Guided by our Policy Development Committee, consultation with our members, current events and enquiries, and concerns raised by older people across the state, we work on a range of issues related to the rights of older Victorians.
Victoria is facing a range of pressures – with older people bearing the cost.
While ageing is meant to be a time of opportunities, Victoria is failing to adequately support its growing ageing population, with ramifications for a large number of individuals, families and the state.
Victoria, like the rest of the country, is currently facing a range of economic and fiscal challenges:
- Energy price rises, higher inflation and increased interest rates, amongst other issues, have led to increased costs of living.
- There is a shortage of homes, which is driving rising rental costs and housing insecurity.
- An ever-growing demand for access to healthcare continues to impact health services.
Our concern is that these factors are increasingly impacting older Victorians, who are becoming more vulnerable to the rise of cost of living, are now more likely to rent, and are more likely to use the public health system. This is a concern, especially as Victoria is getting older; these trends will continue. With ageing, there is also a risk of elder abuse – we have seen a sharp and concerning increase in demand for support and services from SRV over the last 12 months.
In this environment, we must ensure that older Victorians doing it tough are not further disadvantaged by hard choices that governments may need to make, and that Victoria remains a great place to age well.
We need to change our approach for older Victorians.
In its 2023/24 Budget, the Victorian Government funded a range of initiatives that will help older people. This is welcome – but not enough.
While recent State Budgets have offered funding for some initiatives related to older people, they have not prioritised the wider needs of older Victorians. They have failed to offer a coherent set of solutions to the emerging challenges of an ageing society – including significant shifts in expectations of what it means to participate socially, economically and culturally as we age.
We call on the Victorian Government to use the 2024/25 Budget to start to more proactively respond to this gap and reset the way the needs of older Victorians are recognised and addressed.
This prioritisation needs to go beyond the immediate concerns we have identified – the Victorian Government needs to explicitly target, and resource older people’s needs in priority strategies across portfolios including housing, infrastructure, transport and energy, as well as in relation to gender equality, volunteering and carers.
There are solutions that are within our grasp.
We have identified five key areas where targeted investment and changes can improve ageing in Victoria and deliver real-world benefits. These pillars are:
- An informed plan for older Victorians.
- Expanding our integrated response to elder abuse.
- Improving the health and wellbeing of older Victorians.
- Addressing housing and cost of living issues for older Victorians.
- Increasing opportunities for economic participation.
Several of these funding proposals relate to programs that are already in place and just need ongoing support or expansion to fully deliver on their potential value and return on investment for government and the community.
We need a positive ageing agenda that will support older Victorians to live the lives they want – which will deliver benefits for them, and a community dividend for Victoria. COTA Victoria calls on the Victorian Government to commit to and implement our five current priorities for action in the 2024/25 Victorian State Budget, or earlier. These selective proposals should help enable older people to:
- Age well in the community, including supporting housing security and economic participation.
- Improve their interactions with the health system, with a greater emphasis on out-of-hospital care.
- Improving the targeting, and effectiveness, of existing incentives and initiatives.
Investment in these initiatives would be a modest start to a renewed commitment to Victoria’s seniors, better valuing the contribution they make and reassessing the support they need and deserve. Ultimately, this will reap rewards for all Victorians.