Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria and Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) have welcomed the federal budget, which last night delivered vital cost of living support for older Victorians and will deliver immediate benefits as we enter a challenging winter period.
The Commonwealth Government announced key initiatives to support older people, including a historic $11.3B investment in aged care, but the big news for older Victorians is the range of support provided to help pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health card holders to reduce cost of living pressures.
“Older Victorians have had to face rising pressures in recent months, including escalating energy prices, COVID cases and inflation,” said COTA Victoria and SRV CEO, Chris Potaris. “This is a much-needed budget that will help to alleviate these concerns and issues we are seeing in the community. These are such crucial supports to ensure that older people can age well outside of aged care, capturing the diverse range of issues impacting senior Victorians.”
The announced support includes:
- Energy relief of up to $500 per year,
- $15 a week more rent assistance,
- $20 a week more in JobSeeker payments, with an additional $46 more a week in JobSeeker for those 55+ or battling ageism when looking for a job for more than 9 months, and
- Cheaper medicines, as well as tripling the incentive payment to GPs to increase bulk billing.
“This is a holistic budget that delivers financial relief for older people that can have a real impact on their lives,” Mr Potaris continued. “For instance, as cost of living pressures have increased over the last year, we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for our elder abuse support services at SRV, Victoria’s only state-wide elder abuse-focused Community Legal Centre. SRV are continuing to see a concerning spike in calls to our Helpline and the waiting times for assistance is blowing out at an alarming rate.
“We are hopeful that these supports can help address some of the factors and issues that are enabling elder abuse to continue in the community. But to do that, we need to make sure these supports reach people – and that is what we believe we can help with.”
Together with partners across the sector, COTA Victoria and SRV will shortly launch a new campaign called Older Not Alone. It will support awareness of available community resources and supports for older Victorians as we enter a tough winter period. Further details of the initiative will be announced soon.
“We have access to data which highlights that older Victorians continue to face increasing pressures around their finances, healthcare access and housing in the past year,” Mr Potaris continued.
“While this federal budget has provided much-needed help, we now need the Victorian Government to make sure its forthcoming state budget builds upon this.
“We know a lot of great state support is already out there, which we welcome, but we cannot rest on our laurels in the current environment. Older Victorians are under pressure, and in many instances, they are suffering.”
In a pre-budget submission for the Victorian State Budget 2023-2024, COTA Victoria and SRV called for increased support to make sure the state is meeting the needs for older Victorians, including increased funding to address elder abuse, developing an older person lived experience engagement framework and funding the creation of an Older Victorian Health and Wellbeing Action Plan.
COTA Victoria looks forward to the Victorian state budget on 23 May 2023 and will continue to advocate to protect the interests of older Victorians in the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
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COTA Victoria is the leading not-for-profit organisation representing the interests and rights of people aged over 50 in Victoria. For over 70 years, we have led government, corporate and community thinking about the positive aspects of ageing in the state.
Today, our focus is on promoting opportunities for and protecting the legal rights of people 50+. We value ageing and embrace its opportunities for personal growth, contribution, and self-expression. This belief drives benefits to the nation and its states alongside communities, families, and individuals. Visit the COTA Victoria website.
Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) is a program of COTA Victoria and the key state-wide service dedicated to advancing the rights of older people and the early intervention into, or prevention of, elder abuse in our community.
SRV has a team of experienced advocates, lawyers, and social workers who provide free information, advice, referral, legal advice, legal casework, and support to older people who are either at risk of or are experiencing elder abuse. SRV supports and empowers older people through the provision of legal advice directly to the older person. Visit the Seniors Rights Victoria website.
Chris Potaris has over 25+ years of CEO-level experience in over eight industry sectors, and has chaired and sat on numerous boards, regional and community-based entities that included small, medium, and larger not-for-profits.
Chris has been founder and Chair of a Social Justice Coalition in Melbourne’s west, an Integrated Justice Precinct Advisory Group informing the State Government on the urgent need for integrated justice services, and a criminal prosecutor for over 13 years.