Australia lagging in provision of income security for older people

The 1st of October was International Day of Older Persons, and to coincide with celebrations HelpAge International released their Global AgeWatch index. The index aims to “measure and improve the quality of life and wellbeing of older people”. In doing so it highlights any areas of concern for each country, along with those in which they are successfully meeting the needs of older people.

Australia lagging in provision of income security for older people

Australia lagging in provision of income security for older people

Released: 03-Oct-2014

Event Date: to

The 1st of October was International Day of Older Persons, and to coincide with celebrations HelpAge International released their Global AgeWatch index. The index aims to “measure and improve the quality of life and wellbeing of older people”. In doing so it highlights any areas of concern for each country, along with those in which they are successfully meeting the needs of older people. The data provided in the index offers policy makers an indication of where their country has room for improvement, delivering statistics which can potentially shape debate regionally and nationally.

The index revealed that strong economic performance didn’t guarantee any flow-on effect improving quality of life and wellbeing for older people, citing evidence from India, Korea, Nigeria and Poland. Not surprisingly, Scandinavian and Western European countries with a history of progressive social welfare policies offered to all citizens over the duration of their life performed best, with quality of life and wellbeing of older people rating very high.

Currently Australia is ranked at 13th overall, performing very well in the area of health along with employment and education. Our educational attainment rate among older people is 92.4% which is high for our region, however when it comes to income security our ranking falls dramatically to 57th.

Income security takes into account pension income coverage, poverty rate in old age, relative welfare of older people (income/consumption of older people compared to rest of the population) and GDP per capita. Income security for older people in Australia is currently comparable to that of developing countries such as Bolivia (55th), Ecuador (56th) and Thailand (58th).

Given the current government’s plans for the pension this ranking should be cause for alarm. Australia has the highest old age poverty rate to be found in our region, which has been attributed to lower than average pension income coverage and relative welfare rates, a decline in public housing, increasingly high rental prices, along with difficulties for older people in finding employment. It follows that any implementation of proposed cuts to the pension will contribute to even greater numbers of older people finding themselves living in poverty.

Our ‘enabling environment’ ranking is 25th which is below average for our region. This looks at older peoples’ social connections, including support from relatives or friends; physical safety; civic freedom and access to public transport. Within this area, perception of safety and ease of access to public transport were the main areas of concern amongst older Australians.

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