A snapshot of COTA NSW in 2017
Housing continues to remain a hot topic in Australia, and one that is not just relevant to younger people, but older people as well. Over the last few months COTA NSW has been focusing on the impact of housing affordability and housing options for older people in NSW by conducting community consultations through our Consumer Reference Groups and preparing two formal submissions that we hope will impact future housing policies in NSW. The formal submissions were made to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and the Greater Sydney Commission and relate to social and affordable housing. To read these submissions, click here.
Our Consumer Reference Groups have been carried out in Fairfield, Sydney, Wyong, Shellhabour, Lismore and Batemans Bay. These meetings provide an invaluable opportunity for us to engage with local communities from around NSW and ask questions about older people's experiences with housing stress, whether they have considered downsizing, whether they would stay in their current homes after retirement, and learn about other issues that are important to them.
To delve further into this topic, the COTA NSW 2017 Annual Consumer Survey will be focusing on housing issues. This survey is scheduled to be released in October this year. The results from last year's consumer survey on How you spend your time and money are also set to be launched in this year's 50+ Plus Report on the 10th August 2017 at NSW Parliament House. With over 6000 responses to the survey, this report will give insight into the choices and barriers-to-choice faced by older Australians in NSW today.
Over the last 12 years, Peer Education has been a constant at COTA NSW and 2017 has been no different. This year, our volunteer Peer Educators have been presenting information sessions to community groups throughout NSW on the topic titled Your Wellbeing, Your Plan. These sessions encourage participants to think further about what wellbeing means to them in the social, body, and mind areas of life and facilitate discussions about goal setting and how small positive changes could be introduced in their day-to-day activities. This topic has been very successful and has shown that everyone benefits from taking some time to reflect on their relationship with their wellbeing. A new education topic will be beginning later this year, so keep your eye out for more information coming soon.
What does the 2017 Budget mean for older Australians?
The Government's May 2017 Budget revealed some small benefits for older Australians:
- One positive outcome affects the 92,000 pensioners who lost their Pension Concession Card (PCC) as a result of the January 2017 re-balancing on the asset threshold test. The May Budget included an announcement that will see the PCC reinstated for those who lost it under the changes earlier this year. Centrelink will send out new cards to all previous cardholders by post starting in October this year. Go to our website for to see further updates on the reinstatement process as they are announced.
- A special one-off payment to welfare recipients to help with the surge in winter power costs is also welcome. Singles will receive a $75 electricity rebate, and couples $125.
- To encourage those over the age of 65 to downsize, the Budget has allowed for up to $300,000 from the sale of the home to be directed into superannuation as a voluntary contribution. While benefiting some, this scheme could potentially impact lower-wealth retirees who might have their pension payments reduced.
The Assisted Dying Bill consultation is now open. What does this mean and what is next?
Having the legal right to end your life with medical assistance is an important issue that we need to talk more about. On 16th May 2017, a consultation draft was released in NSW for the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017. This bill has been developed over the last two years after an extensive period of consultation by a cross-party working group of NSW MPs, and aims to provide a legislative framework for the rights of terminally ill persons to request and receive assistance to end their lives voluntarily. The strict criteria that have been established act as key safeguards in the process and form the central tenets of the draft bill.
From our 2013 Parliamentary Forum, "Let's talk about dying", this is a conversation that COTA NSW has continued to encourage, and we welcome the release of this bill. The bill is set to be debated in the Spring session of NSW Parliament. A copy of the draft bill and more details on the criteria can be found here
NSW Minister for Ageing, Tanya Davies, visits COTA NSW and the NSW Ageing Alliance
On May 18th 2017, NSW Minister for Ageing Tanya Davies visited the COTA NSW offices to attend a meeting of the NSW Ageing Alliance.
The NSW Ageing Alliance consists of 26 organisations that operate throughout NSW that promote the needs, rights and interests of all people aged 50 years and over. We are currently collaborating on the six key policy areas of: a national ageing strategy; housing affordability; income security; aged care reform; elder abuse; and Medicare and health care.
For more information about the members of the NSW Ageing Alliance, click here.