OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW Print Post Approved PP235387100064
Will Premier do u-turn on
older driver testing?
INSIDE: * Drop in deeming rates long overdue * Public housing: Carbon tax compo grab and will I have to move? * Hospital funding cuts 1
CPSA has resigned from the NSW Older Driver Taskforce, which is conducting a review of older driver testing in NSW. CPSA is bound by confidentiality, so cannot reveal why. Make of that what you will. Readers of THE VOICE are invited to write to Premier
Oâ€™Farrell to remind him of his commitment to abolish older driver testing in this state. THE VOICE offers the following material to assist readers in their correspondence with the Premier. The way the medical test is imposed is entirely illogical: - From age 75, older drivers
undergo an annual medical test to determine if they are still fit to drive. -This medical test is considered to be effective for 75 â€“ 84 year olds, but not once older drivers turn 85, when road testing kicks in in addition to annual medical testing. 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 Margaret Craven-Scott Jim Grainda George Ray Colin Vernon Barbara Wright
OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
Phone: 1800 451 488 Fax: (02) 9281 9716 Email: email@example.com 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.
Older driver discrimination WHILE I now reside in the ACT, the experience of renewing my NSW driver licence has raised questions about the treatment of older people by an official of the Moruya office. I took a test with an official of this office and found it to be an unpleasant experience. Although I have a good driving record, with no serious accidents or offences in 65 years of driving, I was treated shoddily, with disrespect and a lack of courtesy. In the past the Moruya office has always treated me – and others – with a high standard of courtesy. My recent experience, however, suggested a discriminatory attitude towards older people. We of the ageing generation (I am now 85) may need to be checked to ensure that we do not add to road hazards, but it is surely appropriate that
our tests should be conducted with respect and courtesy. To do otherwise merely makes this experience unnecessarily traumatic. It should be remembered that for some of us, our independence of movement is at stake. I might mention that since my experience I have heard that other older drivers have encountered similar experiences, concluding, perhaps wrongly, that the testing officer is out to get the elderly off the roads. If so, it is a serious matter of discrimination that should be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities. Perhaps some appropriate counselling would be helpful. James Dunn Cook ACT These concerns will be forwarded on to the Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay, MP and the Older Driver Taskforce. Ed.
Pensioners lose out on medical bills AS A pensioner that recently had surgery, I ask why all specialists don’t bulk bill pensioners, and why the Medicare rebate refund cheque (if one doesn’t want to supply their bank details) takes over 3 weeks. I paid $90 in this case. I am told by Medicare that I will eventually get a refund of $35.90. The specialist costs are to be $130 when I don’t see the surgeon, and I will still have to pay transport costs. And pre-surgery costs were $189 that I had to pay upfront. Where are pensioners expected to get the money from? Especially when costs are due before pension day. This unfair practice needs to change for all pensioners’ sakes. We shouldn’t have to find this kind of money up front for required surgery, so either all specialists should bulk
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
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.
Please send me information about making a bequest to CPSA in my will. 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
I wish to make a donation of $______ (All donations above $2 are tax deductible). Please send me information about THE VOICE gift subscriptions.
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
Letters bill pensioners, or Medicare refunds for pensioners should be paid right away, even when we don’t choose to supply our private banking details. Pensioners requiring surgery and medical attention should not be left stranded, out of pocket, or forced to forgo urgent medical attention. It is disgraceful, the way Australian pensioners are treated, by those we vote into Governments. I suggest that those in Government and those who make these rules should try and survive on a pension for a year: after all they expect us to. A fair go? I don’t think so. Edwina E du Cassé Nambucca Heads NSW
look at this injustice and run a campaign on behalf of those of us that the Government chooses to ignore? Jim Christie Yerrinbool NSW The Age Pension rules are that all superannuation income is treated the same and that for every dollar of superannuation income above the ‘income-free area’ the Age Pension is reduced by 50 cents. Ed.
