Page 1

THE

VOICE

OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW Print Post Approved PP235387100064

ISSN 10353615

February 2013

The ever diminishing council

rate rebate

INSIDE: Aged care residents missing out - on staff, medical care and air con Abuse helpline to be run by aged care provider Transport a barrier to health, particularly in rural areas 1

ENOUGH is enough! The Council Rate Rebate to assist pensioners to pay their Council rates has not increased at all since it was introduced in 1993. That’s 20 years at the same fixed rate, while council rates have gone through the roof. Over this time it has lost nearly 60 per cent of its value in real terms – and even more in some council areas. While the rebate started out covering about half of a typical NSW council rate,

February 2013

these days it’s become almost a token rebate that doesn’t provide a buffer against skyrocketing rates. CPSA does not need to tell readers that an overhaul of the payment is long overdue. It’s a no-brainer. But we do need to keep telling the NSW Government because they just don’t seem to get it. And we’d like your help. It appears that the NSW Government needs more than a little prompting to see the

light, so CPSA has launched a petition calling for an increase to the Council Rate Rebate, and setting it as a percentage of council rates: as rates go up, the rebate goes up. Given that there has been recognition from the Government about the need to keep older people in their homes and within their communities, and that owning your own home is an important factor in being able to survive on the meagre Continued page 7

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Letters CPSA Executive (as at 2.11.2012)

Grace Selway OAM CPSA President Bob Jay CPSA Secretary Betty Chamberlain CPSA Treasurer Bill Holland CPSA Snr Vice President Assistant Treasurer Janet Coxon CPSA Vice President Sue Latimer Assistant Secretary Shirley Bains George Ray Margaret Craven-Scott Jim Grainda Colin Vernon Barbara Wright

THE VOICE

OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW

Phone: 1800 451 488 Fax: (02) 9281 9716 Email: voice@cpsa.org.au Production: Amelia Christie, Charmaine Crowe & Paul Versteege Printer: MPD, Unit E1, 46-62 Maddox Street, Alexandria NSW 2015

Letters are personal views only and do not necessarily reflect CPSA policy. Ed.

Government and Opposition both say no increase to GST THANK you, CPSA, for your letters directed to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister concerning the goods and services tax (GST). The Government appreciates hearing community views and I thank you for the time you have taken to write concerning this issue. The GST has applied broadly to goods and services since its introduction by the previous Government. The GST is set at a single uniform rate of 10 per cent and replaced a number of Commonwealth, State and Territory taxes. A limited number of exemptions apply in areas such as basic food, education and medical services. Revenue from the GST goes to the States and

Territories and provides them with a secure source of funding to assist them in providing essential services. As such, changes to the rate or base of the GST require the unanimous agreement of the State and Territory Governments. The Government has stated on a number of occasions that it does not intend to increase the base or rate of the GST, noting the impact this would have on the cost of living for those on low incomes. The Hon. David Bradbury, MP Assistant Treasurer

Council Rate Rebate must go up

THE REBATE on council rates appears not to have been reviewed since its introduction. Is this correct? In 1996 I reached pension age and my wife and I were allotted a rebate of $250. I am now 82 years of age and we have never had an increase in the rebate we receive. The rebate in 1996 was 29.6 per cent of our rate of $844.36 but is now a paltry 16.7 per cent of our rates that I AM happy to give an are now $1497. assurance to CPSA that the The system is very Coalition will not support an discriminatory, unfair and increase in the current 10 per extremely un-Australian. cent GST rate or an increase Local Councils and others in the scope of GST to include may not be aware that those items such as medicines and of us on a full pension have food, in this Parliament or very little assets (that’s the next. why we get a full pension!) The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP compared to those on a part Leader of the Opposition pension.

Donations, Bequests, Membership and THE VOICE subscriptions

All content prepared by the editorial and production team with reference to stories on AAP newswire, unless indicated.

Membership is open to all who support the aims and objectives of CPSA

THE VOICE CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010

Disclaimer

I’d like to renew my Membership or join CPSA as a Member and enclose my individual

Membership fee of $12 (Includes a free annual subscription to THE VOICE, valued at $25.00). I agree to be bound by the CPSA Constitution and uphold the Objectives and Policies of CPSA. I support the CPSA Objectives. I have not previously been expelled from CPSA or, if I have been expelled, I have attached a copy of my CPSA Executive exemption. Please send me information about my nearest Branch. I do not wish to join CPSA but would like to subscribe to THE VOICE (1 year—$25.00 incl. GST).

