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Senior consumers should have choice

15 May 2018

Seniors should have more choice about how and where they spend their dollars

More budgets! The Federal Government released their budget last week and while it was pleasing to see more emphasis on seniors – especially on aged care, we still have a long way to go towards meeting demand. The Federal government is adamant they want older Australians to stay in their homes as long as possible. However, if they are serious about this stance, it seems that they would be releasing more than 14,000 packages, with just another 6,000 to come (these being Australia-wide and over four years).

The training for seniors to adapt or change their career path was welcome news. However, while they are being trained or looking for work, they receive the Newstart allowance which equates to just $40.00.  How are senior Territorians supposed to survive on this paltry sum?

Closer to home, Territory Families’ work on the new format for the NT Concessions Scheme and the Seniors Recognition Scheme continues.  If you cast your minds back to the review of the scheme back in 2017, it was suggested that a debit card be introduced. This became a bone of contention, but was it explained properly or even understood? Isn’t it about choice as we age? With the debit card, those seniors who can’t travel or are experiencing other financial stress would have been able to use the debit card for such purchases or unexpected expenses as replacement fridges, or vet fees for their beloved pet, or even in dire circumstances for food.

Obviously, there would only be selected vendors that the card could be used with (not for example at outlets selling alcohol).  A couple recently came into COTA NT and advised that their power and water connection was in the wife’s name, so how does the partner put their $500.00 towards their joint power bill?  He can’t travel – but if they both had debit cards, they could decide to either put it towards various household items or their power and water expenses.   

COTA NT feels that the availability of a debit card for the NT Seniors Recognition Scheme would be an excellent start in allowing seniors to have choice. Once again as we age, isn’t it about lifestyle choices?

~ Sue Shearer, CEO COTA NT

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