As we reflect on another challenging year, COTA Victoria policy and advocacy staff are expressing their gratitude to the many volunteers and other older people who have shaped our policy direction in 2021.
Because of our volunteers, we’ve been able to capture the views of a diverse range of older people in many ways: at open and invite-only events; in focus groups with our peer educators and OM:NI members; at Policy Development Committee meetings; in surveys; and over the phone. The policy team also builds specialist knowledge by working with other parts of COTA Victoria and external organisations.
Our recently released prebudget submission, ‘Investing in Senior Victorians’, showcases the priorities identified by older people:
- enhancing social wellbeing and community connection
- improving the health and mobility of older Victorians
- assisting older Victorians to get where they need to go
- improving digital inclusion and access to information
- expanding opportunities for older people to participate in the workforce
- supporting people who have experienced or are at risk of elder abuse.
During 2021, we also addressed related issues such as aged care and the role of the Victorian Government; emerging from the pandemic into community; end of life preparedness, rights and support; equal access to assistive technology; digital health; fair energy access, and ageism.
Volunteers didn’t just have input into our policy direction: many of them also represented the views and lived experiences of older people on behalf of COTA Victoria in meetings with government departments, companies, organisations, peak bodies and consultants.
Policy Advocate volunteer and retired financial counsellor Anita Smith embraced the opportunity to get more active with COTA Victoria in 2021, despite the challenges of online meetings. The upside was that not having to commute meant more of Anita’s time went to consulting with older people and attending meetings. And she was able to stay involved, even when she had health issues.
‘I promised I would not rampage around on issues when I retired, but seeing some older people struggling with the ever-changing and complex issues has led me to keep on being an advocate for them,’ Anita said.
‘Through my volunteering with COTA Victoria, I’ve become more aware of the challenges older people face and the need for government and companies to consult more with older people directly, not just agencies. Sometimes, it is just simply being able to tell someone how to do something or where to go for assistance.’