COTA SA calls for State Government to help rewrite the script for modern ageing

Media Release 7th February 2017

COTA SA is calling on the State Government to help rewrite the script when it comes to ageing in South Australia by using the 2017-18 State Budget to fund initiatives that enable older people to be key influencers of service design, research and innovation.

The peak body, which represents the aspirations, interests and rights of 590,000 older South Australians, has delivered the State Government 23 key recommendations as part of its State Budget Submission.

The COTA SA submission advocates for older people to be partners in their own health; for accessible and affordable housing and transport; for support for older people to become more tech savvy; for a focus on rural SA; for initiatives that tackle cost of living pressures; and for strategies to end ageism and elder abuse.

COTA SA CEO Jane Mussared says the State Government has the opportunity to fund initiatives that reflect modern ageing in all its diversity.

"We want to see living laboratories get off the ground and, with them, plenty of opportunities for older people all over the state to play a central and defining role," Ms Mussared said.

"We are getting a very clear message from older South Australians that being part of an occasional conversation is simply not enough. They want to be much more involved in defining the challenges and developing the solutions.

"People want to play their part in their communities, to be at the table and to exercise influence as active participants and partners - and our recommendations are practical initiatives designed to achieve just that," she said.

Ms Mussared says older people are central to the economic and social future of our state.

"Involving older people in the design and delivery of products and services that impact them is a critical ingredient in enabling the South Australian community, and our economy, to flourish," she said.

"It's also particularly important as South Australia develops its credentials as the hub of a thriving ageing well industry, leading technology, product and service development for older people."

The COTA SA 2017-18 State Budget Submission also recommends:

• Living Labs - Funding for COTA SA to create an "active participant community" as part of a Living Laboratory Network. This would involve working in partnership with older people to develop products and services that support modern older lives.
• Elder protection - A commitment to legislative reform and services that enables a consistent, coordinated response to prevent and respond to the abuse and harm of older people in vulnerable situations, together with the roll out of a national framework on elder abuse which is embedded in a human rights based approach.
• Advance Care Directives - A campaign to increase the understanding, active completion and use of Advance Care Directives.
• Health - A commitment to the redesign of health services in partnership with older people particularly, improving continuity of care, health care coordination and alternatives to hospital.
• Housing - Exploration and funding for new models of accessible and affordable housing, particularly for older women, together with the funding of a trial housing support service for older people.
• Digital inclusion - Working with industry to conduct research on the barriers to digital inclusion for a large number of older people, which impacts on their ability to access important services and information, and can lead to social isolation. The report also recommends expanding the Tech Savvy Seniors Program into SA, which has proven successful interstate.
• Transport - Provision of greater freedom and mobility through an extension of transport concessions beyond off-peak times and improved passenger transport options in rural areas.
• Employment - Initiatives to tackle age discrimination in the workplace and support career planning, up-skilling and retraining for older workers.
• Cost of power - The need to address the rising cost of living, particularly for older people by installing solar panels in all social housing and offer incentives and direct funding to those on low incomes to install solar panels.
• Ageism - Funding for activities that counter ageism and create new opportunities for older people, such as the Every Generation Festival.
• Rural and regional communities - Increased core funding to COTA SA to enable capacity building and advocacy with and by older people living in rural SA, particularly in those areas experiencing financial downturn.
• Volunteering - Address barriers to participation of older people in volunteering roles through training and education of organisations, while developing skills in new and emerging roles .

"We need to knock down the very considerable barriers that stop older people taking part on equal terms with other generations in the everyday life of the South Australian community - and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the State Government to make this happen," Ms Mussared said.

COTA SA supports the State Government's economic priorities and acknowledges the leadership provided by the Economic Development Board.

COTA SA is an older people's movement run by, for and with older people. COTA SA represents the aspirations, interests and rights of 590,000 older South Australians, with 17,000 individual members and 250 organisation members. In 2017 COTA SA turns 60.

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

Download a copy of the media release (pdf)

Download a copy of the budget submission (pdf)