Submission on A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes

COTA Australia is the peak national policy body of older Australians. Its members are the eight State and Territory Councils on the Ageing (COTA) in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory.

COTA Australia has a focus on national policy issues from the perspective of older people as citizens and consumers and seeks to promote, improve and protect the circumstances and wellbeing of all older Australians; promote and protect their interests; and promote effective responses to their needs.

COTA Australia welcomed the announcement of the welfare review as we believe the income support system needs to be reformed. It needs to reflect structural changes in the economy and labour market, changes in community expectations of the role of Government, and of what sort of society in which we want to live.

We were pleased that the review was to concentrate on working age payments and that the age pension was explicitly excluded. We understood, at the time of announcement, that the age pension would likely be the subject of a later review which would address the broader retirement income issue. This staged approach to reform would have meant that the new working age payments could articulate into the age pension and issues of how people move from one to the other could be worked out.

COTA Australia is a member of ACOSS and has been involved in discussion with ACOSS and many of its members on a response to the interim report. We join with other organisations in decrying the limited period to respond to the interim report and are disappointed that the review Reference Group declined to meet with ACOSS and some of its members to discuss our concerns.

COTA supports the positions taken in the ACOSS submission. We strongly endorse the principle that Government has an obligation to provide income support for people with little or no private income.

Our submissions highlight some issues of particular concern with regard to older people living on allowances and older Disability Support Pension recipients.