OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW Print Post Approved PP235387100064
Big Nursing Home Barons Disappoint on Fire Sprinklers
DURING July 2012, CPSA made over 200 phone calls to nursing homes across NSW to ask the question “Does your facility have fire sprinklers installed?” The responses received have been both surprising and, at times, horrifying. Some nursing homes we spoke with were open about whether they had fire sprinklers in their homes. Others diverted our calls to their head office, where we quickly discovered that bigger organisations often did not want to share this important information with us, or with the public. When we asked nursing home staff and managers – maintenance staff, directors of nursing, owners – to tell us if they had sprinkler systems installed, we received a variety of responses. We believe this information should be freely available to the public, whether it be to CPSA, a potential resident or a family member. But many organisations either chose not to give the information to us, or said it wasn’t a matter they could discuss then diverted us to their head offices. Of the eleven large organisations we contacted, many were unwilling to tell us over the phone if their NSW nursing homes had sprinkler systems. Instead, they asked that we email our request. Continued page 5
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
Letters CPSA Executive (as at 24 July 2012)
Grace Selway OAM CPSA President Bob Jay CPSA Secretary Betty Chamberlain CPSA Treasurer Bill Holland Senior Vice President Assistant Treasurer George Ray Vice President Sue Latimer Assistant Secretary Shirley Bains Janet Coxon Margaret Craven-Scott Jim Grainda Marie Mihell Colin Vernon Barbara Wright
OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
Phone: 1800 451 488 Fax: (02) 9281 9716 Email: email@example.com Production: Emma Cheyne, Amelia Christie, Antoine Mangion & Paul Versteege Printer: MPD, Unit E1, 46-62 Maddox Street, Alexandria NSW 2015 All content prepared by the editorial and production team with reference to stories on AAP newswire, unless indicated.
THE VOICE CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010
Letters are personal views only and do not necessarily reflect CPSA policy. Ed.
Basic card taking rights I’M VERY concerned about the new Basics Card being issued to people on pensions. You cannot justify differentiating between poor money management workers and poor money management pensioners. My bank account is still a little book where I have money deposited and I can withdraw from my bank or from a Post Office. This is very convenient for me. I can see at a glance how much I have left in my bank, how much money left in my purse after buying groceries, paying bills, paying for a bus/ train/ferry ride etc. I can see what I am spending. This is my main concern. I need to see what I am spending, what I have left in my purse. I’ve had many years of being harassed by my bank to change over to a little card and take my money out of a hole in the wall, or pay for
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between us pensioners and workers besides workers having more money? Respect from society. This card will be telling ALL of my friends, acquaintances, shopkeepers and general public just where my money comes from, even though it is not anyone’s business. How can I pay for a bus ticket with a card, pay for a taxi home on big shopping day, pay my annual fees for the pensioner groups I belong to? What will I do when I go to pay for some more groceries to find I don’t have enough money left in my little green card account? How embarrassing. I don’t want little bits of paper floating around in my bag with my bank account details on it, to lose/fall out of my bag for anyone to see. At the grocery shop/fruit shop/butchers – ‘Line up
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everything by swiping a little card and not see what money I have left. That sounds so frightening. I don’t drink, smoke, watch pornography or gamble. My daughter is grown and left home years ago. I eat. My bills are paid on time. Compare that to the people who work for a wage and yet still smoke, gamble their homes away (and you know there are plenty of these people), waste money on lots of alcohol, are late paying bills and their children suffer with not enough food, clothing etc. Why can’t they have their money managed by a little card that works the same as a new Basics Card? Definitely this card is taking away rights of people on pensions and continuing the rights of workers to smoke, gamble, not feed themselves properly or their children. What is the difference
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). I wish to make a donation of $______ (All donations above $2 are tax deductible). Please send me information about THE VOICE gift subscriptions. I wish to make a bequest to CPSA in my Will. Please send me information. Name:_____________________________________________________________________________ Address:___________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________State:_____________Postcode:__________ Phone: ______________________________Email:_________________________________________ 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 August 2012
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