I belong to an organisation and would like information about how we can become a Branch or an Affiliate of CPSA. (NB: Branches are covered by CPSA’s $10 million Public Liability Insurance).

No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information contained in advertisements or text supplied by other organisations or individuals and/or typographical errors.

I wish to make a bequest to CPSA in my Will. Please send me information. Name:_____________________________________________________________________________ Address:___________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________State:_____________Postcode:__________ Phone: ______________________________Email:_________________________________________

CPSA does not support or promote the products or views in paid advertising.

Payment details (for credit card): Visa Mastercard Name on card:__________________________Card Number:___________________Expiry:_________ Amount:______________________ Signature:_____________________________________________ Please send to: CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

2

I wish to make a donation of $______ (All donations above $2 are tax deductible). Please send me information about THE VOICE gift subscriptions.

February 2013

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Letters Council’s only request to attain a rebate is to produce a valid pension card and that card is insufficient to denote the difference in income and assets between full and part pensioners. As a full pension recipient I am prepared to disclose all my financial statements to my Local Council to prove my status and I request an increase in the Council Rate Rebate to 50 per cent to allow pensioners to get a fair go. It’s that simple. Noel Leaudais Kyeemagh NSW No improvements in aged care READING the article ‘Elite nursing home under investigation’ in the Sun Herald on 11 November 2012 saddened me and brought back to the surface a realisation that there have been no improvements in aged care. I worked for an ‘elite’ aged care facility for a number of years and had to leave after lodging a complaint with the Aged Care Complaints Scheme which advised me that they would investigate my claim but that I would not be told of the outcome. My complaint was about abuse by staff members of a resident. When the investigation team go into the facility this time, I hope they don’t just tick the boxes. The team needs to know the mentality that governs nursing homes and that they will not be met with the truth. Those residents deserve the best. They certainly pay enough. Malnourishment was also raised in my complaint. Dinner was between 5pm and 5.30pm and at 5.30pm February 2013

exactly feeding was stopped and they started putting people to bed immediately, regardless of whether or not their food had been finished. This is easy to do as it was a dementia wing. Costs were also cut with food, with options and presentation rapidly downgraded but complaints were met with no change and a don’t-care attitude. I have no idea what menus are in place now. It really was all about bums on beds and the almighty dollar. Horrible things happened there to vulnerable frail folk who cannot protect themselves. It’s difficult to prove these things and even with proof you can be made to feel that you are at fault. There are serious problems in that nursing home and I hope that the Complaints Scheme investigation will change things. I will always have memories of some amazing, beautiful people I met there but it will be overshadowed by a cruelty to the elderly that I had never encountered before. Name & address supplied Power bills through the roof and no explanation from electricity provider THERE was an article published in the Daily Liberal in November 2012 titled ‘Power bills rise in unison with company profits’ which was most enlightening. This may be the reason that our power bill rose to nearly $900 when there are only my brother and myself living here (and I was away for three weeks of the billing period). My complaint is that my electricity company can www.cpsa.org.au

shed no light as to where this power has been used. I contacted the company and got no result. I was told to get an electrician to check the output of our solar. This was done and they were deemed okay. The other suggestion was that we have the panels cleaned which we did. A second electrician for an independent opinion could shed no light on this either. All of this cost money with no result. I contacted NSW Fair Trading which referred me to the Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWON). Following this I was contacted by phone by a patronising person who suggested that we must have used this power overnight. We have solar power and solar hot water, no electric blankets and the only electricity used overnight is a refrigerator, a tuckerbox freezer and three clock radios. We retire at about 9 or 10pm each night. We have a reverse cycle air conditioner and we are extremely economical when using this. It was a cold winter and we expected a higher bill than usual, but not this high. The bill has been paid but I was incredibly angered by the suggestion that we should go to charities for help. I have heard from others who have also been told by their power companies to go

to charities. Why can’t any company come to our homes and tell us where we have used this power? I see red when I think of all the volunteers giving their free time to organisations like Vinnies, the Red Cross and Salvation Army while these greedy companies make huge profits and then direct people to charities. Joan Teale Dubbo NSW Deeming rates not keeping up THE ONE thing that banks do pass on in full whenever the Reserve Bank cuts interest rates is a reduction in the interest paid on savings and investments. Is it not high time that the deeming rate, which has not been adjusted since March 2010, is also lowered? Although the Australian Government has ditched its ambition of delivering a surplus, it continues to unfairly slug the most disadvantaged in our community, i.e. sole parents and pensioners. We think a campaign to this effect is overdue. John Wood & Ingeborg Fina Bolton Point NSW

