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Fight for cheaper electricity pricing continues

By Ian Henschke

As Chief Advocate, I’m often asked direct questions about “what we are doing” on an issue. One of the hottest ones now is the high cost of electricity.

This has hit home to millions of Australians on fixed incomes because rates in several states went up by 20 per cent on 1 July.

It's also big news in the media today with both the Federal Minister and ACCC Chairman Rod Sims saying the system needs fixing and there is gaming going on re pricing.

Tighter laws could give super fund members a greater say

Super fund members could quiz senior managers at annual meetings in the same way shareholders can pose questions to directors of public companies, under legislation introduced to parliament this week.

Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer said the requirement was one of several in a package of measures following a review by the Productivity Commission last year.

Game on for older Australians

New research shows older people were the largest group of new computer and video game players in the past six years.

Forty-three per cent of over 65s now play video and computer games.

And far from being a waste of time, as some people believe, the Bond University and the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) report Digital Australia 2018 showed that games can be beneficial.

Cash is still king for many older Australians

Older Australians still prefer to use cash rather than cards, a new study shows.

The Reserve Bank’s report How Australians Pay: Evidence from the 2016 Consumer Payments Survey, released this week, found that younger people started the week with an average of $20 in their pockets, but over 65s held an average of $95.

This was more than double the amount held by the next closest age group, those aged between 50 and 64.

Regional carers struggle to find support

It will come as no surprise to many people, but a new survey has found carers in regional and rural Australia find it harder than those in the city to access many forms of support.

A total of 13,200 people took part in the University of Canberra’s 2016 Regional Wellbeing Survey. It is the first time the survey, which began in 2013, has examined the experiences of carers.

The survey is Australia’s largest into the wellbeing of people living in rural and regional areas.

The results showed those living in regional areas had fewer places to turn to for help.

Laugh your way to better health

Laughter is the best medicine, as the saying goes, but a new study has found regular laughter could be the secret to a healthier life for older people.

Researchers from Melbourne’s La Trobe University found chuckles, chanting and clapping can led to improved mood and lower blood pressure.

They studied residents from three Melbourne aged care homes, aged 61 to 96, who took part in six weekly Laughter Yoga sessions – a program involving simulated laughter exercises, deep belly breathing, chanting and clapping while seated in a circle.

SA to bulk buy from energy retailers

The South Australian government wants energy retailers to bid for contracts to supply more than 180,000 low-income households currently receiving energy concessions.

The state’s Communities and Social Inclusion Minister, Zoe Bettison, said most low-income customers were on "standing contracts" and the government could get a better deal for them if it negotiated those contracts on the households' behalf.

It hopes to have a deal in place by October.

Home care reform to continue

National Seniors is urging members to provide feedback about their experiences of home care services to inform a submission to the Federal Government.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the government had released a public discussion paper on future care at home reforms, with the deadline for submissions 21 August.

“National Seniors will be making a submission, but it’s important our members tell us how the current home care system is working – or not working – for them,” Mr Henschke said.

Head to wildflower state for seniors convention

National Seniors’ Western Australia third annual convention will be held on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 September, with a line-up of influential speakers and the theme Seniors Making a Difference.

State Governor Kerry Sanderson AC will officially open the event at Langley Hall, RAAFA Memorial Base, Bull Creek.

Other speakers will include Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt; Western Australian Minister for Seniors and Ageing Michael Murray; National Seniors CEO Dagmar Parsons; and National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke.

Super windfall about to be delivered

Australians in mainstream superannuation funds are set for a windfall, as SuperRatings has revealed that the average fund return for last financial year topped 10.4%.

As statements go out over the next few weeks, an estimated $140 billion will have been added to super accounts in investment earnings for the year, the eighth consecutive year that super funds have delivered positive returns to members. 

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