Letters in this line, workers. Line up in this line, pensioners’: where does it end? ‘A line for blacks, one for whites’? ‘Men over here, females there’? ‘Christians in one line, others in another’? I don’t want this new Basics Card. I am not an ‘other’. I am a person, not a pensioner with an addled brain. So do not insult me and tell the world that I am. This little green card idea sounds like Centrelink, the banks and big supermarkets have been working this out together. How to get the rest of the pensioners onto using a card instead of a bank book and how to get all pensioners to shop at big supermarkets, not at the small businesses. Jennifer Grant Punchbowl, NSW Knowledge neglected AS A new CPSA Member, I am particularly interested in the article concerning people who pay ninety per cent of their pension in rent as well as youngsters who have no place to sleep. Not quite the image of Australia that is promulgated overseas I fear. However, bowing to superior knowledge, there is little doubt to my way of thinking that amongst my fellow Members that they will have some answers to this problem. After all is said and done, so much talent is not being used, is it? We have a one hundred and two year old as well as those in their nineties in our Branch who must know an awful lot. Why not venture their opinions? Not having been educated in Australia, I was brought up to understand that the Commonwealth of Australia meant just that – that all
residents ‘share’ the wealth of the continent. My experience, however, does not appear to support this theory. Again, thank you for the acceptance of my Membership of CPSA. I rather feel that I am in very good company. John ER Shepherd Mullumbimby, NSW Advertising of shonky funeral insurance must stop I FIND it very distressing that funeral insurance is advertised through the NSW Seniors Card, in its magazine and on its emails. This type of insurance is a rip off for elderly people as it usually ends up costing them more than an actual funeral. I have asked both insurers and the NSW Government to desist from advertising such a shonky product in a guide that is designed to help the elderly save money rather than costing them more than it should. Barbara Wright Busby, NSW Sydney buses to go private? THE NSW Fair Go For Pensioners Coalition seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing of low-income retirees in NSW. FGFP understands that the NSW Government has not ruled out privatising the State Transit Authority bus fleet. FGFP NSW is very concerned by this and the impact privatisation may have on fare pricing and service provision. Evidence from other states where privatisation has occurred has shown that privatisation often results in fewer services at a higher cost to commuters. Similarly, the services run
throughout NSW by private bus companies face limited off-peak services and higher fares, often isolating people living in outer regions. FGFP NSW calls for the State Transit Authority and other modes of public transport to remain in public hands. FGFP NSW calls for the protection of off-peak services and pensioner concessions in the event of any further privatisation. Fair Go For Pensioners NSW Sydney, NSW
Dapto Seniors Club meet with Local Federal MP
On Thursday 19th July 2012 local Federal MP Stephen Jones (Member for Throsby) paid a visit to the regular fortnightly meeting of Dapto Seniors in Heininger Hall, Dapto. Mr Jones mingled with Members before the meeting then gave a short talk where he referred to the very active role the club played in the community before he dealt with some of the Federal issues concerning older people. He briefly touched on Send a letter to pension indexation and THE VOICE supplementary payments By post: before going on to the subject THE VOICE, CPSA of climate change. Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Mr Jones explained that Surry Hills NSW 2010 the government was making small changes now so that our By email: children and grandchildren firstname.lastname@example.org didn’t have to make massive changes later. You must include your He then raised the subject name and suburb/town for of working after retirement the letter to be published, though these may be and explained some of the omitted in publication if the recent changes that allow letter contains personal people who wish to work information. Letters may be after retirement age to keep more of what they earn and edited for length and clarity. still retain some government CPSA Branch welcoming assistance. Members Finally he talked about The Foveaux Street measures the government Branch meets to discuss was putting in place to deal CPSA policy and campaigns with the ageing population at 10.15am on the second but ended by saying that the Friday of the month at CPSA ageing population should Head Office. If you are not be viewed as a problem interested in participating, but actually a testament to please call CPSA on 1800 the great country we live in 451 488. because people are living Reminder longer and living more fulfilled lives. CPSA has replaced the badge for ‘President’, He then invited questions Members. Club ‘Secretary’ and ‘Treasurer’ from with ‘Branch President’, members threw up topics as ‘Branch Secretary’ and diverse as arrangements for ‘Branch Treasurer’ badges. carers, immigration policy, Your existing badge will be employment and the NBN replaced free of charge by which Mr Jones answered posting the badge to Head thoroughly and in some cases Office and requesting a took Member’s details for a more detailed answer later. replacement.
