National Seniors Australia has given the government its vision for seniors in the new year.
It has handed the Treasurer a pre-budget submission which addresses all the issues that have been of concern to you - our members.
Among the list is addressing the high cost of specialist fees, deeming and taper rates, a scheme to get more older workers in the workforce, and one that enables older Australians to invest in green infrastructure.
National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke says the rising cost of health, especially the cost of seeing a specialist, is the number one concern among members.
“On average, a patient will be $84 out of pocket when they see a specialist, compared to around $38 for a visit to the GP,” he said.
“Older Australians by far spend the largest proportion of household income on medical expenses.”
To spark more competition among specialists, National Seniors is calling for mandatory publishing of all specialist fees.
Despite the government’s announcement of extra aged care funding, National Seniors continues to call for an end to the home care package waiting list, a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
Mr Henschke says the $496 million announced last week for extra home care packages was barely a fifth of the $2.5 billion identified in the Royal Commission to fix the problem
“Last year 16,000 people died waiting for a home care package and more than 13,000 were placed into an aged care facility when they wanted to remain in their homes.
“We know what the figure is to fix it and yet the government is still well short of the mark,” he said.
National Seniors has repeated its call for an independent tribunal to set the pension and take the politics out the arbitrary setting of deeming and taper rates.
“Successive governments on both sides have been balancing the budget on the backs of pensioners,” Mr Henschke said.
“The deeming and taper rates are too high while savings returns for pensioners are too low.
“Governments use the deeming and taper rates to get their hands in pensioners’ pockets and a pension rate set independently would put an end to the politics of the pension.”
National Seniors has innovated a way which solves two of the biggest problems facing Australians - aged care and high unemployment among the over 55s.
The aged care sector is already finding it difficult to get enough quality skilled workers and it will only become more challenging in the future.
Estimates suggest the industry’s workforce will need to quadruple by 2050 to cope with demand.
At the same time, unemployed workers over 55 make up the largest age group on Newstart.
One solution is to develop a program that trains mature job seekers to provide quality and empathetic care that is so desperately needed in aged care.
This program should meet the costs of assessing candidate suitability, provide the required qualifications and deliver on the job training.
Suitable candidates could then be matched to employers.
National Seniors is proposing an innovative way which gives safe returns for older Australians while at the same time funding green energy infrastructure.
The Snowy Hydro Green Bonds Scheme would give older Australians the opportunity to invest safely in Snowy Hydro 2.0, contributing to future energy security and lower energy prices.
“It’s win-win for investors, the government and the environment,” said Mr Henschke.
The 15-page document has been handed to the government for consideration well in advance of next May’s budget.