are you waiting for us to go on the full Age Pension and become a bigger burden on the tax payer? David Attenborough Taren Point NSW This letter was written to Treasurer Wayne Swan before the announcement that the deeming rates will be reduced from 3 per cent to 2.5 per cent on 20 March 2013 for the first $45,400 for singles and $75,600 for couples, and from 4.5 to 4 per Deeming rates deemed too cent for any amount above high: letter to the Treasurer these figures. See article on I AM a part Age Pensioner page 7. Ed. who worked and paid taxes for 56 years. Rate payers missing out on On my retirement 12 years assistance ago, my wife and I then I AM an 88 year old widower became self-funded retirees. pensioner and a member of In mid-2011 we were eligible the Randwick City Council for a part pension. Older Persons Advisory Could you please tell me Committee as a community Military Pension campaign when you are going to adjust representative. needed the deeming rate from 4.5 On behalf of the 17.5 BESIDES a part Age Pension, per cent? It is now almost per cent needy ratepayers I receive superannuation impossible to get that at (Council’s 2010 survey) I in the form of a military most banks, in fact savings would like to draw to your pension. accounts offer a lot less. attention the ever escalating Each time there is an The bulk of our money is Council rates. increase in the military invested in term deposits According to an article pension (minimal as they with Qantas Credit Union at in a local paper, Randwick are) the Government rips their top rate of 4.5 per cent, residents face some of the back around 50 per cent by but as soon as each maturity highest rates in the city. reducing the Age Pension. date is reached we will have My council rates for There seems little doubt a reduced rate of interest. 1994/95 were $892 this is done as a cost-saving The rest of our money is (including the $250 pensioner measure, without regard in a working account at less concession). In 2012/13 my for whether it is moral. than 3 per cent. rates amounted to $2388, The responsible Minister At present our rate of including the same $250. of course has the bare-faced interest averages less than The only assistance the cheek to claim this is done to 4 per cent, which does not Council is offering to the create a sense of fairness for reach the deeming rate, and needy ratepayers is a deferred those Age Pensioners who do this 4 per cent will reduce as payment drawing interest. not have super. we roll over our term deposits When I asked via Mr The fact that I am in future. Michael Daley, MP that the discriminated against, as Over the past 12 months Council waive the additional is every other past serving you have been on television environmental levy, even that member of the Australian numerous times saying that was rejected. Defence Force, for having the banks should be passing George Gergely chosen to serve my country, on any and all of the reduced Maroubra NSW obviously escapes not interest rate changes set by only the Minister, but the RBA. Hunter priorities moved to also successive political So I ask again, do you Newcastle? parties that come to power. intend to lower the deeming THE recent announcement How about taking a hard rate in the near future, or by the Hunter Infrastructure
1800 451 488
Advisory Board to recommend that $60 million be ‘earmarked’ for a new transport interchange in Newcastle demonstrates a lack of commitment to the important issues of the Hunter Region. It also demonstrates unconscionable desperation to finance speculation in Newcastle. The Hunter Infrastructure Advisory Board has frequently described Newcastle as the “second largest city in NSW”. They seem to have difficulty defining just what and where Newcastle is. If Newcastle is the second largest city in the state by population, then that means its population also includes the populations of Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Port Stephens. This second largest city in NSW could be referred to as ‘Greater Newcastle’ for the sake of a name. The proposal to ‘revitalise Newcastle CBD’ must be of the lowest possible priority to all the cities of the Hunter including Newcastle. If there is an identified priority to earmark an important project in ‘Greater Newcastle’, then obviously it would be endorsed by the community and at least the local governments of these four cities (Liberals’ previous state election promise). The one very obvious major project endorsed by all the Hunter Councils is the Glendale Interchange. Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore dismissed this project out of hand without explanation, although his Council must have supported the reportedly unanimous Glendale Interchange decision. George Paris Rathmines NSW
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
Garden of Remembrance $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.
Hazel Toddington who was a Life Member and past Treasurer of Budgewoi Branch has passed away. She will be sadly missed by all Members. Toongabbie Senior Citizens Association notes with sadness the passing of Esma Sabien who was a valued Member and will be sorely missed. Guildford Branch are saddened at the sudden passing of one of their dear Members Lee Starr who was a Member of the group for 25 years. Lee will be sadly missed by family and friends. Gladesville, Hunters Hill and Ryde Member Harold Parnaby was a valued member for 26 years and President for 13 years. Ill health forced him to retire as President in 2011 but from his sick bed Harold continued to find speakers and supplied the local paper with CPSA news. He will be missed by all. ~ Rest in Peace ~
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.