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Members’ page CPSA Merchandise
Badges Membership : pin $4.50 Membership: magnet $4.50 Title Bar* + pendant $9.00 Title Bar* $5.00 Pendant $4.00 (*except Welfare Officer $10.15 Asst Soc. Sec.) $16.15 Cards Membership card $0.10 Waratah card $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 or gold $10.00 Do Not Knock Sticker - single sticker FREE - bulk order $1.00 each Tea caddy spoon $4.40
Penrith Branch is sad to report the passing of CPSA Life Member Mona Pizarro. She volunteered for Penrith for 28 years in various roles including most recently Welfare Officer. She was on Riverlands Area Council and was Riverlands Area Council Delegate to CPSA Council and was recently appointed to CPSA Executive. She passed surrounded by her family and died as she lived: with courage and compassion. She was a truly beautiful person. She was the best. The best mother, the best grandmother, the best friend, the best volunteer, the best everything she got involved in. ~ Rest in Peace ~ THE e-VOICE is available free on the Internet. Visit our website, www.cpsa.org.au, and sign up under THE VOICE - Subscribe
Friends of CPSA
What we do with the money
Please add postage to all items. CPSA Constitution THE CPSA Constitution with updates from the 2011 AGM is now available on our website. Visit www.cpsa.org.au and click ‘About Us’. If you would like a copy call Head Office on 1800 451 488. 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: P. Lenton
Garden of Remembrance
$100 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.
Friends of CPSA, like all CPSA Members, know how hard it is to live on a low, fixed income like a pension. In recognition of this, CPSA takes a long-term view on using Members’ bequests. We therefore don’t spend the bequest itself, but only the interest. The interest from CPSA bequests is used to fund CPSA’s campaigns for a better standard of living for pensioners, superannuants and low-income retirees. CPSA’s campaign to prevent the enforced sale of the family home was won with the support of CPSA bequest funding. Bequests help fund our campaigns such as for a fair rate of the pension, including dental care in Medicare and abolishing older driver testing. What could your bequest achieve? Making a bequest to CPSA is easy. Call 1800 451 488 in order to become our newest Friend of CPSA.
Sudoku Challenge Solution on back page
If you have any questions or would like a copy of the Constitution, please call Head Office on 1800 451 488. The Constitution is also available at www.cpsa.org.au. 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.
