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COTA

COTA SA’s budget analysis - how do older people fare?

The 2018-19 State Budget addresses some important deficiencies in a range of supports and services for older people including in rural areas, according to COTA SA, the peak advocacy group representing 633,000 older South Australians. This includes:

  • $2.6m for a new adult safeguarding legislation and services with a focus on older people for the first 3 years.
  • $16 million over 4 years to bolster palliative care services including more 24 hour a day, 7 days a week community based palliative care.
  • Investments in upgrades to state government owned aged care in Strathalbyn and Kingston, both of which are overdue and critical to the safety of people who live there.
  • A range of other new investments in country health infrastructure and services – however there’s a need to unpack the detail and make sure it means increased services not lost in new governance but new funding includes $8.7m for regional hospitals, the expansion of country cancer services, $8m for an upgrade of the Emergency Department at Murray Bridge Soldiers Memorial Hospital, and of the Mt Gambier dialysis service and a new Healthy Towns program.

“We are very pleased that there will be an injection of $400,000 over 4 years to extend COTA SA’s Strength for Life program, particularly for hard to reach audiences of older people including in rural areas,” COTA SA Chief Executive Jane Mussared said.

“Strength for Life is an affordable way of returning to fitness as we age, reducing falls and therefore hospital admissions while increasing opportunities for engagement and physical activity.

“There are also some really big gaps of services sorely needed by some of our most disadvantaged older South Australians right now most, particularly housing and employment. Housing is a wait and see but there is no new money, not hint of prioritising a fast growing group of over 65s who are risk right now of homelessness,” she said.

“And the plight of unemployed and underemployed older workers is completely ignored.

“These are precursors to ageing well and without investment we will see new (and more expensive) problems emerge including homelessness, isolation, mental health issues, poor health.”

COTA SA also identify some areas that they will watch closely, including:

  • Increased Housing Trust rents – to 25% for many living in tiny homes, many of which are in poor condition. Most of the older tenants are in no position to move out because they simply can’t afford to. We will be arguing that in return the government will improve the amenity of those houses that need upgrades.
  • Abolishing bus routes that are poorly patronised. This is a real risk for older people who are often being encouraged to review their fitness to drive. It will be important that they continue to have public transport that enables them to move about their communities. We would like to see more transport not less particularly within communities. We note that the SA Public Transport Authority is tasked with investigating how to make public transport more customer friendly and efficient and will hopefully work with us to listen to what our community is saying. We welcome the potential to extend public transport services to Murray Bridge.
  • We are concerned about the closure of several Service SA Centres requiring people, particularly those who struggle to use online options, to travel across the city to access government service outlets.

Other items that may be of interest to older South Australians include:

  • Reduction in the cost of hospital car parking for visitors to long stay patients at the Royal Adelaide Hospital reduced from $65 per week to $38) and a review of car parking fees for frequent visitors to other metropolitan hospitals.
  • Some cost of living relief for people who own their own homes through the capping of Council rates and an ESL levy remission, saving $145 pa on the median value of a metropolitan residence in 2018/19. This does not apply to people already receiving the cost of living concession. Fees for volunteer screening checks when working with vulnerable groups have been abolished which, while not a large expense, does remove a real cost barrier to volunteering for older people on tight budgets.
  • Investment in some metropolitan hospitals, including the reactivation of the Repat, additional funding for cardiac and chronic disease services at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the establishment of a 12-bed acute medical unit at Noarlunga Hospital.
  • Funding for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a service for people who act as the primary carers for their grandchildren but the defunding of the Health Consumers Alliance from July 2019.

 

COTA SA is an older people's movement run by, for and with older people. COTA SA represents the aspirations, interests and rights of 633,000 older South Australians.

Further information about COTA SA can be found at www.cotasa.org.au.

For all interview requests please contact:

Silvia Knoppien - silvia@communikate.net.au | 0467 043 173
Bec Tape - rtape@communikate.net.au | 0438 806 983