CPSA office hours are 9am – 4pm Monday – Friday.
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.
1. Not purposeful 8. Missile, censure 9. Regard highly 10. Twice runaway to wed (5,5) 11. Necessity 12. Mark of disgrace 14. Maladies 17. Roller 20. Bulb flowers 23. Bridge part 24. Surgeon (Latin) 25. Burrowing rodent 26. Talkers 27. Four-weekly publications (7,6)
1. Vertical 2. Crawling stealthily 3. Plateau 4. A country’s transport system (8,7) 5. Angry 6. Candidate 7. Biggest 13. Sick 15. Baltic state 16. Rapa …, Easter Island 18. Spar (4-3) 19. Cruel 21. Readable 22. Cultivates 24. Entrap
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. Donations 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: Anonymous $50
by Hilda Thorburn
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
Members’ page About CPSA
Send a letter to THE VOICE
CPSA is a non-profit, non-party-political membership association founded in 1931 which serves pensioners of all ages, superannuants and low-income retirees.
THE VOICE, CPSA Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010
CPSA has 130 Branches and affiliated organisations with a combined membership of over 29,000 people living throughout NSW. CPSA’s aim is to improve the standard of living and well-being of its Members and constituents.
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.
CPSA depends for the majority of its funding for core activities as a peak body on a $440,000 grant from the NSW Government and a $68,000 grant from the Australian Government.
Council Rate Rebate Petition Update
CPSA engages in systemic advocacy on behalf of its constituency and also auspices four services which receive Government funding: the Health Promotion Service for Older People, the Older Persons Tenants’ Service, the Park and Village Service and a Community Visitors Scheme. CPSA acknowledges the potential for conflict of interest arising for CPSA and the NSW and Australian Governments as a result of this funding arrangement. CPSA is committed to managing any conflict of interest issues in an ethical manner.
We have received hundreds of signatures from Members as part of our Council Rate Rebate petition that appeared in the last edition of THE VOICE. Please keep them coming: the more signatures we have, the louder our voice when we submit them to the NSW Parliament. If you require more copies of the petition, please call Head Office on 1800 451 488. “So glad you are taking up the issue of the Council Rate Rebate on our behalf. Rates sure are taking too much of our pensions! Good luck.” Carole and Hilton Krone, Robertson NSW
CPSA Members Awarded for their Service Elizabeth Webb was awarded an Order of Australia medal for volunteer service to her community. In particular she was recognised for working tirelessly on family and community history. Elizabeth (or Bessie as she likes to be called) is 90 years of age and continues to be very active in her community and is Treasurer of Nana Glen and Glenreagh CPSA. Shirley Anderson was named Gunnedah’s 2013 Citizen of the Year for her service to the community and has been an active campaigner on country rail services. Shirley joined CPSA in 1979 and has held numerous roles on the Branch’s board, and is currently the Senior Vice President of Gunnedah CPSA. Has anyone in your Branch been honoured? Let us know by calling Head Office on 1800 451 488.
THE e-VOICE is available online Visit our website, www.cpsa.org.au, and sign up at THE VOICE - Subscribe
CPSA fearlessly campaigns for the rights and interests of its Members. As a Member of CPSA, you know that we’re working for a better deal for YOU. Join today! Visit www.cpsa.org.au or go to page 2 March 2013
1800 451 488
CPSA Member Benefit
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
CPSA Campaigns Continued from page 1
This is surprising, because people’s health doesn’t generally improve between the ages of 75 and 85. You would think that a medical test would be just as effective or even more effective at 85. The medical test is arbitrary and therefore discriminatory. It looks at a number of medical conditions that might make anyone at any age an unsafe driver. Anyone under 75 is trusted to inform the licensing authority if they have such a condition, but that trust is withdrawn for people aged 75 and over. The medical test could be used for the one medical condition that older drivers can be expected to be in denial about, or be unaware of, namely dementia. However, a formal diagnosis of dementia cannot be made by a GP. A GP can only make a referral to a geriatrician when s/he suspects there is something wrong. Because of the confronting and incurable nature of dementia, GPs postpone making such referrals as long as possible – for four years on average. Any driver from age 85 who has passed their medical test gets a virtual gun called the ‘modified licence’ put to their head. They are given a choice to either accept a modified licence – which allows them to, essentially, drive to the shops and back – without taking a road test, or they can decide to take a road test. If they fail the on-road test, there no longer is the option of a to-the-shopsand-back licence.