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. 4 August 2012
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
CPSA Campaigns From page 1 two more of their nursing When we contacted homes. While we applaud individual nursing homes their honesty, we hope they owned by BUPA, a not- will commit to installing for- profit multinational sprinklers in all of their organisation with 23 aged homes. But other major care facilities across NSW, we were referred to their organisations we contacted (like the Salvation Army, head office. However when we rang Baptist Community Services, head office, we were told and Anglicare) did not we could not have a direct confirm with us if they had number to ask for this fire sprinklers, or if they information, and instead planned to put them in. would have to email our However when we rang individual nursing homes request! We emailed our request run by some other big to BUPA, and received no organisations, such as Uniting response. BUPA spends a Care, some managers and lot of money advertising on directors of nursing where prime time television but frank about their situation. appears to have little time to One such person was provide information about Mullauna Village Hostel their aged care facilities. This manager, Zuzana Stofan. A information should be readily former manager of Quakers available to the public, not Hill Nursing Home, Zuzana says Mullauna is planning a kept hidden at head office. We are pleased to report, refurbishment and sprinkler however, that some of the installation in their facility in other larger organisations September. were very open about A big supporter of NSW the current status of their sprinkler legislation, Stofan facilities. Southern Cross urges other operators to Care plans to have all of their install systems and for NSW 29 facilities across NSW legislation to be put in place fitted with sprinkler systems urgently. “Are we waiting for similar accidents to happen?” by mid-2013. We also commend the she said. attitude of people like CPSA also had a surprising Calvary Care Retirement response when it asked Communities property nursing homes what they manager, Gerard Bowen, who thought of Domain Principal told us he believed everyone (the company that runs should be transparent about Quakers Hill Nursing Home) what fire safety systems they and its decision to install have in place in their nursing sprinklers in all of its nursing homes. homes. Two of Calvary’s 14 Many said they didn’t have facilities have sprinklers and any comment to make, while following the Quakers Hill others said “they can afford fire, they are considering it”, implying that, in contrast, installing fire sprinklers in their nursing home couldn’t. Tax Help The ATO’s Tax Help program provides free tax return assistance to low-income earners. If you need to complete a tax return, a tax help volunteer can help you to do so. In some cases people on low incomes do not need to lodge a return and a volunteer can work out if it is necessary in your case. If it isn’t, volunteers help fill out a non-lodgement form. To find out more or to make an appointment, call 13 28 61. Tax Help is available from July to October. August 2012
However one nursing home manager told us that, “morally”, Domain Principal had a responsibility to put sprinklers in all their homes. This manager we spoke to, like many others, was happy to give us her opinion, as long as her name was not published. We found that individual managers and directors of nursing were happy to tell us what they thought about Domain Principal’s move to put sprinklers in their homes, as long as we did not identify who they were. This underpins the secretive nature of NSW nursing home safety: many individual managers and nurses wanted to tell us how they felt about sprinklers, but would only do so anonymously. What does this say about an industry that we entrust to look after vulnerable residents? We applaud the openness of some nursing home managers, such as Beecroft Nursing Home’s Michala Page who described the Domain Principal decision as “excellent”, and of the many maintenance supervisors we spoke to directly who described it as “not before time”. Almost without exception, those we spoke to who were directly involved with maintenance and fire safety in NSW nursing homes, want sprinklers installed in the facilities they work in. CPSA calls for other big operators like BUPA, Anglicare, IRT and the Salvation Army to adopt an open attitude on their nursing homes, listen to the people who are working in their homes, and front up to this urgent issue. CPSA also calls on the NSW Government to enact legislation which makes fire sprinklers compulsory in all supported residential facilities across NSW.
Taxi Drivers subsidising themselves IT HAS been brought to CPSA’s attention that some taxi drivers have been abusing the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme. This scheme entitles eligible people with a severe and permanent disability to have half their taxi fare covered, up to $30 per trip. CPSA has received reports that some drivers are charging more than the metered fare and telling passengers that because their fare is subsidised they must agree to the inflated price. This not only hits the hip pocket of those on low incomes using the vouchers but is a fraudulent misuse of public money and something needs to be done. CPSA is calling for adequate checks to be put in place to ensure that taxi drivers are unable to charge users more than the metered fare and we have written to the Minister for Transport. CPSA Members who have come forward have noted feeling intimidated by the driver, so felt unable to dispute the amount added to their fare. Readers, we would like to hear from you if you have found yourself in a similar situation. You can call our Head Office on 1800 451 488. CPSA suggests that voucher users note the taxi number which is written on one of the backseat windows and is the same as the number plate. Alternatively, take note of the driver ID number which is usually up the front, near the rear view mirror. Doing this at the beginning of the journey provides a record should anything occur. It’s also handy information if you leave something behind!
