COTA is putting forward recommendations for action in the 2012-2013 Budget across eight key areas: aged support and care, ageism and age discrimination, housing, reducing the digital divide, essential services, health and income support and workforce participation.
We are urging the Government to make this the Ageing Budget which sets out the longer term vision for how Australia is going to respond to the ageing of its population. We have recommended a diverse set of recommendations, with some measures that require additional funding this year and other longer term reforms that will require different investment patterns the future.
Aged Support and Care
COTA has played a key leadership role in development of the National Aged Care Alliance’s “Blueprint for Aged Care Reform” which sets out priorities and a schedule for implementation of the Productivity Commission’s “Caring for Older Australians” report. COTA fully endorses the NACA Blueprint and its 2012/2013 Budget proposals. (Recommendations 1-12).
Ageism and Age Discrimination
A campaign to reduce deeply instilled ageist attitudes in the community is essential if we are to ensure the full citizenship of older Australians (Recommendation 13).
Inability to access affordable and appropriate housing is becoming a critical issue for many older people. There needs to be a comprehensive national approach that addresses the need for an increase in the supply of affordable and appropriate housing for older people (Recommendations 14-16).
Reducing the Digital Divide
There is growing evidence that some older people are being excluded from the digital economy. There needs to be a program of financial assistance, training and advice and support to assist older people to participate in this important part of our society (Recommendations 17-19).
Concessions on Essential Services
The price of essential services such as energy and water has been rising much faster than the general cost of living and will continue to do so. Concessions have failed to keep pace with these price rises. Indexation of concessions is needed to guarantee that concessions maintain their real value as prices increase (Recommendations 20-21).
National health reform must improve affordability and access for older people. There needs to be immediate action in the areas of oral health and preventative health (Recommendations 22-23).
The gap between pensions and allowances has widened too far, particularly for single people . We are proposing that the single allowance be set at two thirds of the married rate and that all allowances are indexed using a more appropriate indexation measure (Recommendation 24).
COTA calls for an integrated Mature Aged Employment Strategy that provides incentives for employers to adapt to an ageing workforce along with a package of income support and skills and training measures to ensure older people can acquire the skills that are required to fully participate in the labour force. We are also looking for the removal of age limits for workers’ compensation and superannuation contributions (Recommendations 25-27).
COTA is calling for a more equitable and efficient tax system with a higher tax free threshold that would reduce the need some of the current tax offsets (Recommendation 28).