmania Acting CEO.
COST OF LIVING PRESSURES
The recognition of the impact of cost of living pressures on all Tasmanians on fixed incomes is welcome. Many older Tasmanians on fixed incomes struggle with the high cost of utilities that make up a significant proportion of their expenditure. For those with low usage levels, the unavoidable and high fixed components of bills are a challenge. These initiatives will relieve cost of living pressures for those living on fixed incomes and will make a real difference for many older Tasmanians.
STAMP DUTY RELIEF & HOUSING
Stamp duty relief for pensioners who are downsizing in later life is very welcome. This commitment will help older Tasmanians to downsize or rightsize to appropriate homes for later life. This can be a challenge in the current market where housing prices are at a high.
While many older Tasmanians live in their own homes, it is important to remember that housing stress is also a significant and growing issue for those in the rental market. An increasing number of older Tasmanians are relying on rental accommodation with all the attendant issues of security of tenure and affordability. Homelessness among older Tasmanians is also growing.
“The availability of affordable and appropriate housing is a central issue for many in our community, including older Tasmanians,” said Deb Lewis.
ELDER ABUSE PREVENTION
Ongoing support for elder abuse prevention initiatives is very welcome and COTA Tasmania encourages all parties to continue to address this hidden issue in our community. A whole of government and community wide response is required if we are to reduce the incidence of elder abuse in all its forms. The Australian Law Reform Commission report released last year recommends a series of initiatives that require commitment from both State and Federal governments.
“COTA Tasmania is seeking a commitment from all parties to support the recommendations of the ALRC report and to update Tasmania’s elder abuse prevention strategy,” said Deb Lewis..
ACTIVE AGEING PLAN 2017-2022
COTA Tasmania is pleased to see the Liberal Party’s strong commitment and ongoing support for the implementation of the Strong, liveable communities: Active Ageing Plan 2017-2022. The plan was prepared with broad input from older Tasmanians throughout the state.
“COTA Tasmania is seeking a commitment from all parties to fully implement the plan,” said Deb Lewis.
“Many of the challenges facing older Tasmanians – affordable housing; transport; cost of living pressure and ageism – require innovative, collaborative solutions and a long term commitment from Government.
“The additional funding support for COTA Tasmania will assist us to continue our work with government to implement the plan and engage older Tasmanians in the process.
“Tasmania’s ageing population is a reality and an opportunity.”
Seniors Week is a key opportunity for many older Tasmanians who look forward to getting involved in new activities and meeting new people with shared interests.
Being involved in the community and staying active are critical to ageing well.
COTA Tasmania is pleased to see the ongoing commitment from the Liberal Party to fund Seniors Week. Seniors Week has gone from strength to strength in terms of events and participation in recent years.
COTA Tasmania looks forward to continuing our involvement with Seniors Week. Over time, the cost of delivering this event has grown despite careful management. Fixed levels of government funding for Seniors Week has increased the need to seek private sector support for this high profile state-wide event.
COTA Tasmania welcomes the Liberal Party’s expression of support for older Tasmanians and for our organisation. We look forward to continuing working with all political parties to ensure the needs and interests of older Tasmanians are met.
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.