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CPSA Member Benefit
6 August 2012
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
CPSA Conference 2012
Nominations for CPSA Executive In accordance with CPSA Constitution Rule 8.3.2 this announcement serves as the required notice in THE VOICE calling for nominations of candidates for election to CPSA Executive. Nominations must be: • submitted on the official form • signed by proposer, seconder and nominee • accompanied by a Curriculum Vitae • received before the deadline (outlined on the form) by the CPSA Returning Officer at 9 Gillis St, Dubbo NSW 2830 Nomination forms have been circulated to all Branches and Area Councils. If you would like a copy of the nomination form, please contact Head Office on 1800 451 488.
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Level 9, 28 Foveaux St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
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11, 12 and 13 September 2012
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If you’re interested please contact Habib or Barbara on (02) 9281 3588 or 1800 451 488 or by email: email@example.com by 7 September 2012
1800 451 488
CPSA Campaigns eHealth rollout has begun AUSTRALIA’S new personal electronic health record system (eHealth record) has begun. Since July people have been able to register for an eHealth record. This is an electronic summary of your key health information that you can share with your doctor, specialists and other health care providers. eHealth records are voluntary and you maintain control over who can access it. Information recorded includes immunisations, allergies, medications dispensed and summaries of doctor and hospital visits. It is intended to allow for better coordination of your health care, particularly if you have a chronic condition or complex care needs. While definitely useful in assisting people by not having to relay their medical history to a new doctor and risking omitting important details, some have expressed concerns around privacy. Patients decide which of their health providers can access their record. The only exception to this is in the case of an emergency when you are unable to give your consent. You can also nominate a
trusted person to manage your eHealth record. You can register for an eHealth record by phoning the eHealth Helpline on 1800 723 471 or through your local Medicare office. You can get more information at www. ehealth.gov.au Single gender ward hotline abolished but policy still “a priority” THE HOTLINE established for consumers concerned about being placed in a mixed gender hospital ward has been abolished, after receiving only 55 calls since it was established in 2010. Responding to a letter from CPSA, Minister for Health Jillian Skinner MP said that due to the low number of calls, the decision to discontinue the hotline was made in the interests of ensuring the most efficient and effective use of resources. Of the 55 calls made, 19 were for issues not related to same gender accommodation in hospitals. CPSA wrote to the Minister regarding the progress made by the NSW Government to ensure that same-sex wards are made available to all patients. CPSA is not surprised that
8 August 2012
such a low number of calls were made to the hotline. In its letter to the Minister, CPSA wrote that “despite assurances from NSW Health that all patients are made aware of this hotline through the provision of a brochure, CPSA has much anecdotal evidence suggesting that very few patients are receiving this information”. Furthermore, even where patients did receive the information, they were not necessarily able to make a call for a number of reasons (such as being too ill to make the call, a lack of faith that it will be worthwhile, or concerns that they would be seen as a troublemaker). The Minister stated that the Government shares CPSA’s view about the desirability of providing same gender accommodation, citing the NSW Health’s policy directive on Same Gender Accommodation. The policy directive aims to ensure that patients who stay overnight in a NSW public hospital do not have to sleep in a mixed-gender room or ward, use mixed bathroom facilities or pass through opposite sex areas to reach their own facilities. In making its decision to discontinue the hotline, the NSW Government has directed the Local Health Network Chief Executives to ensure that systems are in place to assist patients and their families and carers with questions about same gender accommodation and that this information is well publicised. CPSA encourages readers of THE VOICE to contact CPSA on 1800 451 488 if they know of, or have experienced, situations where single gender accommodation and/or information was not provided.
