50+ Reports

Integrity, environment, essential services the key drivers for older voters

COTA NSW’s latest 50+ report reveals that older voters in the upcoming NSW election are most likely to be influenced by integrity in government, care for the environment and funding for essential services such as hospitals, education and housing.

We conducted an online and paper survey of people over 50 and ran eight focus groups around the themes of the State government’s Ageing Strategy: health and wellbeing, work and retirement, housing, getting around and communities.

Access and affordability of specialists continues to be a key health concern among older voters (38% of respondents), particularly in regional and rural NSW and among people aged 50-59. Dental health, public hospital waiting times, appropriate exercise programs and mental health services were other main areas of concern.

The majority of respondents were retired (71%) and maintaining social engagement was a concern for many (42.5%). Most felt it is vital to prepare for the transition to retirement in a wholistic way, encompassing financial, legal and social planning.

Some participants expressed interest in remaining or returning to work in a part-time or casual capacity, for both financial and social reasons. However age discrimination was a significant issue, particularly in the 50-59 age group, as well as the effect of earning more income on the age pension.

While most respondents owned their own home (82%), homelessness and the lack of social housing were a concern for all age groups in all areas. Many expressed frustration and alarm that these issues had not been addressed more effectively and called for more investment and creative thinking.

In terms of getting around, the main issues were access to public transport (47.5%, higher in Sydney), retaining a driving licence (36.5%, higher in the regions) and well-maintained footpaths. Lack of mobility, whether it is due to lack of transport or unsafe footpaths, contributes to social isolation, particularly for those who live on their own.

Isolation continues to be a major concern, particularly in the light of COVID restrictions and the proliferation of natural disasters. Corresponding with previous COTA NSW surveys, isolation was nominated as a priority by more people in the 50-59 age group than older groups.

Although older people have increased their online skills since the pandemic, the dominance of online service delivery remains an issue. Respondents pointed out that many older people still don’t use computers and smartphones, particularly in the older age groups, and don’t necessarily have anyone to help them.

Decisions that affect older people must be based on sound information rather than assumptions. COTA NSW calls on all election candidates in NSW to consider the needs and views of people over 50, who comprise a significant percentage of the voting population.

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