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Fix Pension Poverty


Improving the standard of living for older Australians reliant on the Age Pension.

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The issue

The Age Pension doesn’t provide enough for older Australians.

What we're calling for

An Age Pension Tribunal to independently set the Age Pension rate, an increase to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance and an expansion of basic dental care for pensioners.

The benefits

Improved standards of living for older Australians reliant on the Age Pension.

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About the issue


Key Points


  • It fails to provide a decent standard of living for approximately 1.5 million older Australians who rely on it as their main source of income.
  • More than 250,000  pensioners don’t own their own home.
  • On average, a pensioner receives only 1/3 of what is needed to pay the rent.
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The Age Pension doesn’t provide enough for older Australians so we're fighting for a fair go for those on the pension.

The cost of essentials, such as health, housing, transport and energy have increased far quicker than non-essentials and people are struggling.

Age pensioners who are renting, in particular those who are single, are the worst off. Many of these are women without superannuation or other savings. Urgent measures are required to redress the profound levels of deprivation experienced by this group of pensioners.

The Adequacy of the Age Pension in Australia.


An assessment of pensioner living standards

This report examines the adequacy of the Age Pension both qualitatively, through focus groups and town meetings, and quantitatively, through analysis of social survey data.

Our policy recommendations


Priority 1: Establish an Age Pension Tribunal to independently set the Age Pension rate

An Independent Age Pension Tribunal is the first step to a fairer retirement income system that meets the needs of all Australians. It would responsibly calculate a fair and adequate pension rate and any supplements based on need and circumstance.

Priority 2: Increase the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance

Increasing the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance will address housing poverty in Australia. The maximum rate of rent assistance should be lifted to a proportion of average rental costs in a specific region. Ideally, it should be set by the Independent Age Pension Tribunal so pensioners who rent, receive enough income to meet reasonable living costs.

Priority 3: Provide a subsidy to connect to the NBN or another appropriate internet service

Providing a subsidy to connect to the NBN or another appropriate internet service will help older people stay connected. This could be done by increasing the Centrelink Telephone Allowance, which is a component of the Pension Supplement. This could be determined by the Independent Age Pension Tribunal. Alternatively, pensioners could be offered access to a basic low-cost broadband service through the NBN, as recommended by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

Priority 4: Expand the provision of basic dental care for pensioners, including those in aged care

Dentistry is an essential component of health care, yet, the cost of basic care is largely privatised. The dental care needs of people living in aged care has been neglected as almost no access to dental care is provided in these settings. A universal dental health care scheme for older Australians, based on the Child Dental Benefits Scheme (CDBS), would provide pensioners access to an annual subsidy to help maintain their dental health and support the delivery of dental care to residents living in aged care.

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Webinar: Is the pension fair?


We hosted a webinar which included expert panelists Dr. David Knox, Dr. Deborah Ralston and Noel Whittaker and our Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke. Hear from three of Australia’s leading experts on our retirement system. We talk about the big questions: Should we have a universal pension? Why do we penalise pensioners who work? Is the pension fair.

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Show your support

Become a member

Become a member

As a not-for-profit organisation, your membership directly funds our Advocacy and Research work. It helps us fight to fix pension poverty, tackle the cost of living and health care, improve aged care and fairness in retirement income.

Plus, get access to discounts, competitions, weekly news and Our Generation magazine 4 times a year!

Donate to our advocacy campaigns

Donate to our advocacy campaigns

Your gift today can help fix pension poverty, rebuild the retirement income system and provide more home care places so that older Australians can live safely and make ends meet.

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