Medicare cashless THE July issue of THE VOICE discussed how Medicare missed an opportunity to remove an obstacle faced by many pensioners who simply don’t have the cash to pay the full medical fee upfront before getting a partial refund from Medicare. CPSA also wrote about this to the Minister for Human Services, who asked a senior bureaucrat to explain to CPSA why Medicare going cashless wasn’t used as an opportunity to transfer the Medicare refund straight into the doctor’s account, so that the patient only has to find the money for their cocontribution. The answer is that it’s up to the doctor. Medicare can do it, but the doctor needs to agree. 85 per cent of GPs already participate in online claiming or payment via a claimant cheque issued by Medicare to the doctor. It’s the specialists who are the problem. Only 25 per cent of them participate. It’s also the specialists who charge the most. The specialists’ excuse not to participate? They run a business all by themselves from different rooms. They’re not set up for online claiming or keeping track of Medicare claimants’ cheques. Is this good enough? No, it isn’t. CPSA will be campaigning for specialists to get with the program, as they say. A positive move to address elder abuse THE NSW Ageing Strategy was released last month and CPSA is very pleased that it includes provisions for an Abuse of Older People Helpline and Resource Unit. This helpline and resource
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
CPSA Campaigns centre will act as a onestop-shop for information, assistance, referral and data collection. It will also provide education and training for frontline workers, such as police and care workers. CPSA has been told that the staff will be well trained and provide easy-to-understand advice to older people, concerned friends, family and support workers. Support workers will be able to attend free training sessions available to service providers. The Abuse of Older People Helpline and Resource Unit will work to raise awareness about abuse and hold regular information sessions about the issue. According to a study by the Australian Institute of Criminology, about 50,000 NSW residents over the age of 65 face some form of abuse. In fact, the actual number of abuse victims is expected to be higher because abuse is so often unreported. Abuse often occurs within relationships built on trust, such as by family members, which makes it more difficult for an older person to speak out and also more difficult for an outsider to detect. Abuse of older people goes beyond physical abuse and includes sexual, psychological and emotional abuse. Financial abuse and neglect are the most common. Practical and positive action against the abuse of older people is long overdue and something for which CPSA has campaigned. Other announcements in the NSW Ageing Strategy include $500,000 towards funding computer training courses for older people and $550,000 to assist local councils in making town centres more accessible.
Don’t wait until it’s too late! The importance of planning for later life WE ALL hope to make our own decisions about our lives. But illness or accidents can mean that we may need to rely on other people to make decisions about our welfare, finances or medical treatment. As part of general life planning, it’s a great idea to make a will, appoint a power of attorney or an enduring guardian and make an advance care directive. These terms are often confusing and not a topic that people want to talk about. But the importance of doing so shouldn’t be ignored. A survey by Palliative Care Australia found that while two-thirds of Australians say that they would turn to family first to make decisions about their end-of-life care, 45 per cent said that they don’t think their families know what they want and over a third said that they think their wishes may be ignored. Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that over half thought their wishes would be ignored by health professionals. So we thought we’d outline how you go about ensuring that, if you are unable to speak for yourself, what you want to happen actually happens. While wills are something that most people have heard about, it is estimated that about 40 per cent of Australians don’t have one. If you don’t have this legal document, once you pass away your assets are split up depending on a Government formula and if you don’t have close relatives, your estate will be given to the Government. A power of attorney is a person or a trustee
organisation that you legally appoint to handle your finances while you are alive. You do not lose control of your finances and your attorney must manage your affairs according to your instructions. It can however be useful if you are unwell, for example. Unlike a power of attorney (which only covers property and money matters), an enduring guardian can make decisions for you on issues such as accommodation, health and services if you lose the capacity to make such decisions for yourself. You can appoint more than one person and you do not have to appoint close family members. It is important to remember that while you may be most comfortable appointing your spouse, as you age together there is also the potential for health and medical issues to affect their ability to make decisions on your behalf. An enduring guardianship only takes effect if you lose your capacity to make important decisions. Finally, an advance care directive is a document in which you determine the sort of medical treatment you would wish to receive if you need it when you are unable to make your own decisions. Sometimes called a ‘living will’, this is something you should discuss with family and your GP. It is common for people to wait until they are in a crisis situation to discuss these issues. By that time, not only is it sometimes too late but it is also best to do this when you are in a calm state of mind and able to think more objectively. A useful website has recently been launched by the NSW Government touching
