Making SA’s ageing population an economic asset

Media Release - 21st January 2016

South Australia could become the nation's testing ground for improved aged care products and services designed to better meet the needs of the over 60s, under a proposal in COTA SA's 2016-17 State Budget submission.

COTA SA makes 18 recommendations to improve the health, housing and employment options available to the state's older population.

Among them is a "Living Laboratories" proposal in which SA would become the hub for a new centre of excellence to identify, design and test new products and services for national and international markets - in partnership with older people.

The report says everyday products and services often fail to meet the specific needs of older people, despite their significant buying power.

"Older People continually encounter fundamental errors in assumptions about them as a market and many would be happy to help design products and services which more appropriately suit their needs," the report reveals.

"The social, economic and ageing demographic of South Australia makes it an ideal place to establish a living laboratory to test products and support a consumer-centric and commercially savvy approach to ageing related innovation, research and development."

COTA SA's Budget submission also warns that a housing crisis is looming, with housing insecurity and potential homelessness posing a real risk for a growing portion of older people particularly single women, Aboriginal people and recently arrived migrants and refugees.

It recommends reviewing the accommodation available to older people to ensure they can access affordable housing and remain in their communities.

COTA SA CEO Jane Mussared says the number of older people who have paid off their home has steadily declined, and it is estimated the number of over-65s in rental accommodation will more than double nationally, from 232,600 in 2008 to over 500,000 by 2028.

"Public housing stocks in SA have almost halved since the 1990s and, combined with a change in the way they are allocated, that has resulted in more older people entering the private rental market," Ms Mussared said.

"That brings real dangers of over-65s experiencing housing stress, where housing costs will consume 40% of household income, compared to only 4% for home owners, along with isolation and poor access to services."

The report also recommends reviewing the $8,500 Senior Housing Grant for new builds to allow older people to modify their existing home so they can continue to age in place.

Other COTA SA recommendations include:

  • Funding for a pilot project to test alternative approaches to older people managing their health, called People Powered Health 
  • Legislative reform to enable a consistent and coordinated response to the abuse and harm of older people 
  • Ongoing funding for the Elder Abuse Prevention phone line currently being trialled in SA 
  • Assisting older people to stay in the workforce by helping them re-skill, increasing flexible employment options such as job sharing, and further funding to help COTA SA promote the business case for mature employment 
  • Incentives to help older people on low incomes to install solar panels

COTA SA supports the State Government's economic priorities, and the recommendations outlined in the report seek to benefit older South Australians in a way that supports industry and profits the rest of the South Australian community.

View COTA SA's submission to the 2016-17 State Budget

COTA SA is the peak body representing the rights, needs and interests of older Australians, with 17,000 individual members and 250 organisation members.

For all interview requests, please contact:
Bec Tape - rtape@communikate.net.au|0438 806 983
Amber Thompson - amber@communikate.net.au | 0400 324 220

Download a copy of the media release