Send a letter to THE VOICE THE VOICE, CPSA Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010

voice@cpsa.org.au

You must include your name and suburb/town for the letter to be published, though these may be omitted in publication if the letter contains personal information. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. 1800 451 488

3


Members’ page CPSA Merchandise

Badges Membership : pin or magnet Title Bar* + pendant Title Bar* Pendant (*except Welfare Officer Asst Soc. Sec.) Cards Membership card Waratah card

$4.50 $9.00 $5.00 $4.00 $10.15 $16.15 $0.10 $1.00

Card wallet $3.30 Certificate (80/90 years/Appreciation) $1.10 Emergency medical information book $2.00 Leather key ring $5.50 Letter opener: silver $10.00 Do Not Knock Sticker FREE for individuals* Tea caddy spoon $4.40 Please add postage to all items. *A small fee may apply to bulk orders. Condition of CPSA Membership According to the NSW Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (Schedule 1, clause 11(1)(a) and Appendix 1 based on Clause 3(1)), it is a condition of your ongoing CPSA membership that you agree to comply with CPSA’s Constitution including Aims & Objectives. If you have any questions or would like a copy of the Constitution, please call Head Office on 1800 451 488. Head Office News Head Office News is sent to all Branch Secretaries, Presidents and Treasurers with the instruction to read it aloud to the Branch meeting. Every Branch Member is also entitled to receive a copy. If you would like a copy, please call Head Office on 1800 451 488.

CROSSWORD Across 1. Fascinatingly 8. Aromatic 9. Cancels 10. Kind human beings (4,6) 11. Revolt 12. Verve 14. Foolhardy 17. Poisonous evergreen 20. Taste 23. Burden 24. Grab a weapon (4,1,5) 25. Vocation 26. Sustain 27. Replied suitably (8,5)

Donations

CPSA Constitution

CPSA is grateful for all donations. Due to lack of space, the following only includes donations above $35 received since the last edition of THE VOICE:

THE CPSA Constitution with updates from the 2011 AGM is available on our website. Visit www.cpsa. org.au and click ‘About Us’.

Anonymous $88 Byrne, C. $50 Choate, Mary $38 Conyngham, B. $50 Cooma CPSA $82.80 DBR Certification $150 Dubbo/Orana CPSA $100 Elmiger, E. $40 Gunnedah CPSA $50 Gwandalan CPSA $137 Hage, M. $100 Heard, R. $38 Lenton, P. $200 Lithgow CPSA $43.20 McFadyen, R. $40 Mitchell, M. $88 Morrison, D. $38 Retired Port Workers Sydney $350 Steilberg, M. $50 Vladyka, V. $50 Waring, S. $50

If you would like a prinited copy call Head Office on 1800 451 488. THE e-VOICE is available on the internet. Visit our website, www. cpsa.org.au, and sign up at THE VOICE - Subscribe Calling CPSA CPSA office hours are 9am – 4pm Monday – Friday. Outside of these hours, and when all lines are busy, calls are answered by the CPSA answering machine. If you reach the answering machine, please leave a clear message with your phone number, so your call can be returned.

CPSA Branch welcoming Members The Foveaux Street Branch meets to discuss CPSA policy and campaigns at 10.15am on the second Friday of the month at CPSA Head Office. If you are interested in participating, please call CPSA on 1800 451 488.

by Hilda Thorburn

Down 1. Inside 2. Loud rumbling 3. Mirrored 4. Art of painting oneself 5. Angry 6. Military rank 7. Discolours 13. Filled pastry 15. Killjoy 16. Extrasensory perception 18. Flowering shrub, weed 19. Ulcer 21. Slender turret 22. Haughtiest 24. Eat to excess