No wonder the take-up of modified licences has soared. Older drivers are effectively coerced into modified licences. The reduced crash rate of these drivers is held up as proof that modified licences are effective and necessary. However, the reduced crash rate is the natural result of an age group being forced off the road for most of the time. The crash rate among drivers in any age group would also drop dramatically if they were only allowed to drive to the shops and back. One in three older drivers foolhardy enough to knock back the modified licence option fails the road test. While the licensing authority says it has modified (there’s that word again) the usual full road test, implying that you have to be at the very least very doddery to fail it, its examiners will still fail a driver for going a little over the speed limit or for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, things most drivers do frequently. It seems that the NSW licensing authority has an overwhelming desire to get older people off the road. The rest of the developed world has abandoned older driver testing because it doesn’t work. And no evidence that it works stands up to scrutiny. Older driver testing is an illogical, discriminatory, coercive, ineffective, punitive scheme designed to kick older drivers off the road. It’s the older driver testing, not the older drivers, that needs to be ditched.
Drop in deeming rates long overdue PART pensioners can breathe a sigh of relief because the deeming rates have finally been lowered. For far too long the deeming rate has not been keeping up with the falls in interest rates, causing pensioners with modest savings in the bank to lose out. Deeming rates assume that financial investments are earning a certain rate of interest, no matter what interest they are actually earning. Since March 2010 there have been six RBA interest rate cuts but no cuts to the deeming rate, until now. From 20 March 2013 the current deeming rate of 3 per cent for the first $45,400 held by single pensioners ($75,600 for couples) will drop to 2.5 per cent, while the current rate of 4.5 per cent p.a. for any amount above these figures will be reduced to 4 per cent. The Government has estimated that this will result in an extra $6.80 in the fortnightly pensions for the average pensioner affected by deeming rates. In NSW, 235,000 pensioners are affected by deeming rates, with 740,500 pensioners affected across Australia. The pension ‘professor’ knocks again IN THE lead-up to the Budget, there have been reports about planned changes to superannuation. And, as always, there have been complaints about the uncertainty created by superannuation rule changes. The reality is that
superannuation remains one of the best totally legal tax lurks around, despite all the changes and despite all the uncertainty. It is only fair that superannuation rules are regularly reviewed to make sure it assists everyone it is meant to assist. After all, the benefits of superannuation increase with income and wealth. Someone whose top marginal tax rate is 45 per cent pays only 15 per cent tax over their super contributions, while someone on a 15 per cent top marginal tax rate pays exactly the same rate over their super contributions. A nice little saving for the person on 45 per cent, but nothing for the lowly paid worker taxed at 15 per cent. Wheel out David Knox, in Mercer’s Retirement, Risk and Finance business, to prove this is equitable. Dr Knox’s argument is that someone on a 45 per cent tax rate benefits more, but when they reach pension age, their pension is much lower as a result. Big saving to Government! In the case of someone who was on a 15 per cent marginal tax rate (poor person), that super dollar coming their way in retirement costs the Federal Treasury 50 cents in the pension. But in the case of someone who was on a 45 per cent marginal tax rate (rich person), that same dollar cost the Federal Treasury 35 cents in forfeited tax plus 50 cents in the pension. That’s 85 cents. Why would it be a good deal for the Federal Treasury to be paying someone 35 cents more
1800 451 488
CPSA Campaigns than someone else for the same thing? And that’s without taking into consideration that those 50 cents more are spent on someone well-off, who doesn’t need the assistance. Dr Knox, the man who pushed the increase in Age Pension age to 67, thinks all this is a marvel of equality and parity between the rich and the poor. “To put it simply, the rich are not getting a better deal from the Government when it comes to retirement funding. It’s swings and roundabouts: what lowincome earners miss in tax concessions, is made up for in Age Pension payments,” Dr Knox said. Swings and roundabouts alright, but they must be in Dr Knox’s head. Pensioners face bleak standard of living THE ASFA Retirement Standard figures were released last month and they paint a bleak picture of life on the Age, Disability and Carer Pensions. The Standard found that – surprise, surprise – the costs of living in retirement have gone up. Among the big ticket increases are medical and hospital services (up 9.4 per cent), pharmaceutical products (up 5.4 per cent) and dental services (up 3.4 per cent). According to the Standard, a couple looking for a comfortable retirement now needs an income of $56,339 per year, while a modest retirement lifestyle requires $32,555 a year. For singles, a comfortable lifestyle requires spending $41,186 a year, while a modest lifestyle requires $22,585. 8
