2023-24 state budget – outcomes for older Victorians
The 2023-24 state budget was handed down by the Treasurer, Tim Pallas on 23 May 2023. In our 2023-24 pre-budget submission, we asked the Victorian Government to increase investment in a range of programs to help Victorians age well. Our specific asks were purposely limited and framed around the following four broad areas:
- Listen to older Victorians
- Meet the needs of Victorians affected by elder abuse
- Help the health system support older Victorians
- Ensure older people get the support they need
COTA Victoria and Seniors Rights Victoria are acutely aware that this budget has been delivered in an environment of harsh financial and social pressure for older people and growing demand for crucial services. These pressures have only increased since we made our pre-budget submission.
Overall, the budget does not provide the necessary range of responses for older Victorians struggling with the cost-of-living as well as longer term trends in ageing. This is not only a matter of crucial and immediate financial relief but also support that addresses the social and psychological effects of current daily life pressures.
COTA Victoria received confirmation of four-year funding commitments for our important Information and Lifelong Learning programs from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH). As well as the continuation of a further three years of funding for our Ageing Well programs. These longer-term funding commitments are highly welcomed and valued and we thank the Victorian Government for their continuing support.
The relatively small number of new initiatives specifically targeting older Victorians in the budget, and lack of clear focus on older people as an overall priority, is disappointing. This makes it all the more important for organisations such as COTA Victoria and Senior Rights Victoria to step up and work with government to support older people over the coming year and into the future.
We will continue to engage with older Victorians and energetically advocate to government about needs identified in the Ageing Well Action Plan 2022-2026. We will focus on identifying the most effective and efficient ways to provide critical supports – through both new and existing programs.
Meeting the needs of Victorians affected by elder abuse
At the time of writing my message, Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) welcomes the four-year, longer-term funding commitment from DFFH, as detailed in the Budget Paper 3 (page 47). The renewal, and continuation, of this critical funding is core to SRV’s operation as a community legal centre that acts as the only state-wide, integrated legal service focussing on the prevention of, and response to elder abuse.
This service provides information and referrals, legal advice and casework, advocacy and education on matters specifically related to elder abuse. Our state-wide Elder Abuse Helpline is an integral “front door” to the service.
Initial indications are that the required levels of core funding from DFFH may be inadequate to allow SRV to operate at the current, already stretched levels of service delivery has been reduced.
On top of funding received from DFFH, SRV receives funding from the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) through Victorian Legal Aid (VLA). At the time of writing, we’re yet to receive confirmation of critical funding for SRV from DJCS and VLA.
It’s important to note that historically, funding received does not adequately recognise or account for increased costs nor of growing demand, the blow-out of client waiting times and our inability to appropriately service the helpline and support much needed casework, legal advice, education, and advocacy.
On the 1st of June, I wrote to the Minister, and senior DFFH staff overseeing the elder abuse portfolio regarding this urgent issue.
I will distribute ongoing communiques, messages, and public statements out in the coming weeks regarding the outcome of these critical talks.
COTA Victoria & Seniors Rights Victoria