Older Australians Have Spoken

Older Australians Have Spoken

Earlier this year, we launched Australia’s first election panel to engage with the issues that matter for people over 50.

We set up a panel of over 900 COTA members and others to make their voice count by providing feedback on policies and issues that are important to you. It was the first time older people had been asked in this way about the issues that affect them most and what future they’d like for Australia.

More than 620 panel members from across Australian took part in an extensive Election Panel survey to help COTA shape what it will be asking for from all political parties as we developed our election platform A new deal for older Australians

Panel members participated by:

    • completing surveys
    • providing information on issues of interest to them
    • commenting on materials produced by COTA.

And the results are in!

Here are some of the survey results we’d like to share:

Issues you care about

The most important issue affecting older Australians for the panel was ‘access to quality health services’ (72% selected it in their top 5). Many panelists commented on this issue, suggesting that quality, affordability, availability, wait times and a lack of understanding from health professionals were all issues.

  • Having adequate pensions (58%), access to aged care and quality of services (50%) and healthy ageing so older Australian can live longer (47%) were the second tier issues.
  • Management of the economy (46%) is the most important election issue for respondents and ‘Ensuring the quality of Australia’s health system‘ came in as the second most important issue that panelists decided their vote on.
  • The second tier issues identified by panelists in their voting were ‘Australian jobs and protection of local industries’ (29%), ‘ensuring a quality education for all children’ (27%), ‘political leadership’ (25%) and ‘addressing climate change’ (22%).

The word cloud below demonstrates the frequency of words used when asked what issues are most important to older people when thinking about the federal election. The larger the word the more frequently it was used in the comments.

2013 Federal Election Panel word cloud

Ageing population

  • 85% of panelists thought Australia was not prepared or not at all prepared for an ageing population.
  • The areas that panelists were most likely to indicate were in their experience impossible or very difficult to access were:
    • Dementia specific support services to enable people to remain living in their home
    • Specialist dementia aged care residential places (45%)
    • Respite for unpaid carers who look after family members at home (42%)
    • Aged care residential places close to their community or family (40%)


  • Of those panelists still working, the largest proportion (35%) indicated that they are ‘waiting to afford retirement’ (they would like to retire but cannot afford it). However there were 21% who indicated that they are still working because they enjoy the work they do.
  • 62% of those panelists that are retired indicated that they retired at the time they wanted to. However, one in three indicated that they had retired earlier than they would have liked.
  • Just over half of panelists believe that in the last two years their income has fallen behind the cost of living (54%). 40% believe it has stayed even with the cost of living.

The results will now be used to inform the COTA Election Platform, A New Deal for Older Australians.

We will be fighting to get the issues of older people on the agenda in Election 2013 and we thank you everyone who took part for helping us identify the issues which matter most.