on all these issues in detail, answering commonly asked questions. It also has an option for you to build your own plans. The web address is www. planningaheadtools.com.au If you don’t use the internet you can call LawAccess NSW which provides free legal advice and assistance in planning for later life. Their number is 1300 888 529. Fire brigade tax up for consideration The funding of NSW’s emergency services is under review. Currently the bulk of funding (74 per cent) is provided by a tax on insurance companies while the remaining gap is paid by the NSW and Local Governments. The NSW Government is pushing for fire and emergency services to be funded by a property-based levy, saying it’s unfair that those without insurance don’t contribute. While CPSA sees the merit in reviewing the emergency services funding system, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the reasons behind why people don’t have home and contents insurance. Many people just can’t afford it. In theory, switching to a tax based on property ownership may be more equitable. The idea is that insurance premiums will then drop. But there is no assurance that premiums will go down. And knowing insurance companies, it’s safe to say that their savings might not be passed on, so people will end up paying both the new tax and high premiums. Similarly, pensioners who cannot afford insurance are unlikely to be able to afford an additional tax. CPSA will be putting in
1800 451 488
CPSA Campaigns a submission calling on the Government to ensure that if a property-based levy is introduced, that pensioners and other low income earners are exempt so that they are not pushed into poverty. CPSA urges pensioners and those on low incomes to be part of the consultation process by visiting http://haveyoursay.nsw.gov. au/ESL Comments are being taken until 8 October 2012. A fine idea WITH the NSW Budget including a 12.5 per cent increase to traffic fines, we at THE VOICE thought it was best that we point out a new initiative aimed at assisting people pay off fine-related debt without coughing up most of their pension. A two year pilot scheme (in which people can undertake courses or unpaid work as a way of paying off fines) has just been made permanent. Open to anyone on a Centrelink payment, “Work and Development Orders” or WDOs, allow people to do volunteer work at an approved organisation at a rate of $30 per hour towards the fine. Or undertaking courses in financial counselling is also an option. There is no minimum fine amount and under the program people are able to reduce their debt by up to $1000 a month. Arranged through the State Debt Recovery Office and Legal Aid, as soon as a WDO is approved, all enforcement action is dropped and driver licence sanctions are lifted. To find out more, contact the WDO hotline on 1300 478 879 or send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org CPSA maintains that while recognising the importance of fines as a means of making sure that drivers stick to traffic 10
rules, the current regressive system is unfair. Those on lower incomes suffer more severe economic consequences as a result of fines than those on higher incomes. A sliding scale which takes into account capacity to pay, such as in a number of European nations, could be a good alternative to blanket fine rates.
that off-peak electric systems offer a cheap and efficient form of heating by utilising base-load energy at times when demand is very low. The Minister also noted that approximately two-thirds of households do not have the option of gas hot water from a reticulated system, arguing that it would be inequitable to force these consumers into other expensive options. It seems, then, that NSW Government households concerned abolishes phase-out of they would have to face an electric hot water systems expensive bill when their old THE NSW Government has electric system goes on the decided to not go ahead with blink can breathe a sigh of plans to phase out electric hot relief to some degree. water systems, arguing that CPSA recommends that the cost of doing so would be if you do eventually need too high for consumers. to replace your hot water The announcement by system, do your sums to see Minister for Resources and which system works out to Energy Chris Hartcher MP be the most economical to comes in response to a CPSA run. letter which sought assistance Gas, solar or heat pump for low-income households systems may initially cost needing a new hot water more than the traditional system when the phase out electric one, but they are commenced. likely to prove cheaper in In its letter to the Minister, the long run and are worth CPSA wrote that it welcomed considering if you can afford moves towards a more energy the additional cost upfront. efficient system that would result in not only better environmental outcomes but also in households saving money. The letter also noted that CPSA “is concerned that many low-income households may find it difficult to fund a transition from an electric storage water heater to an environmentally better solution”. CPSA requested that, given energy efficient systems are cheaper to run and will pay for themselves in the long run, the Government consider a concessional loan scheme for low-income households to help them with the switch. In his response to CPSA, Minister Hartcher said that it is the Government’s position
Older Driver Testing headed for the scrap heap? OLDER drivers may soon be doing a celebratory doughnut or two. The NSW Government, after driving with the handbrake on for a year, has finally started its promised review of Older Driver Testing. The Older Driver Taskforce has now met twice. The expectation is that it will finish up its work before Christmas this year. CPSA is represented on the Taskforce and is advocating for the abolition of the driving test for people over 85. It is hoped that NSW will eventually follow Tasmania and other Australian states and, indeed, the developed world generally, where older driver testing no longer gets a look-in. Until any changes occur, the current test will remain in place. While the current test is not as draconian as the previous one, it is still an unnecessary imposition. Initial statistics seem to suggest that this ‘lighter’ test has not made NSW roads less safe.