Pensions currently stand at $20,087 per year for singles and $30,284 for couples, leaving them well below the amount required for a ‘modest retirement lifestyle’, which is defined by ASFA as only being able to afford basic activities. This just highlights, yet again, that Pensions are insufficient in allowing pensioners to pay for essentials. What is most worrying is that the ASFA figures factor in people owning their own home, which is increasingly not the case, particularly for those on a Pension. The Pension also has built into it the assumption that pensioners are likely to be homeowners, meaning that pensioners who are renting (or paying off a mortgage) are losing out even more. This is why CPSA continues to campaign for an independent body to determine pension and allowance rates, to ensure that recipients are able to maintain an adequate standard of living. TheAustralian Government must do something about housing affordability and security if we are going to see an improvement in the standard of living for those on a Pension. Will I be made to move house if Housing NSW asks me to? IN THE middle of last year, NSW Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward announced that single or couple public housing tenants living in homes that could accommodate more people will be ‘requested’ to move to a smaller property. There are single people and couples living in multibedroom public housing dwellings, often because
their children have grown up and left home. While CPSA and many tenants understand the reasoning behind this policy - there are far more people needing public housing than there are dwellings – it could cause significant hardship for some people. It is unclear how much power Housing NSW has to force people to move to another property. At this stage, the Minister has informed CPSA that people will ‘be requested’ to move, rather than ‘forced’. CPSA has contacted the Minister’s office seeking clarification on how much say tenants will have. CPSA wrote to the Minister outlining its concerns, particularly about moving people to another area and therefore away from health and community services used by the tenant. The Minister responded, saying that the Government appreciates CPSA’s concerns and that CPSA may be “assured that Housing NSW staff will follow the principles of natural justice and behave reasonably when approaching and working with tenants around relocations”. Ms Goward also included a hand written note at the end of the letter that says, “I am very conscious of the importance of sensitivity.” CPSA urges anyone who has been approached by Housing NSW and requested to move to contact CPSA on 1800 451 488 if they have concerns.
their first instalment of the Clean Energy Supplement. This is to be a regular fortnightly supplement in addition to the Pension increase, paid to assist pensioners with the rise in living costs under the carbon tax. Single pensioners will receive approximately $338 per year, while pensioner couples will receive about $510. Readers will remember the advance lump sum payment of $250 for singles and $190 for each member of a couple paid in May-June last year. This is the ongoing payment. Pensioners living in public housing, however, are in for a rude shock when they receive their Pension increase and their first instalment of the Clean Energy Supplement. For the first time, not only will a percentage of their Pension increase be taken in the form of rent but also a percentage of this new supplement as well. Until now Pension Supplements have always been quarantined from public and community housing rent calculations. This is because they do not represent additional real income but are paid to offset specific costs, in this case the carbon tax. CPSA is very concerned that this may just represent the thin edge of the wedge with the Pension Supplement potentially under threat. NSW and Queensland State Governments will take some of the Clean Energy Supplement from public Carbon tax compo coming housing residents. Victoria is but little relief if you’re in yet to make their decision on public housing the issue. FROM 20 March 2013 The rest of the states and pensioners will not only territories are sticking to receive their six monthly tradition and not touching the pension increase but also new Supplement.
