It’s always good to look back over the past year and see what we’ve achieved as an organisation.
Advocacy is something that happens slowly. But when the wins come they bring important changes to people’s lives overnight.
This was the case with the announcement of a Royal Commission into aged care. We’ve been advocating on the issues of elder abuse in aged care for years. But the combination of our advocacy and a 4 Corners two part special saw the new Prime Minister Scott Morrison announce a Royal Commission last September. It’s something we’ve welcomed and have been part of since its inception.
"We called for unannounced visits to residential care homes and now that’s standard practice."
When Scott Morrison was announced as new PM he gave us another advocacy win, literally overnight. It was announced that the pension age would stay at 67 and not go to 70. I can remember doing a series of media interviews on this subject and then being rather surprised to wake up one morning to see the new prime minister saying he would not push up the pension age.
We achieved a big advocacy win relating to energy costs. On your behalf, we put submissions into a range of reviews on electricity pricing including the ACCC inquiry. The great news is we now have a regulated price for electricity.
Another big win was the energy supplement being retained for new pensioners. Although it’s a one-off $75 for pensioner singles and $125 for couples, it’s a win we can include in the last 12 months as it was announced in the last budget.
It was also a year ago that we had a multi-billion dollar win. That was the retention of the franking credits for all pensioners. This is worth, on average, around $1,300 per pensioner, per year. And we are continuing our fight to ensure fairness around franking credits for self funded retirees.
The expansion of the pension loan scheme is something that will help many people out of poverty as long as they own their own home. This is a win and one now available not just to pensioners but all homeowners. This becomes available from 1 July 2019. Contact Centrelink for more information.
Another win for pensioners is an increase in the pension work bonus scheme. This means you can earn more without losing part of the pension.
Health costs are one of seniors' top concerns and we’re pleased to say these are now being addressed by all sides of politics.
"Our call for action on specialist fees has been answered by the government with the publication of a list of fees."
Private Health premiums are also being brought under control with the latest rise being the lowest for a decade, and the opposition promising a two year freeze if it wins with no out of pocket costs for cancer patients.
Finally elder abuse has been issue we’ve always been concerned about. The recent announcement of the National Elder Abuse hotline is a great step forward. As is the whole national elder abuse plan, announced only a couple of months ago. We will continue to fight elder abuse in all its forms on your behalf.
Let’s hope this election will help win more changes to improve the lives of older Australians. You can check out our election priorities here.
A detailed list of our advocacy wins can be found here.