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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 (02) 9521 7964 1300 308 353 No Interest Loans Scheme 1800 509 994
Guardianship Tribunal Financial management orders for people with decisionmaking disabilities 1800 463 928 Seniors Information Service 13 12 44 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
Commonwealth CareLink Info about aged and community care 1800 052 222 Office of Hearing Services Subsidised hearing aids 1800 500 726
NSW Ombudsman’s Office Complaints about NSW Government agencies 1800 451 524 NSW Trustee and Guardian 1300 360 466 August 2012
Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 Private Health Insurance Ombudsman Complaints and information 1300 737 299 VisionCare NSW Subsidised spectacles (02) 9344 4122 1800 806 851
Home Care Service NSW Domestic assistance, respite and personal care 1800 044 043 Rape Crisis Centre 24hours/7days 1800 424 017 Health Care Complaints Commission NSW only (02) 9219 7444 1800 043 159 Carers NSW Information, support 1800 242 636 Emergency respite 1800 059 059 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 Public Dental Health Services Call NSW Health for details (02) 9391 9000 1800 639 398 Medicare Enhanced Primary Care Dental Scheme Call Medicare for details 132 011 People with Disabilities Advice for people with a disability (02) 9370 3100 1800 422 016 Exit Australia Information about euthanasia 1300 103 948 Dying with Dignity NSW (02) 9212 4782 Australian Men’s Shed Association 1300 550 009
HOUSING 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 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 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
1800 451 488
Giggle Page Getting richer with age I have silver in my hair, gold in my teeth, crystals in my kidney, sugar in my blood, lead in my butt, iron in my arteries and an inexhaustible supply of natural gas. Cereal effects Sometimes I think I may have eaten too many “Rice Bubbles” in my youth, as I’m sure Snap, Crackle and Pop have taken up residence in my bones. Court room blunders LAWYER: WITNESS: LAWYER: WITNESS:
What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning? He said, ‘Where am I, Cathy?’ And why did that upset you? My name is Susan!
LAWYER: Can you describe the individual? WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard. LAWYER: Was this a male or a female? WITNESS: Unless the circus was in town I’m going with male. LAWYER: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he? WITNESS: He’s 20, much like your IQ. LAWYER: Do you recall the time that you examined the body? WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30pm. LAWYER: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time? WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
Not so healthy lifestyles I’m on a fitness kick. Anybody mentions fitness, I kick `em. Inside me lives a skinny person crying to get out. But it’s okay, I can usually shut them up with cake. A customer walks into a café and orders a Coke. “Is Diet Coke okay?” asks the waiter. “Is Monopoly money okay?”
Sudoku Solution Sudoku Grid on page 4
The Giggle Page in the July 2012 issue of THE VOICE featured a joke, ‘Washing Wonders’. A couple of VOICE readers contacted us to say they were upset about the content of the joke. THE VOICE apologises if the item caused any offense. 12
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW