ACT Budget must boost health


It is the nation’s capital with a generally well-to-do population but when it comes to health services, Canberra and the ACT is failing its seniors.

Health is the number one concern for National Seniors ACT members who continue to be frustrated by problems such as long waiting times in the public system.

The health care system in not meeting increasing needs and that’s why we are calling on the ACT Government to fix the system and boost funding in the forthcoming territory budget, including:

  • cut waiting times for elective surgery – patients wait longer than in NSW
  • double the size of the Canberra Hospital Emergency Department to reduce waiting times – ACT is one of the poorest performers
  • substantially increase mental health support for seniors
  • directly fund social services that support an ageing population, including increased funding for senior’s day care programs.

Essential services


The cost of water and sewage is putting seniors under cost pressures. The budget should extend the $700 a year utilities subsidy to all people over Age Pension age with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

This change is justified because changes to the pension taper rate (introduced in 2017) led to some self-funded retirees having lower incomes than those with less assets. Despite having less income they do not get access to basic concessions.

Housing


ACT housing is becoming too expensive for seniors with a limited number of affordable housing options for those unable to meet the cost of the private market. In the last year, rents have increased by 3.2 per cent, well above the national increase of 0.4 per cent.

Seniors would benefit from these initiatives:

  • increase the supply of affordable and appropriate housing
  • immediately increase in crisis housing for homeless seniors
  • a more stringent inspection and certification regime to enforce new age-friendly building regulations.
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