Answers on back page 4

February 2013

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


Members’ page CPSA - who we are CPSA was founded in 1931 in response to pension cuts. CPSA is a non-profit, non-party-political membership association which serves pensioners of all ages, superannuants and low-income retirees. The aim of CPSA is to improve the standard of living and well-being of its Members and constituents. Interest Free Loans The No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS®) is a not-for-profit community-based program that provides small no interest, no fee loans to households in need of essential household items such as appliances, furniture and medical equipment. If you would like more information on accessing a NILS loan, call the NILS® Hotline on 1800 509 994. Have your say on the NDIS The Australian Government is calling for people to provide their input into the draft National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) legislation. The NDIS should transform the way in which disability services are delivered in Australia, taking a person-centred approach to providing care and support to people with disabilities. An NDIS Advisory Group has been set up to help steer the development of the Scheme. Over the next few months, the NDIS Advisory Group will be asking questions about the design of the scheme and seeking feedback from people with disabilities, their carers and support organisations about their experiences and support needs. To register to be a part of this process visit yoursay.ndis.gov.au

Barbara McGuiggan and Elain Coid were presented with their CPSA Life Memberships by The Hon. Ann Sudmalis, MP, Member for Gilmore, at the Callala Bay and Friends Christmas party on 10 December 2012. Older Driver Taskforce Update The NSW Older Driver Taskforce has all but concluded its work. CPSA is represented on the Taskforce and bound by confidentiality. We invite anyone who feels strongly about the issue of older driver testing to contact CPSA on 1800 451 488.

Most Pensioner Concession, Health Care and Veterans’ Affairs cardholders get a:

+

+ savepower.nsw.gov.au

* Savings based on a typical eligible household, use of all kit items and following your Action Plan.

Please note that the Home Power Savings Program is finishing on 30 June 2013 February 2013

www.cpsa.org.au

1800 451 488

5


CPSA Member Benefit

6

February 2013

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


CPSA Campaigns Continued from page 1

pension payments, it seems ludicrous that this has not been lifted in 20 years. It has resulted in pensioners being “rated” out of their homes. (You will find a copy of the petition in this edition of THE VOICE). Completed (and partially completed) petitions should be posted back to CPSA Head Office at Level 9, 28 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. For further copies please call 1800 451 488. The more signatures we get, the louder our voice. So please gather signatures from friends, family and neighbours if possible. Please make sure that all signatures are on the front page of the petition and that full names and addresses are provided. Signatures on blank paper, signatures on the back of the petition and any incomplete details are deemed invalid. Originals of petition signatures must be provided to the NSW Parliament, so please post the forms to us: faxed copies or photocopies are not accepted by the NSW Parliament. Inquiry finds Dole inadequate but ignores calls for an increase THE SENATE Inquiry examining the adequacy of Australia’s allowance system, including the Dole (Newstart), released its findings late last year. In a nutshell, the Inquiry found that the Newstart payment is inadequate to live on (no surprises there) but then went on to recommend that nothing be done about it. This has negative ramifications for all

February 2013

Australians struggling to get by on Newstart. Older people spend an average of 70 weeks on Newstart. 28.5 per cent of people classified as longterm Newstart recipients are over 50 years of age and face age discrimination when looking for work. The vast majority of submissions to the Inquiry (including CPSA’s) called for an increase of $50 per week. Even the Business Council of Australia was with us on this one. But this public support was ignored. It is particularly troubling that the Senate Committee found it acceptable for 40 per cent of people on Newstart to remain on it for over a year. The report states that Newstart ‘continues to serve its primary objective in supporting people through a transitional stage of unemployment’. This is simply not the case. While the report recommended a move to increase training and support for older unemployed people, this failure to increase the payment just acts as another barrier to people finding work. The extremely low payment level (currently $246.30 per week for a single person, practically half of the poverty line of $474 for singles) means that people are often unable to keep a roof over their head. The major factor which drives people into poverty on such low Centrelink payments is the lack of affordable housing. If people are renting or paying off a mortgage,

Newstart doesn’t cut it. Owning your own home outright acts as a major buffer against homelessness and poverty when on a Centrelink payment, even though it’s still extremely tough. Pensioners who do not own their own home face ever-increasing rents and housing insecurity. It is even a cause for people entering nursing homes prematurely. Often it’s simply a matter of not being able to make the necessary home modifications (like installing grab rails or ramp access). And for people on Newstart, housing insecurity is made worse in two major ways: the payment is significantly lower and recipients are less likely to already own a house outright, placing them in a precarious situation. Housing affordability alongside a real increase to pensions and allowances urgently needs to be addressed. Nursing home has no staff rostered on at night IN what can only be described as a triumph for the residents of Queensland’s Southport Lodge hostel, the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency has found that by not rostering on any staff between 8pm and 6.30am, the home does not comply with its responsibilities under the Aged Care Act. The Agency therefore ordered the home to roster staff on at night. Southport Lodge is operated by Planlow Pty Ltd. It appears that the staffing

Maximum, minimum, what’s the diff? THE NEW minimum and maximum prices for nursing home accommodation have been published. The minimum a nursing home can charge is $50 a day. Why a minimum price? Is it to protect those aged care providers against themselves in case they recklessly want to charge less than $50? Joking aside, what really matters is the maximum price, which has been set at $85 a day. Not that $85 is the real maximum. If an aged care provider wants to charge more, they need to get approval from “the relevant government authority, in accordance with guidelines to be established”. It is not known which is “the relevant government authority”, or who will be on its board, but if the past is anything to go by, it will be a bevy of aged care provider reps and people with very close ties to aged care providers. It is also not known what those “guidelines to be established” will look like.

www.cpsa.org.au

1800 451 488

policies really lived up to the company’s name. Plan low is the way to go. There are no mandated staff-to-resident ratios for Australian aged care facilities so the Agency cannot specify how many staff a home must have to satisfy staffing requirements. So this case does prove that as a minimum, facilities must have at least one staff member to any number of residents.

7


CPSA Campaigns Again, if the past is anything to go by, it will be the bevy referred to above who will be setting the “guidelines”. Those “guidelines” will also apply if providers want to charge more than the accommodation subsidy (that is the maximum subsidy that the Government pays for nursing home residents who are unable to pay their own accommodation fees). However, the “guidelines” will not be applied by “the relevant government authority”, but by individual providers. And why not? If the process is going to be weighted against consumers, might as well go the whole hog! To put things in perspective, currently only 12 per cent of nursing home residents who pay accommodation charges pay more than $85 a day, affecting 15,500 residents. So what the Minister has decided is that 88 per cent of accommodation charges and bonds will be set by individual aged care providers, affecting approximately 114,000 residents (on 2011/12 statistics). Here’s a prediction: nursing home accommodation fees will go up to $85, the maximum becoming the minimum. As soon as $85 becomes the norm, many providers will recommence their whingeing about how they’re about to go broke. At the same time, concessional residents will find it harder to find a place, because the Government will only pay $53 a day for them. Aged care providers naturally will prefer residents who can pay $85. If you think $85 is a bit steep, you can sleep 8

easy. The Minister is still trying to work out how to protect consumers: “I am currently considering how best to ensure residents can raise any concerns they have over pricing and I intend to discuss this issue further with consumer and industry representatives”. Minister, CPSA’s door is always open. CPSA just points out that going through a leisurely complaints process is not a realistic option when entry into a nursing home is pressing and the choice of available homes is limited. And now for bonds. The recent Productivity Commission report on aged care states that the average bond was $230,000 in 2009/2010. Under the changes, bonds charged by providers must be based on the daily accommodation charge, applying the penalty interest rate used by the Australian Tax Office, currently approximately 10.5 per cent. This means that the lowest bond will be $239,000 and the highest bond $406,000 (before approval needs to be sought). Note that the average 2009/2010 bond of $230,000 was … an average. A lot of bonds were lower, much lower. However, from 1 July 2014, the average will become the minimum. But perhaps that’s irrelevant, given that the maximum will become the minimum.

February 2013

Abuse helpline will be run by aged care operator, Catholic Healthcare THE TENDER to run the NSW Abuse of Older People Helpline and Resource Unit was awarded to aged care operator Catholic Healthcare in December. The helpline was announced as part of the NSW Government’s Ageing Strategy. Providing a telephone number for people to report abuse of older people is a really good idea and one which CPSA has called for over many years. It gives people an avenue to get help. An estimated 50,000 older people in NSW are affected by abuse each year. But CPSA has reservations about how Catholic Healthcare will manage conflicts of interest if they arise. Catholic Healthcare provides aged care services to around 3,000 people in NSW each year, both in nursing homes and through home care programs in people’s houses. There is a real possibility that some people may want to complain about their treatment by Catholic Healthcare. Catholic Healthcare needs to explain to the NSW public how they will manage such complaints, given the clear conflict of interest presented. CPSA has written to the NSW Minister for Ageing, Andrew Constance, seeking clarification on this point. The Elder Abuse Prevention Unit in Queensland has been operating for a number of years now, and has apparently influenced the NSW model. Roughly 10 per cent of the complaints it receives concerns aged care providers.

Air conditioning in the zoo, but not nursing homes WHEN temperatures were forecast to exceed 40 degrees Celsius at the beginning of this year, the Hunter Valley Zoo took action to protect its animals, making sure all were housed in air conditioned buildings prior to the onset of the heatwave. “The animals seem to cope OK while the temperatures are still in the 30s, but when we hit 40 that’s when they really struggle, especially if the animal is old, young or a bit weak,” said the zoo’s Managing Director Jason Pearson. Old and weak humans also really struggle in the heat. But unlike this zoo, institutions housing such older folk (like nursing homes) don’t always take this kind of initiative when temperatures soar. There is no requirement for Australian nursing homes to have air conditioning. When a heatwave hits, residents in unairconditioned nursing homes swelter, or worse, die. Studies have shown that mortality increases once temperatures rise above 30 degrees, with the elderly being at particular risk. It seems obvious that air conditioning should be a requirement in all nursing homes, to protect residents during extreme heat. At least the Department of Health and Ageing takes some initiative when heatwaves are forecast. It sends out advice to all nursing homes that they should ensure residents have enough water to drink and stay indoors. One would think that this is common sense, but CPSA has heard of residents being found in woollen jumpers and without water in non-air-

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


CPSA Campaigns conditioned nursing homes during 40-degree heat. If air conditioning is considered essential for animals in a zoo, don’t nursing home residents deserve at least the same level of care? While we’re on the topic, CPSA also believes that air conditioning should be installed in public housing, particularly in areas that are prone to extremely high (and low) temperatures. Rural fares go up but no improvement in services remains a barrier to health FROM 1 January the allowable price increases determined by IPART for rural and regional bus fares came into play. Fares have gone up by an

average of 3.3 per cent. Yet there has been no mention of an improvement to services even though this amount is above current inflation rates. Rural transport fares were already substantially higher than those in metropolitan areas. And people in rural and regional NSW are among those most likely to experience transport disadvantage due to insufficient services, a lack of accessible services for people with disabilities and of course, unaffordability. CPSA continues to call for eligibility to the $250 Regional Excursion Daily (RED) ticket to be extended to people who hold a Low Income Health Care Card as many people on low incomes are currently not

entitled to concessional fares. This limits their ability to attend job interviews and importantly medical appointments. NCOSS has put out a paper titled ‘Provided there’s transport: transport as a barrier to health care in NSW’ which CPSA has endorsed. It’s high time that the NSW Government recognised the intrinsic link between a lack of transport options and the damaging effect this can have on health outcomes. While the demand for non-emergency transport to essential health appointments (such as chemotherapy treatment or dialysis) has doubled over the last 10 years, funding has not been increased to

match this, leaving patients in the lurch. In more promising news, it seems as though a replacement of worn out CountryLink trains may be on the cards. Perhaps they listened to CPSA’s suggestion that a proportion of the $1 billion windfall found should go towards replacing NSW’s ageing CountryLink trains. Nothing has been set in stone, however, so Branch campaigning for upgraded trains, not privatisation, needs to continue. In other transport news, the NSW Government has released its Transport Master Plan which provides an overview of the plan for all modes of transport for the next 20 years. It’s light on details in a number of areas and arguably puts too much emphasis on car dependent infrastructure over investment in public transport. The plan promises greater consultation with community groups and customers but fails to provide details on how this will be achieved. Super update: Consumer Centre important first step in the wrong direction, plus new laws make company directors liable THERE have been a number of recent developments in the name of consumer protection in the realm of superannuation. The first one is that under new laws passed in November last year, directors are now personally liable for their company’s unpaid super guarantee.

