COTA SA welcomes overdue focus on mental health for older people and boost for innovation in modern ageing

Media Release 22nd June 2017

COTA SA has applauded two important announcements in today's budget - the $14.6m allocation to build a new dementia and mental health facility for older people and the $11.4 million investment in SA's Ageing Well sector.

COTA SA CEO Jane Mussared says the injection of funding for a new mental health facility for older South Australians with severe dementia and mental health issues was a must-do following Oakden.

"Vulnerable older people and their families deserve nothing less than quality, state of the art facilities and models of care," Ms Mussared said.

COTA SA also welcomes the investment in the South Australian Ageing Well Living Laboratory, which will see SA become an important hub for innovation in ageing.

"Living Labs" offer older people an opportunity to be influential in the design of technology, services and products that support modern ageing, while providing industry and researchers with a valuable test and experimentation platform through direct access to end-users.

As the peak body representing the 590,000-plus South Australians aged over 60, COTA SA expects a portion of the funding to flow towards the building and fostering of a diverse group of older people willing and ready to be ‘plugged in' to research and innovation about technology, services and products that support modern ageing.

Ms Mussared says this announcement is a significant step forward in South Australia becoming a global leader in "ageing well" innovation.

"With one in four South Australians predicted to be aged 65+ by 2031, it's important we involve older people to counteract the errors and assumptions made regarding the needs of this market," she said.

"Too often everyday products and services are being designed and launched in isolation, without any - or very limited - input by the end-users during the process. We must overturn ageism and stop guessing what might help older people to live well.

"Older people tell us they want to be part of the design process, but not by simply testing someone else's solution to a problem they didn't know they had, but in helping to define the problems to be solved.

"This will lead to new and improved products and services that support future ageing and support business to grow and prosper, while importantly providing meaningful and genuine opportunities for older people to influence their future.

"We are also interested to hear more detail about the shared equity initiative to address the housing needs of older women," Ms Mussared said.

Beyond these positive measures, Ms Mussared says there were some missed opportunities in the budget when it comes to supporting older people with the rising living costs and discrimination in the workplace.

"While we acknowledge that the cost of living concessions have been indexed by CPI for the first time, it doesn't go far enough to ease the burden of the large number of older people who are struggling financially to keep up with the rising cost of living," she said.

"We also look forward to continuing to work with the State Government to find suitable measures to address the issue of age discrimination in the workplace and the cost of living."

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 with CEO Jane Mussared contact:
Bec Tape - rtape@communikate.net.au | 0438 806 983

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