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
CPSA Campaigns Those living in public housing are already struggling to absorb price rises. They need the Clean Energy Supplement to keep up with the rising cost of living. Sixty-seven per cent of residents in public housing have some form of disability or long-term health problem and are much more likely to be living below the poverty line. CPSA is very concerned about whether this foreshadows the future inclusion of the Pension Supplement in rent calculations. We have campaign postcards to send to your local NSW Member of Parliament calling for the Clean Energy Supplement (and other supplements and rebates) to be exempt from rent calculations. If you wish to receive
some postcards to help us in this campaign, please call CPSA Head Office on 1800 451 488. Centrelink’s Centrepay making life easy for scammers IT HAS been revealed that certain businesses are exploiting the Centrelink Centrepay system and ripping off people on income support, so Centrepay is undergoing a review. Centrepay is a free voluntary bill-paying service for Centrelink customers, which allows people to pay bills and other recurring payments directly from their account. Half a million income support recipients currently use Centrepay, and many find it a great way to help them budget. But there have been a few rogue players taking advantage of Centrepay,
Random photo of the month: Window washers at a children’s hospital
exploiting people who don’t understand the contracts they’re signing. The main culprits are rental companies from which people can rent whitegoods and appliances. Zaam Rentals was doorknocking income support recipients and getting them to sign contracts to rent various household goods for up to two years without taking proper care that they had understood the contract’s terms. Zaam would then set up the Centrepay deductions from the client’s Centrelink payments, and often the client wouldn’t realise how much was being deducted from their account. Its credit licence has since been cancelled by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and its directors have been banned from providing credit for 4 to 6 years. One client rented a $500 computer for $80 per fortnight over two years. They ended up paying over $4,000 for the laptop: more than eight times the computer’s value. “In deliberately targeting vulnerable people who had limited understanding of the contracts they were signing, and little capacity to meet repayments, Zaam Rentals and its directors have acted unconscionably,” ASIC Commissioner Peter Kell said. The question to Centrelink, however, is why was such conduct allowed to occur under the Centrepay system in the first place, considering that a condition of companies being offering Centrepay is that they act conscionably 1800 451 488
and follow a duty of care? Businesses offering Centrepay must first be approved by Centrelink. Latest figures show that around 13,000 businesses offer Centrepay. There is no publiclyavailable information on complaints or the like made to Centrelink about businesses exploiting the Centrepay system. That’s partly why a review of the system has been arranged. Submissions have closed for the review, but its recommendations will be followed up on in THE VOICE. Railcorp split laying the tracks for privatisation? RAILCORP, the operator of NSW trains, will no longer exist from July. From the middle of the year it will be split into Sydney Trains (the CBD and suburban network) and NSW Trains (services between regions as well as CountryLink). While the Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, has denied that this is a first step towards privatisation, this split would make it easier for the trains to be privatised in the future. The person responsible for running the London Tube, no mean feat particularly during the Olympics last year, will head the Sydney arm. He has been quoted as saying that Sydney’s trains are decades behind in terms of ticketing, technology and the environment, something he wants to see improved. He also warned his new employer, the NSW Government, that failure to
CPSA Campaigns invest in new infrastructure would be a mistake. That’s all well and good but as things currently stand, the only way this could be done is through privatisation. CPSA continues to call for a commitment from the NSW Government that trains and buses remain in public hands AND for substantial investment to ensure that they actually meet all people’s transport needs, and not just the needs of peak hour commuters. Hospital funding cuts A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital’s hydrotherapy pool from being privatised, after NSW Health cut the hospital’s funding by $35 million. If the pool is privatised, the cost of individual visits could rise from $6 to $78. The pool is used by people with a range of health conditions and disabilities. Obviously if session prices rose to $78, only the very well-off would be able to afford to use the pool. There are also fears that the hospital will have to close a number of clinics and wards, as part of the funding cuts, including outpatient clinics and dermatology services. These cuts form part of the NSW Government’s $2.2 billion ‘efficiency drive’ (read ‘cuts’) to health services state wide, over four years. The NSW Government has stated that these cuts will be used to fund frontline services. It’s unclear how these cuts will be achieved or what frontline services will