February 2013

www.cpsa.org.au

1800 451 488

9


CPSA Campaigns The super guarantee is currently set at nine per cent of employee wages to be paid into their nominated super fund. These new laws aim to protect peoples’ retirement incomes from employers who intentionally dodge their super obligations to their workers. The second development in super is the announcement that a Superannuation Consumer Centre will be set up to advocate on behalf of fund members. Sounds like a great idea and something that is long overdue. But the reality of it is likely to be different. The Government is investing $10 million over three years into the Centre but this is contingent on this figure being matched by industry. As they say, he who pays the piper calls the tune. And with super funds fitting half the bill, CPSA is concerned that this set up may result in a centre that advocates for the interests of the financial services industry rather than the consumer. There is definitely a need for a Superannuation Consumer Centre, particularly given the abysmal returns that the industry has been achieving for its members recently, combined with the exorbitant fees ($20 billion in fees were charged last year). But it should be independently funded. A tax on super funds that then goes towards the centre would be a better idea rather than having funds donate to it. This is the way that the Energy

and Water Ombudsman (EWON) is funded. Aged care residents will miss out on medical care say the AMA OLDER Australians living in nursing homes already have limited access to medical care and the situation is going to get worse, according to the Australian Medical Association’s 2012 Aged Care Survey. The survey found that older doctors who are closer to retirement are the ones providing the majority of medical services to nursing home residents, and more than 15 per cent of them intend to reduce their visits over the next two years. “The Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package provided no focus at all on the medical needs of older Australians once they enter residential aged care,” Dr Hambleton, President of the AMA said. While the AMA is acting in the interests of doctors first, calling for increases to Medicare rebates for nursing home visits, they raise some very good points labelling the lack of direction in improvements to access and quality of care as a “policy free zone” for governments. 95.6 per cent of doctors who completed the survey said there was a need to improve the availability of suitably trained and experienced nurses and other health professionals in aged care. This is backed up by the fact that the vast majority of aged care complaints are about health and personal care (2,596 last financial year).

Simpler retirement village contracts for who? RETIREMENT village contracts are to become simpler and more consumer friendly by September, according to the latest timeline given by NSW Fair Trading. The draft contract is out and CPSA has put in a submission. By September, standard retirement village contacts will need to be used for new residents and a standard disclosure statement will need to be provided before potential residents sign a contract. This is a good move for consumers because it should make important issues like cooling off periods, capital gains and exit fees clearer. Except there is a catch. Strata, company title and community land scheme options do not need to adhere to the standard contract. Fair Trading doesn’t know the number of retirement village places in NSW that fit into these categories. How many will miss out on the benefits of these changes aimed to provide certainty? No prostate cancer checks for men (or women!) PROSTATE cancer in Australia is both the second most common cancer and the second leading cause of death in men. Like other cancers, early detection is crucial in maximising the potential for positive outcomes. Despite this, the current screening system in Australia leaves much discretion around testing up to GPs. Coupled with the fact that men are less likely to visit their GP than women, this means that people are falling through the cracks. CPSA recently wrote to

the NSW Minister for Health calling for an active campaign to promote prostate cancer screening among older men (in line with what occurs for breast cancer screens and pap smears for women) in order to reduce embarrassment and avoidance of testing. This is how the response we received began: “Cancer affects both men and women,” we were told by the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health, who replied on the Minister’s behalf. The letter went on to state that “the provision of population-based screening services is not based on considerations of gender but on the weight of scientific evidence”. Is there some confusion in NSW Health that prostate cancer may affect women? Was their concern that CPSA is only calling for prostate cancer checks for men?

Got a complaint about aged care? We can help you navigate the complaints process. Call Senior Policy Officer Charmaine Crowe at Head Office on 1800 451 488 or email aged care@cpsa.org.au

10 February 2013 THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


CPSA Information Directory INCOME SECURITY Centrelink Age Pension 13 23 00 DSP/Carer benefits 13 27 17 Family Assistance 13 61 50 Welfare Rights Centre Info on Government pensions and other benefits (02) 9211 5300 1800 226 028 National Information Centre on Retirement Investments Anything for the small investor and people wondering about super or how to invest 1800 020 110 Financial Ombudsman Services Complaints about banking, insurance, super, financial planning 1300 780 808 Industry Fund Financial Planning 1300 138 848 Australian Taxation Office Super/Lost super 13 10 20 Personal tax 13 28 61 British Pensions in Australia Assistance in claiming the British Pension 1300 308 353 No Interest Loans Scheme 1800 509 994

Home Care Service NSW Domestic assistance, respite and personal care 1800 044 043

