National Policy Council sheds light on what needs to be done into the future

This year’s COTA National Policy Council (NPC) was a great success. The State and Territory COTAs, along with COTA Australia, gathered to look at policy and advocacy successes over the last year and engage in detailed discussion of the key issues impacting older Australians into the future, the COTAs have developed a clear vision of the policy and advocacy priorities likely to dominate 2015-16.

National Policy Council sheds light on what needs to be done into the future

National Policy Council sheds light on what needs to be done into the future

Released: 22-Jul-2015

Event Date: to

This year’s COTA National Policy Council (NPC) was a great success. The State and Territory COTAs, along with COTA Australia, gathered to look at policy and advocacy successes over the last year and engage in detailed discussion of the key issues impacting older Australians into the future, the COTAs have developed a clear vision of the policy and advocacy priorities likely to dominate 2015-16.

The NPC meeting included detailed discussion of the key issues facing older Australians into 2015-16. Over the past year the COTAs have continued to advocate on behalf of older Australians and has made significant achievements in the areas of aged care, health and pensions. This includes:

  • Successfully lobbying to stop cuts to the indexation of the age pension
  • Built a broad coalition of support in the Government for an independent retirement incomes review, leading to a cabinet submission on the matter. COTA Australia has ensured that housing will be a central part of these discussions, as an inseparable part of any discussion of retirement incomes.
  • Played a central role in streamlining the Home Care and Commonwealth Support Program to make it easier for older Australians to utilise these services and as well as establishing an independent complaints service for consumers.

COTA NSW has been particularly active among the COTAs on the issue of human rights. In recent years COTA NSW has tabled the idea of developing  a rights-based framework. Such a framework would not function as a policy per se. Instead, it would make the concept of older people’s human rights more explicit and prominent, and would provide a set of framing principles that would affect the way other policies were developed and applied. NPC members supported the idea of investigating a framework draft to be presented at the next meeting. Additionally, both COTA Australia and COTA Victoria are founding members of the Global Alliance on the Rights of the Older Person and will continue to work closely with the Australian Human Rights Commission to eliminate age discrimination in all its forms.

The discussions at the NPC resulted in the identification of a number of areas that will demand increased policy and advocacy work into the future. These include:

  • Health will be increasing focus on health in 2015-16, with COTA NSW focusing on this issue in the upcoming round of consumer consultations, surveys and Pre Budget Submissions.  It also aims to take advantage of the government’s call for community submissions on how the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record can be improved. The system as it currently exists has little support from patients and clinicians and COTA is invested in developing improvements to the system that would make it more user friendly, more efficient and result in better health outcomes.
  • Mature Employment will continue to be priority.  The COTAs intend to strengthen the place of older Australians in the workforce and to support employment retention strategies that assist mature workers to access retraining and reskilling to maintain their vital role in the work force.
  • Housing: there was support for a move from voluntary to mandatory nationally consistent guidelines for the design and construction of new housing to adapt to the changing needs and abilities of people over a lifetime was identified as apriority.   

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