COTA Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide this pre-budget submission of measures that we urge the Australian Government to implement as part of the 2019 Federal Budget. The issues identified in this submission impact many older Australians and the measures outlined here to address these issues have the potential to improve the lives of a large and growing proportion of Australians.
- Older people comprise a significant proportion of the Australian population with the most recent census recording over 3.6 million Australians aged 65 and over, and more than 7.9 million people aged 50 and over (15.7 per cent and 33.9 per cent of the population respectively). Some projections show that the number of older Australians aged 65 and over may increase to increase to 22 per cent of the population by 2061, from the 15.7 per cent at the 2016 census. Those proportions will increase significantly over coming years.
- The 2018 Federal Budget featured the ‘More Choices for a Longer Life’ package of 42 measures designed to address the ageing population for the first time in a comprehensive, positive and proactive way. COTA contributed significantly to the creation and content of this package, which was not intended to be a “one-off” exercise but the beginning of a new policy relationship between the Federal Government and older Australians. We have proposed that the 2019 Budget should contain a progress report on the implementation of ‘More Choices for a Longer Life” and the next phase of similar measures – many of which are in this Submission.
- In 2017 nearly one-third of Australians aged over 65 were aged 75–84 (30%, or 1.2 million), and 13% were aged 85 and over (497,000). Those proportions will increase significantly over coming years. To assist this growing proportion of ‘older old’ we propose measures that include improving financial literacy, increasing digital inclusion and addressing elder abuse. To support this growing proportion of older Australians, we propose measures that include improving financial literacy, increasing digital inclusion and addressing elder abuse.
- According to official figures, in 2016-17 a total of 239,379 people received permanent residential aged care at any time during the year; 97,516 used a Home Care Package; and 784,927 received services under CHSP/HACC. We have outlined a number of measures to address significant issues that older people are facing in aged care. These include increasing the availability of home care packages, expediting the introduction of consumer directed residential places, and increasing social connections to address isolation and loneliness.
- A high proportion of older Australians live on fixed and low incomes and often have limited ability to afford increases in the cost of living for essentials. Recent figures indicate that close to 2.5 million older Australians are in receipt of the Age Pension; most of whom are on relatively fixed incomes. In recognition of this, we have proposed several measures to improve retirement incomes and housing for older Australians, the latter because appropriate and affordable housing is now widely recognised as one of the four pillars of an adequate retirement income.
- Many older Australians have recently contributed to a nationally representative survey undertaken by COTA, known as “State of the (Older) Nation”. These older people have shared many of their views and life experiences on employment, health, financial security, vulnerability, aged care, and housing. Approximately 32 per cent of respondents to the survey indicated that they are most concerned about health, and around 37 per cent advised that they do not have private health insurance. A third had experienced age discrimination and many plan to continue working well past pension age. In our proposed measures we urge the introduction of dental and oral health support for older Australians on low incomes or living in Residential Aged Care Facilities. This recognises the critical importance of dental and oral health to general health and wellbeing, and the often limited treatment options available to people living in Residential Aged Care Facilities. We also propose measure to tackle age discrimination and support mature age employment
To read or download our full submission, click ‘View Submission’.