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COTA

New ABS data highlights older Australians value to economy

Media Release 18th October 2016

Australia's leading seniors' advocacy body, COTA Australia, has welcomed the release of the national Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2015 as a critical tool to help governments plan for the challenges and opportunities of Australia's changing population mix.

The figures highlight the significant contribution older Australians make to the economy and society and demonstrate that older people are taking greater responsibility for their health and welfare.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said: "This latest ABS data shows that older Australians are more active, more productive and living healthier than ever before.

"In just a few short years, the prevalence of disability amongst older people has decreased as well as the proportion of older people who need assistance with daily tasks.

"At the same time, increasing numbers of older people participated in exercise and recreation as well as took on volunteering and both formal and informal caring roles.

"This paints a picture of an active and inclusive older Australia - one in which older people continue to contribute and participate as they age.

"This is great news for our seniors but also for Australia's health and aged care budgets.

"With the right policies governments can build on these trends.

"Preventive health measures, promotion of active ageing, reduction of age discrimination in the workplace and other measures can be put in place by governments of all levels which increase health and happiness and reduce the potential longer term economic impacts of the ageing population."

Mr Yates said the ABS report also highlights the contribution of carers, timely during Carers Week 2016.

"The average age of primary carers is 55; and there are 90,000 carers over 75 years of age, who are critical to enabling older people with disability, often their spouse, to remain at home rather than go into expensive residential care. This is a group of Australians that save the nation over a billion dollars a week.

"These contributions are immense and of critical importance to our economy and communities. The survey released today deserves the attention of every leader and government across the country.

"If government wants to continue to benefit from the cost saving activity of carers then it needs to provide more support and services specifically for the Carer from the beginning, not waiting until they break down and become another primary consumer"

Mr Yates said the release of the survey also underlines the importance of the regular and consistent work that ABS does in areas like this, where good and timely data is essential to good evidenced based policy and program development.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Peter Stahel 0408 584 439

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.

Download a copy of the media release

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