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 2020/21 Federal Budget. The 2020/21 Pre-Budget submission comes at a key time for older Australians, as Australia is in the midst of a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Australian Government has commissioned its Retirement Incomes Review and the latest 5-yearly Intergenerational Report is in development for release in July 2020.
COTA Australia is committed to building a society that values the contributions of all people, including older people. Rather than seeing older Australians as a future burden, older Australians must be embraced for the contributions they can and do make. At the core of this submission is the idea that the barriers older people face to full participation in society can – and must – be eliminated. Fundamentally, we are committed to older people having choice and control over their lives, and to exercise and strengthen the rights of older people in a range of fields – including health, employment, finances, housing, energy and communications.
As demonstrated by the breadth of the portfolio areas included in this Pre-Budget submission, issues facing older Australians sit across a wide range of departments. Accordingly, COTA Australia’s key asks this election is for a Whole-of-Government Strategy for Older Australians in order to coordinate the various components of the Australian Government’s activities to enhance the lives of older Australians.
Informed by our experience in the aged care sector, as well as our ongoing interaction with the Royal Commission, COTA Australia will release an Aged Care Transformation Agenda in the first quarter of 2020. This blueprint for reforming our Aged Care system to better reflect the needs of consumers will include a range of steps Government can take now, building on reforms already being implemented or previously agreed, along with steps to be taken in the budget in order to prepare Government for the Royal Commission recommendations.
For older Australians still in the workforce, or seeking to re-enter the workforce, we have also proposed some strategies to support an older workforce, and to provide greater opportunities to develop the skills and retraining to meet the needs of a changing workforce.
Meeting the increasing cost of living proves a large challenge for many older people – particularly for those who have significant out-of-pocket healthcare, energy or communications costs, or are struggling to meet the skyrocketing costs of private rental. Proposals to increase Newstart and Commonwealth Rental Assistance are also designed to reduce poverty and safeguard against homelessness.
Finally, safeguarding human rights of older people to be free from abuse and neglect is a major priority for COTA Australia. Plans to tackle elder abuse, to enhance protections against ageism and age discrimination in all its forms.
Older people are directly or indirectly impacted by all areas of government policy. Whilst this submission does not include a complete compendium of COTA Australia’s policies, it does highlight specific priorities or initiatives that, if addressed, could eliminate those key barriers older people face. The flow-on economic and social advantages of including older people are immeasurable. More than this – it acknowledges and elevates the status of older people in all areas of community life.