Seniors Information Service 13 12 44

Rape Crisis Centre 24hours/7days 1800 424 017

Consumer Trader & Tenancy Tribunal Tenancy, trader and consumer disputes 13 32 20 Energy & Water Ombudsman (EWON) Complaints about all NSW electricity/gas retailers and Sydney and Hunter Water 1800 246 545 Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Phone and internet complaints 1800 062 058 GOODS AND SERVICE Telstra Pensioner Discount For basic plans only 1800 353 652 NSW Seniors Card Discounts on goods and services 1300 364 758 NSW Companion Card Free event admission for companions of eligible people with a disability 1800 893 044 IPART Energy Comparison Calculator 1300 136 888 HEALTH AND CARE

RIGHTS Australian Human Rights Commission Complaints about discrimination and harassment 1300 369 711 Commonwealth Ombudsman Complaints about Federal Government departments and agencies 1300 362 072 NSW Ombudsman’s Office Complaints about NSW Government agencies 1800 451 524 NSW Trustee and Guardian 1300 360 466 February 2013

Guardianship Tribunal Financial management orders for people with decisionmaking disabilities 1800 463 928

Commonwealth CareLink Info about aged and community care 1800 052 222 Office of Hearing Services Subsidised hearing aids 1800 500 726

Health Care Complaints Commission NSW only (02) 9219 7444 1800 043 159 Carers NSW Information, support 1800 242 636 Emergency respite 1800 059 059

CPSA’s Older Persons Tenants’ Service (OPTS) Individual advocacy (02) 9566 1120 1800 13 13 10 CPSA’s Park and Village Service (PAVS) Individual advocacy for caravan parks and manufactured homes villages (02) 9566 1010 1800 177 688 NSW Department of Housing Info and applications 1300 468 746

Aged care information line Residential and community aged care information 1800 200 422 Aged Care Complaints Scheme Complaints about residential and community aged care 1800 550 552 Lifeline Mental health support, suicide prevention 13 11 14 Beyond Blue Depression and anxiety information 1300 224 636

Tenants Advice Line Mondays 3-6pm 1800 251 101 LEGAL The Aged-care Rights Service including Older Persons’ Legal Service Aged care and retirement village advocacy and information and legal advice for older people. (02) 9281 3600 1800 424 079 Law Access Referrals for legal help 1300 888 529

Public Dental Health Services Call NSW Health for details (02) 9391 9000 1800 639 398 People with Disabilities Advice for people with a disability (02) 9370 3100 1800 422 016

Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500

Exit Australia Information about euthanasia 1300 103 948

Private Health Insurance Ombudsman Complaints and information 1300 737 299

Dying with Dignity NSW Law reform for assisted dying (02) 9212 4782 www.dwdnsw.org.au

VisionCare NSW Subsidised spectacles (02) 9344 4122 1800 806 851

Australian Men’s Shed Association 1300 550 009

www.cpsa.org.au

HOUSING

1800 451 488

The Law Society Solicitor and legal firm referrals 1800 422 713 Community Justice Centres Dispute resolution services for minor matters 1800 990 777 Domestic Violence Advocacy Service 1800 200 526 Family Relationship Centres Relationship and separation information 1800 050 321 Office of the Legal Services Commissioner Complaints about lawyers and conveyancers 1800 242 958

11


Giggle Page Home early Mother: ‘Why are you home from school so early?’ Son: ‘I was the only one who could answer a question.’ Mother: ‘Oh, really? What was the question?’ Son: ‘Who threw the blackboard duster at the teacher?’ Three wishes A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out. The Genie says, “I’ll give each of you just one wish” “Me first! Me first!” says the administration clerk. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.” Poof! She’s gone. “Me next! Me next!” says the sales rep. “I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of pina coladas and the love of my life.”

The Two Ushers Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang, and talked out loud. Finally, his big sister had had enough.

Poof! He’s gone. “OK, you’re up,” the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.”

“You’re not supposed to talk out loud in church.” “Why? Who’s going to stop me?” Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said,

Fun Facts

“See those two men standing by the door? They’re hushers.”

Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end . Zero is the only number that cannot be represented by Roman numerals.

Crossword Solutions Crossword on page 4

Kites were used in the American Civil War to deliver letters and newspapers. Peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines because it doesn’t smoke unless it’s heated above 232°C. The University of Alaska spans four time zones. The tooth is the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself. In ancient Greece , tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted. Everything weighs one percent less at the equator. Airports at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip due to lower air density. 12

February 2013

From Mike Dunleavy

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW


THE VOICE FEBRUARY 2013  

THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW

Advertisement
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you