Not enough for seniors: groups slam major parties' policies

Federal election 2019: Seniors not catered for by major parties

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BOOMER POWER: More than seven million older Australians are enrolled to vote in the 2019 federal election. Photo: Sylvia Liber

BOOMER POWER: More than seven million older Australians are enrolled to vote in the 2019 federal election. Photo: Sylvia Liber


The election is days away but the major parties are not giving seniors what they want.


WHILE more than 7.8 million over-50s are enrolled to vote, advocacy groups say neither major party is listening to what older Australians want.

Aged care, health care and pensions are the most important issues identified in a grey voter survey conducted by the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, which has accused the major parties of failing to address these key areas in their policies ahead of Saturday's election.

COTA chief executive Ian Yates described the election campaigns so far as "bitterly disappointing".

"The major parties [have been] swiping at each other about intergenerational bias rather than seeking to unite the electorate around the many real needs that are not being met," he said.

"In particular, older Australians need to be very afraid of developing a need for aged care at home over the next term of government, as this far into the campaign both parties have turned their backs on the 125,000-strong home care queue."

COTA's survey of nearly 3000 people showed action on elder abuse, access to affordable oral and dental care as well as quality palliative care are also key areas of concern.

"It is not too late for the major parties to step up and show they have been listening to the needs of all Australians, including older Australians," Mr Yates said.

While the group welcomed Labor's pledge for a pensioner dental scheme, it has also put forward a number of other recommendations that could greatly improve the quality of life for many seniors.

These include a comprehensive retirement income review that focuses on whether the age pension is adequate, increasing the maximum Commonwealth Rent Assistance allowance by 40 per cent, and putting residential aged care funding into the hands of the consumer.

Fix aged care now

National Seniors has called for both Labor and Liberal to commit extra resources to fixing problems in the aged care sector.

The group's chief advocate Ian Henschke said older Australians couldn't afford to wait for the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to be released for action.

"It appears neither party is prepared to take any major action before the royal commission hands down its findings," Mr Henschke said.

"This is deeply disappointing - not just to the hundreds of thousands of Australians needing care, but also their families. We can and must do better as a nation."

Mr Henschke said the royal commission had already uncovered "appalling evidence of aged care failure".

"The problem and the fix are obvious - 16,000 people died last year waiting for home care packages and almost 130,000 people are still on the waiting list.

"The fix is to invest the $2 billion to $2.5 billion annually in home home care packages as estimated by the health department in its submission to the royal commission."

The federal election will be held on May 18, with polls closing at 6pm.