be funded. There is currently a petition to save the Prince of Wales hydrotherapy pool from privatisation. For copies of the petition, contact the Health Services Union NSW on 1300 478 679. If your local hospital is making cuts to services, CPSA wants to know about it. Contact CPSA Head Office on 1800 451 488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Reform of benzodiazepines in nursing homes A GOOD, albeit small, reform is on the cards for nursing home residents. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has proposed to change benzodiazepines from being Schedule 4 drugs (Prescription Only Drug) to Schedule 8 drugs (Controlled Drugs). Benzodiazepines are prescribed mainly for anxiety and sleeping problems. The most common ones are Valium, Serepax, Normison, Mogadon, Temazepam, Rohypnol and Xanax. What does this mean? It simply means that the drugs will have to be administered by two qualified health professionals rather than one or by the patient themselves. Aged and Community Services Australia, a lobby group representing charitable and religious aged care providers, has warned against this change, saying that homes will need to employ more staff, especially at night, and would have to stop
allowing self-administration of the drug by residents. It seems this change will cause some grief for the Human Resources departments of nursing homes. Benzodiazepines are a tranquiliser, and can be deadly because they can depress breathing. Other side effects include memory loss, personality changes, slurred speech, and coma. They are particularly risky for older people and have been found to increase the risk of falls. In other words, benzodiazepines are no regular medication anyone can get in a supermarket. They are serious drugs that could have very serious sideeffects. It therefore seems reasonable to ensure they’re controlled and administered correctly. How any nursing home could think that it’s appropriate for people to selfadminister them is beyond belief, especially nursing home residents whose health may impede their decisionmaking skills. An aged care success story LAST YEAR, CPSA was contacted by Amanda (not her real name) whose parents were in a nursing home and suffering from poor care. One parent had developed gangrene and had a limb amputated because of poor wound management. The other parent had been mistreated by a staff member in the facility. Amanda called CPSA to get some advice as to what she should do to get better care, not just for her parents, but for the other residents in the facility. CPSA advised her of her
parents’ rights under the Aged Care Act and walked her through the complaints process. It took a while, but several months after the poor care incidents occurred, Amanda’s efforts led to the engagement of a full-time clinical nurse at the facility who reportedly responds to any concerns of residents or their families. Her parents’ health has improved and their dentures are now cleaned three times per day, rather than never as was the case before. All of what Amanda has achieved is enshrined in the Aged Care Act. In other words, it should have already been happening without a word being said. All that Amanda did was ensure that the provider did what they’re funded and accredited to do. Many aged care residents don’t have sons or daughters, or anyone for that matter, who go into the home to bat for them. Sure, the Accreditation Agency and Government are supposed to oversee aged care provision, but they’re not doing a great job. If they did, Amanda would never have had to contact CPSA to begin with.
Got a complaint about aged care? We can help you navigate the complaints process. Call Senior Policy Advisor Charmaine Crowe at Head Office on 1800 451 488 or email email@example.com
10 March 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
Australian Human Rights Commission Complaints about discrimination and harassment 1300 369 711 Commonwealth Ombudsman Complaints about Australian 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
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
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) Advice and advocacy (02) 9566 1120 1800 13 13 10 CPSA’s Park and Village Service (PAVS) Advice and advocacy for residents in residential parks (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
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
Your questions answered In which battle did Napoleon die? His last one. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed? At the bottom of the page. The River Zambezi flows in which state? Liquid. What is the main reason for divorce? Marriage. What can you never eat for breakfast? Lunch and dinner. What looks like half an apple? The other half. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what will it become? Wet.
Crossword Solutions Crossword on page 4
How can a man go eight days without sleeping? No problem, he sleeps at night. How can you lift an elephant with one hand? You will never find an elephant that has only one hand. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in other hand, what would you have? Very large hands. If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it? No time at all. The wall is already built. How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it? Any way you want. Concrete floors are very hard to crack.
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW