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ISSN 10353615

Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

Celebrating 80 years of service

Your gift to nursing home barons

YOU MAY not realise it, but the Australian Government is about to take possession of the homes of just about all older Australians who need aged care. The Australian Government will make you sell or reverse mortgage your house to pay for aged care, unless you have substantial other assets. Not just if you or your partner needs to go into a nursing home. 1

It is not limited to that. The Australian Government is also taking over Home Care from State and Territory Governments and will make you pay. Well over a million households will end up having to sell or reverse mortgage their home to pay for aged care, both at home and in nursing homes. The Australian Government is about to include your house,

Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

for which you worked hard, in the means test for aged care. If you need help with cleaning or with home maintenance through Home Care, you will probably need to reverse mortgage your house. If your partner needs to go into a nursing home, you can keep living in your house, but you don’t own it anymore. It will be reverse mortgaged. If you don’t want to lose

your house, you need to let the Australian Government know what you think about this outrage. THE VOICE suggests you use the form letter inserted in this issue to write to Prime Minister Julia Gillard to make your views known. For more details on what the Australian Government wants to do with your home, read ‘Your house for a nursing home’ on page 6.


Letters CPSA Executive (as at 2.11.2010)

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 Margaret Craven-Scott Jim Grainda Marie Mihell Colin Vernon Barbara Wright



Phone: 1800 451 488 Fax: (02) 9281 9716 Email: Production: Antoine Mangion, Joel Tozer & 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.

Letter to Prime Minister regarding aged care DEAR Prime Minister The Foveaux Street Branch of CPSA is writing to you concerning the Productivity Commission’s report ‘Caring for Older Australians’. You have asked members of the public to contact your Government to express our views on the report. We are greatly concerned about some aspects of the report, particularly those that recommend extending bonds to high care. CPSA has been opposed to bonds for aged care since the time of Prime Minister Howard and we remain opposed to them, whether they are implemented by the selling of an aged person’s home or by the raising of mortgages to pay for accommodation. We believe that the provision of infrastructure in aged care is the responsibility

No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information contained in advertisements or text supplied by other organisations or individuals and/or typographical errors. CPSA does not support or promote the products or views in paid advertising. 2

to care for residents. We believe that similar funding should be available to those who opt to stay in their homes, in order to help them with the care that they need. There are some aspects of the Commission’s report with which we agree, but we hope that our objections, as indicated in this correspondence, will be taken into consideration when your Government is reaching its final deliberations on ‘Caring for Older Australians’. June Gabriel Foveaux Street CPSA Branch Discussion needed on Voluntary Euthanasia PLEASE consider my opinion seriously as I am not an old fanatic but an upstanding, hardworking senior. A lot of nursing homes are owned by overseas companies and some of their biggest profit is made by exploiting old people until

Donations, Bequests, Membership and THE VOICE subscriptions Membership is open to all who support the aims and objectives of CPSA


of government and that aged care residents should not be forced to ‘lend’ money for infrastructure in which they will hold no equity. We point out that nowhere else in the health system are patients asked to provide such large up-front amounts in order to receive care. We agree with the proposal to keep the elderly in their homes for as long as possible, as an alternative to early entry to a facility. However, we believe that home care should be properly supervised and that good care should not depend on the recipient’s ability to pay. The majority of elderly people needing care are handicapped in their movements and should be eligible for the kind of help that the Government is now offering to younger people with disability. Until now, the Government has provided per-bed funding to nursing home proprietors

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). 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

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Letters the money runs out and, of course, no money means not much loving care. I believe that one of an overseas company’s most lucrative investments is older people in nursing homes and accommodation for the aged. Not all of these institutions are like this but some are when it comes to money. If I am confined in a private institution, helpless, and suffer the terrible indignities of not being able to perform any bodily functions, the laws of this land prevent me from dying with any sort of dignity. I have paid, and still am paying, tax, but I am denied my democratic right. When I die, I will still be paying tax on a nursing home and then on a funeral! When one’s life is completely beyond repair, one should have the right to fight to the bitter end for a quick and peaceful death, but I know it is like trying to turn a pyramid upside down. I have worked very hard all my life and I object strongly to giving the costs of my care to a foreign company which does not want me to die as long as my money lasts. One should be allowed to have access to voluntary euthanasia, to die with dignity and not be kept alive for the financial gain of anyone else. There are many of my friends and acquaintances who agree that voluntary euthanasia should be made available after consultation with specialists in this field and who should be selected to form an ethics committee. Jack Munro Dubbo, NSW

really enjoyed the informative guest speakers. The venue and the food were excellent. The subsidy for my hotel and my complimentary train ticket were lifesavers and greatly appreciated, particularly this year with living costs rising so quickly. CPSA staff are all so friendly and approachable. This was my second Conference and my two days’ attendance were a pleasure. I hope I will be privileged to attend again next year. Margaret Cuddihy Grenfell, NSW

Conferencev very much appreciated I WOULD like to thank CPSA for the warm welcome I received at Conference. I

Another happy Conference attendee I am so pleased that I became a Member of CPSA. In such a short time I have learnt so much. I think all the people I have met are the most amazing, intelligent, feisty bunch yet! I suffer with social phobia, but I have felt immediately comfortable in the company of those I met. The Conference was an eye-opener and seems to be a great success with the lunch, refreshments and the social gathering so pleasant. I’m glad to have met with individuals who could provide me with additional information. I have promoted CPSA with friends and acquaintances and have encouraged them to join. I am also in the process of joining People with Disabilities as I feel that some issues are best supported by a more relevant body. There may be the isolated issue of the majority of CPSA Members I don’t personally agree with, however, I will give full support as a CPSA Member. For now, I wish CPSA and its many good people all the very best. Name and Address Supplied

Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

Volunteer insurance for CPSA Branches

Send a letter to THE VOICE

Despite ongoing frustrations with the Head Office volunteer insurance provider, especially their recent four-fold increases in premiums to some Branches, they provide the most affordable policy we can find that does not reduce or cancel the payout if volunteers are over a certain age. For several years, Head Office has continued to advocate for volunteer insurance to cover Branch Members.

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

The insurer is now providing volunteer insurance at around $100 per Branch for up to seven Branch volunteers working at one time. We recognise that this may still prove too expensive for some Branches but we have not yet found a better alternative. Contact Nikki at Head Office on 1800 451 488 for more information.

CPSA Honour Board

CPSA - who we are

The CPSA Honour Board, generously donated by the Penrith Seniors & Pensioners’ Club, is proudly displayed in Head Office’s reception area.

CPSA was founded in 1931 in response to pension cuts. CPSA is a non-profit, nonparty-political membership association which serves pensioners of all ages, superannuants and lowincome retirees. The aim of CPSA is to improve the standard of living and well-being of its Members and constituents.

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The Honour Board acknowledges bequests made by CPSA Members. If you are thinking of making or updating your Will and would like information about making a bequest to CPSA so your name can be added to the Board, please contact Head Office on 1800 451 488. Whatever the size of the bequest, it all helps fund CPSA’s campaigns.


Members’ page CPSA Merchandise

Badges Membership : pin Membership: magnet Title Bar* + pendant Title Bar* Pendant (*except Welfare Officer Asst Soc. Sec.) Cards Membership card Waratah card Card wallet Certificate (80/90 years/Appreciation) Emergency medical information book Leather key ring Letter opener: silver or gold Do Not Knock Sticker Tea caddy spoon

Garden of Remembrance $4.50 $4.50 $9.00 $5.00 $4.00 $10.15 $16.15 $0.10 $1.00 $3.30 $1.10 $2.00 $5.50 $10.00 FREE $4.40

Olga Callender, a long standing member of the West Wallsend Combined Pensioners Association, passed away on Monday 17 October 2011 aged 80 years. Nigel Dark of Barraba Branch was President of the Mid North Coast Area Council until it closed last year. He will be sadly missed. Penny Ferguson, long-time Member and prolific correspondant, passed away on 14 October 2011. She will be missed. “Kindness: I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it now, let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” ~ Rest in Peace ~

Please add postage to all items. Reminder


CPSA has replaced the President/Secretary/Treasurer badges with Branch President, Branch Secretary, Branch Treasurer badges. Your existing badge will be replaced free of charge by posting the badge to Head Office and requesting a replacement.

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 e-VOICE is available on the internet. Visit our website, and sign up through the link: THE VOICE - Subscribe

Condition of CPSA Membership

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.

P. Lenton


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.

Crossword by Hilda Thorburn



1. Idlers (6-7) 8. ... Crusoe 9. Spiteful 10. Minsk is there 11. Italian currency before the Euro 12. Is opposed to (2,4) 14. Ruler 17. Before ..., dawn 20. City of Pakistan 23. Midday 24. Apprenticed 25. Performing rites 26. Large buildings 27. Frightening novels (6,7)

1. Large cat 2. Mythical horse 3. Miming 4. Eye condition 5. Striped equine 6. Noisy American viper 7. Musical term 13. Some 15. Rudolph ..., film actor 16. ...-Gothic, style of architecture 18. Eliminate 19. Inertia 21. Harry ..., escape artist 22. Marijuana cigarettes 24. Snow-shelter

Answers on back page 4

Dec 2011 - Jan 2012


CPSA Campaigns Carbon Tax Legislation passes – how it affects you THE CARBON tax legislation has been passed, including the promised compensation mechanisms. The vast majority of retirees will receive either a direct payment to compensate them for price increases due to the carbon tax or will benefit from new tax breaks, or both. Clean energy supplement

Pension payments will include a new supplement, called the Clean Energy Supplement, in addition to the Pension Supplement. The Clean Energy Supplement is set at 1.7 per cent of the Pension plus the Pension Supplement. It is indexed twice a year at the same time as the Pension and Pension Supplement. Indexation will be according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Clean Energy Supplement will be calculated on the basis of the pension after it has been indexed in March 2012, so a precise amount is not yet known. However, it will be around $12 a fortnight for singles and $18 for couples. The Clean Energy Supplement is not set at the expected cost-of-living increase of 0.7 per cent, but

at 1.7 per cent. Pensioners get an extra 1 per cent. The Clean Energy Supplement will start at the same time as the carbon tax, 1 July 2012.

starts to be paid periodically, inflation will have eaten into that additional 1 per cent. The Clean Energy Supplement will be indexed for the first time on 20 March 2013 on the basis of Clean Energy Advance movements in the Consumer However, pensioners will Price Index (CPI) from 1 July receive about nine months’ 2012 to 31 December 2012. worth of Clean Energy The additional 1 per cent in Supplements in one hit over the Clean Energy Supplement May and June 2012. The will therefore continue to Government says this lump act as a buffer against CPI sum payment is “to ensure increases insofar as they Australians have extra money relate to the carbon tax. in their pockets to help adjust It’s a pity no such buffer exists for the Pension to the carbon price”. The Clean Energy Advance Supplement and the pension will be around $215 for itself. singles and $325 for couples. Indexation

While that is certainly the effect, the decision to give pensioners an additional 1 per cent in their supplement and pay them nine months in advance has mainly to do with synchronising indexation of the Clean Energy Supplement and the pension itself. The initial payment of nine months’ worth of supplement means that the supplement is not indexed for nine months and that’s why the initial supplement is set higher than it needs to be: by the time the Clean Energy Supplement

This month, CPSA would like to acknowledge those generous Members who have included CPSA in their Will: the Friends of CPSA. They recognised that it’s hard to support their Association right now (after all, a low retirement income doesn’t generally leave much in the way of spending money).  But by making a bequest in their will, they can help keep CPSA strong by supporting their Association for many years to come. A bequest is easy, doesn’t cost you anything, and helps us ensure Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

Tax breaks

The vast majority of pensioners and other retirees currently pay no income tax. That is set to continue. Most of those who do pay income tax will find that they will pay less in the 2012 – 2013 financial year and thereafter. The taxfree threshold will increase from $6,000 now to $18,200 from 1 July 2012 and to $19,400 in July 2015. Tax rates will go up, but you will need a substantial taxable income to be paying the same amount of tax or more tax.

Friends of CPSA

that there’s a CPSA for the future generations of people just like you. A bequest can be as small or as large as you like. A small percentage of your estate, for example, would only have a minimum impact on other beneficiaries but, when added together with bequests of other kindhearted people like yourself, it makes a huge difference to CPSA.

The Pensioner Tax Offset and the Senior Australians Tax Offset will be merged and will continue as the Senior Australians and Pensioners Tax Offset.

CPSA’s ‘Do Not Knock’ Stickers Households are often bothered by door-todoor salespeople and marketers trying to get them to switch their energy retailer. CPSA has produced a ‘Do Not Knock’ sticker that can be placed neatly on your door so that salespeople will quickly and quietly get the message that their call is unwanted. Call CPSA Head Office on 1800 451 488 to order your free sticker.

decided to make a bequest. The Friends of CPSA have already taken this step of ensuring a future for pensioners of all ages, superannuants and low-income retirees. Will you? For more information, or for a booklet on how to make a bequest, please call Nikki or Kate on 1800 451 488.

In the next four editions, we’re going to publish a little about each of our Friends of CPSA, and why they

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Aged Care Reforms Your house for a nursing home CPSA’s view on the Productivity Commission’s aged care proposals is that if they were to be implemented, Australia’s aged care system would become a lot more expensive for the people it serves, without improving access or quality. We would end up with the system much as it is now, only a lot more expensive, courtesy of the home equity of millions of older Australians. There are other constraints besides aged care funding and supply of aged care places that will ensure continued lack of supply and lack of quality. Currently aged care assessments officially marked as ‘urgent’ take many weeks to be carried out. The sheer lack of qualified nursing staff means many more weeks pass before ‘urgently required’ aged care is actually delivered. When care is delivered, care providers’ ability to maximise accommodation charges will mean that they will prefer to deliver care in nursing homes, while consumers generally want it delivered in their own homes. The big change The change to the aged care means test is the most important thing in the Productivity Commission’s aged care report released early last month. Everything flows from this change. The means test for aged care, the Productivity Commission says, should also include assets not included in the asset test for the pension. This is where the family home is brought into the means test. It’s a dramatic and revolutionary change. Most 6

people over 65 own their own home. In fact, 84 per cent do so. Sooner or later, every home owner needing aged care will be forced to tap into the money locked into their home. If you don’t own your own home and have no other assets, care is free right from the start – whether in a nursing home or in the community – and you will be a concessional care recipient in a nursing home and your own home. If you own a home or have other assets, you will need to pay three types of cost: (1) care costs; (2) accommodation costs; (3) living expenses.

2) Accommodation costs

1) Care costs

3) Living expenses

You will pay up to 25 per cent of your care costs, whether you are in a nursing home, on a Community Aged Care Package or receiving home care. Note that you will also need to pay up to 25 per cent of the true costs of home care under the Home and Community Care (HACC) program. The price of care will be set by the Government. You will be up for a lifetime maximum of $60,000 in care costs per person. A typical Community Aged Care Package costs about $25,000 a year, which means the annual cost to you could be over $6,000. The average nursing home care costs are about $35,000 a year, which means the annual cost to you could be almost $9,000 a year. Once the meter reaches $60,000, care is free, and you become a concessional care recipient.

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You will pay 100 per cent of your accommodation costs if you go into a nursing home. The price of nursing home accommodation will be set by the nursing home. It will vary from nursing home to nursing home, depending on the location and on what the nursing home thinks the market will bear. There’s no limit to the total amount of accommodation costs you will pay. The Productivity Commission uses an accommodation charge of $50 a day, or $18,250 per year. That may seem a little optimistic. Nursing homes will be required to publish their accommodation charges. The contribution towards living expenses for nursing home residents remains unchanged. It will continue at 84 per cent of the full rate single pension. How would you like to pay for that? Overwhelmingly, the care cost co-contributions and accommodation charges will be paid for out of the proceeds of owner-occupied housing, either as a result of immediate or delayed sale. The Productivity Commission has proposed a number of schemes: 1) Australian Age Pensioners Savings Account

This is an account administered by the Government. It only takes one kind of deposit: the proceeds from the sale of the principal residence. That can be all the proceeds or left-over proceeds following

downsizing. Whatever the balance in the account, it will be exempt from the Age Pension test. But it won’t be exempt from the aged care means test, so you’ll end up using it to fund your care. 2) Australian Aged Care Home Credit Scheme

This is a reverse mortgage in anybody’s book. The Government goes on the title deed as mortgagee. Your house gets valued and an amount is determined up to which you can borrow against your house. If you are a couple, each person can use half of that amount to fund aged care. As you receive aged care, the meter starts ticking and a debt starts to accumulate, boosted by compound interest charged at the Consumer Price Index rate. Once the pre-determined amount, or your share of that amount, has been reached, everything stops, including compound interest. The debt is paid when the house is sold, commonly when you, or you and your partner, have died. If you had a live-in carer when you went into a nursing home or received home-based aged care, the carer won’t have to move out, but once they do, the house will be sold to pay the aged care debt. 3) Accommodation bonds

The distinction between low care and high care will be abolished, and accommodation bonds can be offered for all types of nursing home care. But the amount of the bond must be tied to the accommodation charge set by the nursing home. This means that the


Aged Care Reforms nursing home can only use the investment return and principal of the bond to meet published accommodation charges. In other words, the current practice by care providers (setting the bond roughly at the value of your house and simply pocketing all of the investment return plus a portion of the principal) will be illegal. Bonds can only be used by care recipients to pay for accommodation charges. You will still have to pay for your living expenses and care cocontribution cost separately. Choice, quality, competition Over a period of more than five years, bed licences and community aged care packages will be phased out. You will be able to choose whether you want homebased aged care, and from which provider, or whether you want to go into a nursing home and which one. People without the ability to pay will also be able to choose between residential and home-based aged care.

FREE help to save power

Want to find out ways to reduce your power use and While at your home, the energy expert will also install save money off bills? a power savings kit, worth around $200 that contains devices such as a standby saver power board, energy If you’re a NSW resident and have a Centrelink or efficient light globes, a shower timer, draught-proofing, Veterans’ Affairs card, or are an energy utility hardship a thermometer and more. customer or a social housing tenant, you may be eligible to receive a free in-home power assessment and a free The program is completely free and can help participants Power Savings Kit from the NSW Government. save an average of $265 a year off their bills. CPSA is working with the Office of Environment and Eligible households can call 1300 662 416 today to Heritage to help promote the Home Power Savings join the program or visit Program. freehelp for more information. By taking part in the program you’ll get a visit from an energy expert who will: • show you how much your appliances cost to run; • point out your top power users; and • give you tailored advice on how your household can save – without compromising your comfort. Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

If you’re not eligible for the program, the Save Power website provides a range of tips and resources to help you become more energy efficient. Topics covered include efficient heating, cooling, refrigeration and lighting. Some of the information is available in languages other than English. Visit www.savepower.

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CPSA Member Benefit


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CPSA Conference 2011 This year’s CPSA Annual Conference began with a celebration marking 80 years since the inception of CPSA in NSW. The Conference was held at the Salvation Army Congress Hall on 25 and 26 October, with a turnout of more than 90 people. Conference attendees worked through a number of policy issues, including aged care, transport and cost of living pressures. But it wasn’t all hard work, with delicious tea breaks and lunches, as well as a number

of interesting presentations from guest speakers. CPSA was fortunate enough to have NSW Minister for Ageing and Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, officially open the conference. Speaking about the pressures caused by an increasingly ageing  population,  Minister Constance announced the development of a NSW whole-of-government Ageing Strategy to address the issue. “Population ageing is not just an issue for government;

Minister Andrew Constance

it is a whole-of-community responsibility,” Minister Constance said. “The O’Farrell Government is committed to working with corporate and community sectors to achieve its vision.” An ageing roundtable held in September saw a number of key issues put forward for the Strategy, such as accessible transport, reforming the Home and Community Care Scheme and helping people plan for later life. One immediate outcome from the roundtable was to celebrate the role

of grandparents in the community, with the State’s inaugural Grandparents Day held on Sunday 30 October. After officially opening the Conference, Minister Constance acknowledged CPSA Members, Magdeline Sillis and Connie Drover, who were awarded Association Life Memberships. During the Annual General Meeting, an election was held for six members of the CPSA Executive. The new CPSA Executive is listed on page 2.

Elysian Mitchell and Mona Pizarro receive Silver Bough Awards, presented by CPSA President Grace Selway. The Award was also given to Amelia Morrison and Carolyn Norris, who were unable to attend, and the late Betty Kircher.

CPSA Secretary Bob Jay cuts the cake celebrating 80 years of CPSA Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

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CPSA Conference 2011 Conference speakers Conference hosted three speakers: Professor Jane Mears, Dr Sara Graham and Ms Sarah Fogg. All speakers provided Conference attendees with food for thought on a number of important issues. Professor Jane Mears, from the School of Social Science at the University of Western Sydney, offered some solutions for preventing violence and abuse against older people. Having a long history of research and publications on issues that affect older people, Professor Mears is concerned that many people are unable to spot the signs of abuse. “The overarching message is that violence does not stop at the age of 45,” she said. “Everyone is entitled to enjoy respectful relationships in the family and community.” The various types of abuse

can include financial, emotional, social, neglect and sexual. Professor Mears said abuse can often be prevented by educating older people to assert their rights, staying connected with those around you and raising community awareness about abuse. Dr Sarah Graham, from Advance Care Directive Association, spoke about a written statement that details a person’s wishes for health treatment and personal care. Dr Graham outlined the Advance Care Directive for people who suddenly become unable to express their wishes for treatment or care. The directive is a legally binding document if it is written and the person completely understands what they are doing at the time of signing the statement. It can only be used in the case that you are unable to state your wishes.

Dr Graham said that writing a Directive can reduce the chance of disagreement between family members and perhaps even avoid an unwanted prolonged dying process. She recommended that before filling out a Directive, people discuss the process with their family and their GP. Copies of the Directive should be given to the people who may have to make the final decision for you, such as a family member or a solicitor. On the second day of conference, Sarah Fogg, from The Benevolent Society, spoke about the Apartments for Life project that is currently being developed in Sydney. The project, which will be based in Bondi, will provide a new type of housing for older people, with care and support provided on-site. The Apartments for Life

concept was first tested in the Netherlands in 1995 and is based on the premise that roughly 95 per cent of people living in nursing homes do not actually need to be there. The main philosophy of the project is to create apartments that allow residents to live as independently as possible in their older age. This includes making sure the design of the apartment suits a range of needs and ages. The apartments are also located close to essential services such as transport and shopping centres, as well as community care and other services. The Sydney project will be offered to people from a range of backgrounds, including low-income earners and people with a low value property. It is expected that the 44 apartments in Bondi will be completed at the end of this year.

Conference Speakers Prof Jane Mears (left), Dr Sarah Graham (centre) and Sarah Fogg (right).


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CPSA Campaigns $$$$ or lives? Sydney nursing home fire kills 3 ON 18 November 2011, fire swept through the 100-bed Quakers Hill Nursing Home in Sydney’s north-west. On the day, three people were confirmed dead and thirteen were in hospital with serious injuries. Eighty-six residents were evacuated with lesser injuries, but very likely with severe psychological trauma. At the moment of writing there are many more questions than there are answers. Unofficial reports spoke of the Quakers Hill Nursing Home not being equipped with a sprinkler system. It also appears the company running the home is evasive about how many staff were on duty, which would suggest there were not all that many. THE VOICE understands that the Building Code of Australia requires nursing homes to have a sprinkler system. Investigations will no doubt reveal whether or not the Quakers Hill Nursing Home was built before that requirement came into force. Regardless of any requirement to have a sprinkler system, the question needs to be asked whether aged care providers do not have a duty of care to their residents to have a sprinkler system that quickly douses a fire before it can take hold and before smoke develops to the point where it kills, as it did in the Quakers Hill Nursing Home. The Quakers Hill Nursing Home is licensed for 100 beds, 95 of which are high care beds. This means that the majority of residents would have been mobility impaired or have had dementia. They were in no fit state to evacuate

themselves from the nursing home. Many aged care providers, certainly the for-profit ones, tend to play things by the book. If something as essential as a sprinkler system is not required, they are loath to spend the money to put one in. The Quakers Hill Nursing Home is not owned by some Mickey Mouse type of operation. It is owned by Principal Healthcare Finance Number 3 Pty Ltd (Principal). According to business intelligence website Company360 this “is the registered business name of the company trading as Principal Aged Care, which is part of the Domain Principal Group. The company is the largest owner of for-profit aged care facilities in Australia following its acquisition of Domain Aged Care in January 2008. “Principal Aged Care is owned by fund manager AMP Capital Investors Ltd. The company operates 39 aged care nursing homes and eight assisted living facilities across Australia. [..] For the financial year ended 31 December 2010, the company reported revenue of $198.86 million, with a net profit of $895,000.” During 2011, according to Company360, “Principal continued to focus on cost saving and operational integration initiatives started out in 2009, which saw the companies (sic) profits increase by approximately 9 per cent.” Company360 concludes its blurb on the owner of the Quakers Hill Nursing Home by saying that nursing homes are “ increasingly seen as an attractive investment opportunity for

Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

fund managers as Australia’s population ages and provides a higher return than many investments. The Australian noted in January 2008 that ‘during the year the S&P/ASX Healthcare Index returned 24.1 per cent compared to the S&P/ASX200 Index’s 11.8 per cent.’ The aged and health care investment sector also saw stocks and portfolios suffer far less in the share market falls of 2008 than other blue chip counterparts.” Remember this next time you hear a nursing home baron crying poor. THE VOICE, with the invaluable assistance of Melbourne-based Aged Care

Crisis, will be following investigations into this tragedy closely. Three strikes likely for Labor over dental axing THE AUSTRALIAN Government’s attempts to scrap the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme are, at the time of writing, heading for rejection for a third time. According to the Sun Herald (6 November 2011) and Sydney Morning Herald (7 November 2011) the Government’s own dentistry advisory panel wants the scheme retained while The Greens, which hold the balance of power, and the Liberal-National Coalition are again not lending support

Special Disability Trust Parents often make arrangements for the care and accommodation needs of someone in their family who has severe disability. Parents or other immediate family members can set up a Special Disability Trust if you have a severe disability. A Special Disability Trust can be used to pay for your future care and accommodation needs with eligible contributors receiving up to $500,000 combined in concessions from the gifting rules. Recent changes to both social security and tax rules have made it easier to set up and use a Special Disability Trust. If you are the beneficiary of a Special Disability Trust, the changes mean that from 1 January 2011: - you may work up to seven hours a week at or above the relevant minimum wage - your trust can pay for your medical expenses, including private health fund membership, and maintenance expenses of the trust’s property - your trust can spend up to $10 000 in a financial year on things not related to your care and accommodation needs. Before you set up a trust If your family is thinking about setting up a Special Disability Trust for you, it is important to talk to Centrelink first. You need to be assessed against certain criteria to be granted status as an eligible beneficiary. For more information, about these and other changes to Special Disability Trusts go to the Special Disability Trusts page on or call Centrelink’s Special Disability Trust team on FreeCALL™ 1800 734 750.

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CPSA Campaigns to the Government on the issue. If the Government is successful in having the scheme axed, it will end at the end of December 2011. Labor has not given any assurances as to what will happen to patients who are still receiving treatment under the scheme when it closes. Nor will there be any federal funding for dental care for at least six months. New funding may come through from the next Budget. This would leave only the state public dental systems (which currently have around 500,000 people on waiting lists) which will not be able to deliver the comprehensive treatment provided under the Medicare scheme. All sorts of tactics have been used to discredit the

current Medicare scheme by the Government and particular interest groups such as the Australian Dental Association. A common argument used by both is that the scheme is poorly targeted – ‘even a millionaire can use the scheme’. Forgetting that highincome earners would not wait for Medicare treatment and are much less likely to have poor dental health to begin with, it was recently revealed that 80% of the scheme’s patients have Centrelink Health Care Cards and another study showed that most patients are of retirement age. Another of the Government’s tactics has been to go after dentists in an attempt to ‘uncover’ widespread rorting.

Even if rorting has taken place, the Government shouldn’t be punishing patients for its own failure to establish proper regulatory mechanisms. Regardless, research by the Association for the Promotion of Oral Health, however, has shown that this has not taken place with most patients having used well below the maximum of $4,250 provided by Medicare and costs per patient have decreased over time. According to the Sun Herald the advisory council is resisting axing the program but may recommend meanstesting or tighter targeting in its draft report to be released in December 2011. If the Opposition and the Greens maintain their stance, it will make for some interesting viewing. Labor has not funded the scheme past December despite needing parliamentary approval to abolish it. Fight for Medicare dental continues WHILE Labor looks to axe the only public dental scheme which has provided affordable comprehensive treatment to patients, members of the Alliance for Universal Dental Health Insurance, which includes CPSA, have stepped up their campaign to have dental care included under Medicare, sighting the next Budget as the time for action. It comes as The Greens also push the Australian Government to commit to a $5 billion universal scheme in the 2012 Budget, even if it means a budget surplus won’t be reached by 2012/13. Labor’s minority government pledged last May to move on dental treatment in 2012 (when it thought the Budget wouldn’t be so tight).


Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

At the time it promised that “significant reforms to dental health will be a priority for the 2012/13 budget”. The Alliance has called on the Government to deliver a universal dental system under Medicare by expanding the current Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme. Associate Professor Hans Zoellner, Chair of the Association for the Promotion of Oral Health said “Dental Medicare is the only sensible solution … (it) will also push down dental prices via bulk-billing competition and, by funding dental services in poor suburbs, make it possible for private dentists to setup-shop to deliver treatment where it is needed”. The Alliance is pushing for a universal dental scheme to be built out of the current Medicare scheme, which is only open to those who suffer from a chronic medical condition. Research by Dr Zoellner’s Association has shown that there has been a significant reduction in the cost of the current Medicare scheme on a per patient basis over time, as patients move from initial costly and restorative treatment to low-cost maintenance therapy. “This provides the first statistical evidence that the cost of dental Medicare is inherently self-limiting,” their research paper stated. “As a consequence, it is possible to plan gradual expansion of dental Medicare to eventually include the entire Australian population, in a way that is financially responsible”. The Greens, who agreed to support Labor in minority Government partly on the basis that dental funding will be delivered through Medicare, are becoming


CPSA Campaigns more restless. Their proposal for a $5 billion Medicare scheme follows what CPSA and other Alliace members have been advocating for. Their scheme will incorporate the current Medicare scheme and cost $1.5 billion next year and will gradually expand to include everyone in proper Medicare fashion. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald (7 November 2011), Greens Health spokesman, Richard Di Natale said, “[Labor] promised us Medicarefunded dentistry and we have been patient”. Echoing Dr Zoellner’s oftused argument, Di Natale continued, “I can’t think of a reason why care for most of our bodies should be covered by Medicare but care for what’s in our mouths should not.” Fair calls for mobile users on their way MOBILE phone users will soon have a fairer

deal, after the Australian Communications and Media Authority committed to ending the high cost of calls to 1800 and 13 numbers from mobiles. Peak communications consumer advocacy body, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), was celebrating the announcement which was largely the result of its ‘Fair Calls for All’ campaign, supported by CPSA. The media authority plans to alter the telephone Numbering Plan so that calls from mobiles to freecall 1800 numbers are actually free of charge for the caller and calls to local rate 13/1300 numbers only cost the amount a consumer would pay if they were making that call from a landline. Currently mobile phone users pay up to $1.78 per minute for these calls, according to ACCAN, while businesses and organisations at the other end also pay for receiving the calls.

“This is a very significant step forward towards fair calls for mobile users,” said ACCAN Director of Policy Elissa Freeman. “Calls to 13 and 1800 numbers are often essential, for example contacting your energy provider, the tax office, Centrelink, roadside assistance and crisis lines, to name just a few of the 291,000 FreeCall or Local Rate numbers. “Fourteen per cent of people don’t have a land line and right now always have to pay high per-minute charges for a ‘free’ call. With people moving away from fixed-line services to rely on mobiles, it makes perfect sense that this regulation keeps up with the way Australians are using their phones in 2011. The cost of line rental for landline phones is making it increasingly unaffordable and impractical for people to have both a home phone and mobile. Yet often times, people will need to call essential services

but are left to wait on hold for indefinite periods of time. Many VOICE readers will have had experience of a 20 or 30 minute call to Centrelink, where most of the time was spent on hold. Now imagine paying upwards of a dollar a minute for such a call. That’s why CPSA joined ACCAN as an official supporter of their Fair Calls for All campaign. THE VOICE will report on the proposed timeframe for the changes when more news comes to hand. Retirement village residents in control from Sydney Morning Herald, October 26 2011, Money, p.9 RETIREMENT village residents have had their rights to control the sale of their units reaffirmed in the courts following a win by a group of retirement village occupants in late October. The case was brought by residents of the Castle Pines Retirement Village in Baulkham Hills in north-

My Health, My Future, My Choice: An Advance Care Directive for New South Wales Do you want to have a say in what happens to you if you need health care treatment and cannot speak for yourself? Every day, families, friends and medical professionals are faced with difficult decisions about the health care of seriously ill or injured people. These decisions are especially hard when the person is unable to communicate their health and personal care choices. My Health, My Future, My Choice is a book that explains what people can do to make sure their health and personal care choices will be known in the future. It is easy-to-read and is set out like a workbook with sections for the reader’s notes. The book contains a four-page advance care directive form. The form has been designed to make it as simple as possible for people to record their choices about their health and personal care. The book and the form have been written for use in New South Wales and are relevant to adults of all ages. My Health, My Future, My Choice costs $12 plus $2 postage and handling. To purchase the book, call 0423 157 003, download the order form from or email info@advancecaredirectives. The book is authored by Sara Graham, Anne Hampshire, Elizabeth Hindmarsh, Barbara Squires and Sharon Wall of the Advance Care Directive Association Inc. The authors have experience in and expert knowledge of aged care, health, general practice, nursing, education and community welfare. Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

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CPSA Campaigns western Sydney who had entered into individual deeds with the manager. Many of the deeds considered by the court contained provisions requiring the resident to give the manager sole agency to sell their property for 90 days and joint agency thereafter. While other deeds did not require this, the manager still had power to set the price (though at “not less than fair value”). The court found that the deeds made between the Castle Pines residents and the operator were unenforceable because they conflicted with sections 168 and 169 of the NSW Retirement Villages Act. Section 168 says residents can set the sale price and appoint a selling agent whilst Section 169 says the operator cannot interfere in a sale, unless they are the selling agent. Legislation covering retirement villages in NSW and Victoria bars village managers from insisting on naming the selling agent and setting the price. Such practices were criticised for creating a conflict of interest because the operator-appointed sales agent may work hard to sell units if the operator would earn a large slice of the sale while leaving other units to sit there on the market. Tenancy matters By Older Persons’ Tenants Service (OPTS) 1800 131 310 OPTS provides advice and advocacy to NSW public and private tenants aged 55 years and older, and all NSW protected tenants regardless of age. OPTS is a service of CPSA. THE FOLLOWING are updates on recent changes 14

launched the Reforming Marginal Renting campaign aimed at improving the status of some of NSW’s most 1. Proposed repeal of vulnerable tenants. the Landlord and Tenant The group includes CPSA, (Amendment) Act 1948 the Tenants’ Union of and Landlord and Tenant NSW, Tenants Advice and Act 1899. Advocacy Services including One of the current NSW OPTS, Wesley Mission, Government’s election Uniting Care NSW.ACT and promises was to achieve a many others. 20% reduction in existing Marginal renters are legislation. people who rent their Those Acts currently on housing but are not covered the chopping block include by any tenancy laws. Those the Landlord and Tenant who can fall under this Act 1899 (‘1899 Act’) and category include residents the Landlord and Tenant of boarding houses, lodgers (Amendment) Act 1948 in private homes, people in (‘1948 Act’), with major crisis accommodation, subprovisions to be transferred tenants in share housing to Residential Tenancies Act where no written tenancy 2010. agreement exists, and people The 1899 Act is still with disability who live in applicable today because it licensed residential centres. covers tenants not covered The 2006 Census shows by existing tenancy law, more than 1.5 million people including tenants on 99 year are marginal renters, but leases, life tenancies and subthis estimate is likely to be tenants in share housing. conservative. The 1948 Act is certainly Because they are not relevant today because it covered by any legislation, covers protected tenants they face eviction and rent who are typically aged and increases with little or no vulnerable. OPTS prepared a detailed submission to the NSW Government outlining concerns with the repeal of these Acts. Given that these are not the only pieces of legislation passed before the 2010 Act which touch on residential tenancies, OPTS recommended that other legislation less crucial to ongoing tenancies could be targeted. To view the submission visit www.cpsa. and then go to the Articles page. and possible changes to tenancy laws affecting older tenants.

notice, they have no legal means to get repairs done and no means of resolving disputes with their landlord. These are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community. Campaigns advocating for the rights of marginal renters over the past 40 years have found governments hesitant to increase the burden on landlords and boarding house owners because they fear that boarding houses would close, creating a large number of homeless people. Since the start of the Reforming Marginal Renting campaign, the NSW Coalition Government has established an interdepartmental committee on boarding house reform. However, prior to the NSW state election Independent MP Clover Moore stated she would introduce a Private Members Bill requiring occupancy agreements, bringing NSW into line with the ACT. We are currently awaiting the outcome of both proposals.

2. Boarding house residents may get protection

In March 2011, a group of social welfare organisations

Dec 2011 - Jan 2012


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 NSW Ombudsman’s Office Complaints about NSW Government agencies 1800 451 524

Commonwealth CareLink Info about aged and community care 1800 052 222 Office of Hearing Services Subsidised hearing aids 1800 500 726 Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 Single-gender Ward Hotline For patients who wish to be placed in a singlegender ward after 24hrs hospitalisation 1800 700 830 VisionCare NSW Subsidised spectacles (02) 9344 4122 1800 806 851

NSW Trustee and Guardian 1300 360 466 Dec 2011 - Jan 2012

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

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

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 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

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The Law Society Solicitor and legal firm referrals (02) 9926 0300 1800 422 713 Community Justice Centres Dispute resolution services for minor matters 9228 7455 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


Giggle Page The World’s Steepest Street

Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand is the World’s steepest street, according to the Guinness World Records. At its steepest point, the gradient is 1 in 2.86, or 35%. There’s an annual fun run called the Baldwin Street Gutbuster. Chocolate and confectionary company Cadbury also run a Jaffa Race, with 30,000 Jaffas rolled down the street.

Crossword Solutions Crossword on page 4

A taxi passenger tapped the driver on the shoulder to ask him a question. The driver screamed, lost control of the car, nearly hit a bus, went up on the footpath, and stopped centimetres from a shop window. For a second everything went quiet in the cab. Then the driver said: “Look mate, don’t ever do that again. You scared the living daylights out of me! Sorry, it’s not really your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver – I’ve been driving a hearse for the last 25 years.” 16

Dec 2011 - Jan 2012


THE VOICE - Dec 11 Jan 12  
THE VOICE - Dec 11 Jan 12  

THE VOICE of Pensioners and Superannuants of NSW