OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW Print Post Approved PP235387100064
Celebrating 80 years of service
Public housing rent freeze ends
Against the background of run-away increases in electricity, gas and water charges, the NSW Government has ended the exemption of the 2009 oneoff $30 pension increase from the public housing rent calculation. From April 2012, single full rate pensioner tenants will be paying $23.80 more out of their fortnightly pension payment than they do now, while that pension payment will be $35.30 higher. This means that two-thirds of the September 2011 and March 2012 pension indexation increases will be swallowed up by rent increases. The 2009 pension increase was supposed to help improve the standard of living of single full rate pensioners, subsisting (at the time) on incomes that put them below the poverty line. The Federal Government granted this increase on the 1
understanding that State and Territory Governments would permanently exempt it from social housing rent calculations. The circumstances of those living on just the pension, particularly single pensioners, have again deteriorated to the point where they cannot afford the basics, and utility, electricity and other energy charges are to blame. While CPI indicates the overall cost of living has risen by 7 per cent since the September 2009 pension increase, the electricity component of the CPI went up 17 per cent, rates went up 15 per cent and gas 12 per cent. The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal calculated that, by June 2013, the price of electricity bill increases for low users will have risen by 36 per cent for Energy Australia customers.
Within that context, for a Government to back out of a social housing rental exemption shows a concerning lack of understanding of how single full rate pensioners are forced to live. The NSW Government stands to gain less than $30 million through a measure that imposes increased hardship on pensioners living on less than $20,000 a year. CPSA is concerned that a decision so lightly taken might be repeated in other cost-of-living cases. CPSA calls on the NSW Government to subject costof-living concessions and eligibility criteria to scrutiny by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory
Tribunal. In making recommendations on prices, the Tribunal is already required to take into account social impacts, but it does not have the authority to enquire into cost-of-living concessions or make recommendations. As a consequence, the Tribunal makes pricing determinations under the assumption that consumers, without exception, have the ability to pay the prices set by the Tribunal. By giving the Tribunal the authority to recommend eligibility criteria and levels of costof-living concessions, those concessions would be likely to end up better targeted.
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Letters CPSA Executive (as at 2.11.2010)
Grace Selway OAM President Bob Jay Secretary Betty Chamberlain Treasurer Bill Holland Senior Vice President Assistant Treasurer Sue Latimer Vice President Margaret Craven-Scott Assistant Secretary Edna Kay Publications Editor Barbara Wright Assistant Publications Editor Shirley Bains Marie Mihell George Ray Colin Vernon
OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
Editor: Edna Kay Assistant Editor: Barbara Wright Phone: 1800 451 488 Fax: (02) 9281 9716 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Production: Antoine Mangion, Joel Tozer & Paul Versteege Printer: MPD, Unit E1, 46-62 Maddox Street, Alexandria NSW 2015
Letters are personal views only and do not necessarily reflect CPSA policy. Ed.
Council rates irritate I AM rather concerned that in the last seventeen years, us old age pensioners have not had any increase in our council rates rebate. During this period of time our rates have tripled and so has the cost of living, but we have remained the same with our little bit off the rates. We old age pensioners are the ones that fought for our country to make it what it is, but nobody seems to worry about us anymore. With the electricity prices, rates, water and the general cost of living we have to starve just to pay the bills. I can’t remember when we last were able to have a bite to eat while we were food shopping, or going to medical appointments and so on. This year we won’t be able to insure our home or contents, we just can’t make the little bit of money go that
I can’t remember when we last had a holiday or a movie. Something needs to be done for us oldies, because we need help. W G Campbell Werris Creek, NSW My wife and I are both on a full pension; I have an allocated pension from which I draw approximately $600.00 per month. We keep & follow a budget which I have made up in an Excel spreadsheet. All bills are entered when received and date due entered. All amounts are automatically calculated to a weekly amount. We have done this for many years and it has worked well. I carried out a check of all cost over four years, from July 2007 till June 2011, the results for the main utilities and council are as follows:.
Council rates up 12.87% Water rates up 41.67% Gas up 51.72% Electricity up 72.17% PENSION up 21.17% I ask you, how are we to survive these increases when there are little or no increases to rebates, any cash payments received have been well & truly absorbed. I am sure many pensioners like ourselves are worried sick as to where this will end. R K McNeil Narellan Vale, NSW Aged care cash cow PRIME MINISTER Gillard would attract support if she cancelled the legislation that would require older Australians to have to sell the family home to buy their way into those privately owned aged care homes. These homes have a bad reputation for poor care. Providing care for people in their own homes,
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THE VOICE CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010
I’d like to renew my Membership or join CPSA as a Member and enclose my individual Membership fee of $12 (Includes a free annual subscription to THE VOICE, valued at $25.00). I agree to be bound by the CPSA Constitution and uphold the Objectives and Policies of CPSA. I support the CPSA Objectives. I have not previously been expelled from CPSA or, if I have been expelled, I have attached a copy of my CPSA Executive exemption. Please send me information about my nearest Branch.
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Letters enabling them to leave the family home to their children, as it has always been, would be the humane element of our Australian way of life. This legislation is handing money over to millionaire operators. Eric Di Losa Port Macquarie, NSW Gas bills start to bite I READ with interest the increases to gas by 40% for low-end users that AGL has instituted. Gas is an area that does not accrue a Pensioner Rebate and I believe that AGL sees this as a business opportunity to force lowincome pensioners to The Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul for a Hardship Voucher to help pay for their gas account. If only one could be a fly on the wall at a Board Meeting. I believe that AGL is looking for more Government funding to improve their bottom line – profits and that means greater dividends for the richer end of society at the expense of the poor. I feel it is time for the Government to legislate for a Pensioner or Low Income rate for telcos and energy suppliers, in fact for any vital organisation that either accepts funding for pensioner rebates or accepts hardship vouchers. This is not anticompetitive because there are plenty of high-end users and profitable companies to spread the costs around. All charities that accept Government funding have bells and whistles attached to that funding for accountability, and that includes child care centres and private schools. So why not energy October 2011
and telecommunication companies for low-income pensioners? Any organisation that accepts Government funding of any sort has a social responsibility. Name and address supplied
Men’s sheds turn men’s health around
WOMEN have always shown a greater interest in health issues than men. About five to six years ago, the Men’s Shed movement started up as a registered Health Promotion An energy rebate is not Charity. provided to gas bills Problems with men’s because, while everyone has health such as isolation, an electricity account not loneliness, depression and everyone has a gas account. other health issues are helped Hence, the full rebate is greatly with men’s sheds. provided solely on electricity It is uniquely bills. Energy companies in Australian where men are NSW are required by law to sharing and preserving the operate customer assistance skills they have that are programs for those facing relevant to the community. hardship. I for one worked Not all programs are alone for years in my garage adequate and CPSA continues restoring furniture until four to work for improvements in years ago when I joined a new this area as well as greater Men’s Shed at Kincumber, affordability so that people and now I work with wood do not get to such a situation turners, carpenters and in the first place. Ed. professional retired furniture restorers. Now we are nearing Send a letter to Christmas, we are very THE VOICE busy making toys for local charities. There are now 560 men’s sheds in Australia, growing at a rate of four a week, with membership of over 50,000 men. We are now exporting the concept to Canada, UK and Ireland. What’s the best thing about Men’s Sheds? “IT IS BEYOND WHAT YOU CAN BUY.” Charles Lindstrom, Kincumber Men’s Shed THE VOICE, CPSA Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills NSW 2010 email@example.com 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.
Helping pensioners balance their budgets BALANCING the household budget can be tricky when you’re on a fixed income, and we know that pensioners face particular pressures in making ends meet. We also value the contribution pensioners have made – and continue to make in retirement – in our communities. That’s why, in September 2009, the Australian Government introduced pension reforms to catch pensioners up. We wanted to make sure that the Age Pension keeps pace with the cost of living into the future. Since we introduced the reforms in September 2009, we have delivered increases to the maximum pension of about $148 per fortnight for singles and $146 per fortnight for couples combined. From 20 September, single people receiving the maximum rate of Age Pension and veterans’ income support recipients will receive an extra $19.50 a fortnight. Pensioner couples combined on the maximum rate will receive an extra $29.60 a fortnight. Jenny Macklin MP Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Canberra, ACT
CPSA - who we are 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 low-income retirees. The aim of CPSA is to improve the standard of living and well-being of its Members and constituents.
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Please add postage to all items. Volunteer insurance 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 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.
1. Inadvertent 8. Extremism 9. Works dough 10. Surpassed 11. Garden hut 12. ... it, obvious to me (2,1,3) 14. Reprimand 17. Add up to (6,2) 20. Statelier 23. ...-a-brac, knick knacks 24. Tormented 25. Capital of Rwanda 26. Rugby players are often seen ... (2,1,5) 27. Impossible
1. Marks over some German vowels 2. The hay was stacked ... (2,5) 3. Valency of 3 (Chem.) 4. Collector of coins & medals 5. Aggravated 6. Danish composer, also a poll 7. Paying guests 13. Artificial language 15. France’s highest mountain (4,5) 16. Queasy 18. Cocktail 19. Unfasten 21. Young wild animal (4,3) 22. Put to death 24. Currency unit of Oman
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Condition of CPSA Membership According to the NSW Associations Incorporation Act 2009 (Schedule 1, clause 11(1)(a) and Appendix 1 based on Clause 3(1)), it is a condition of your ongoing CPSA membership that you agree to comply with CPSA’s Constitution including Aims & Objectives. If you have any questions or would like a copy of the Constitution, please call Head Office on 1800 451 488.
Crossword by Hilda Thorburn
Yagoona CPSA is sad to report the 17 August passing of Member William Robertson. His funeral was on 22 August. He will be sadly missed.
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
CPSA Campaigns Barry and Mike’s first Budget THE NSW Budget handed down on 6 September included some big health and public transport measures that will benefit pensioners along with the rest of the community, but also some penny-pinching nasties that will hurt pensioners specifically or significantly. The next Budget is only nine months away, in June 2012, when the O’Farrell Government’s honeymoon will be well and truly over. CPSA is already working on its submission to that Budget.
rail services • Free shuttle buses for the Sydney, Parramatta, Penrith and Wollongong CBDs. 3. Social housing rent freeze for pensioners ends
The Budget also promises: • 261 new buses • $100 million to expand light rail services • Continued work on the South-West rail link • Start of work on the North-West rail link • Study into North Coast
When the single full rate pension went up by $30 a week in September 2009, the Federal Government asked State and Territory Governments to permanently exempt this increase from social housing rent calculations. In NSW, tenants pay 25 per cent of assessable income in rent. Most State and Territory Governments put in place a temporary exemption and a few have since moved to make this permanent. The base rate of pension has gone up in September by $9.05 per week. That increase will go into the rent calculation from October 2011 and cause a rent increase of $2.25 per week. At the same time, half the 2009 pension increase of $30 per week will go into the rent calculation, which will cause a rent increase of 25 per cent of $15, being $3.75. The overall October rent increase will be $6 per week. The projected (not definite) pension increase in March 2012 is $8.60 per week, which will lead to a rent increase of $2.15 per week in April 2012. The second half of the 2009 pension increase will now also go into the rent calculation, so that the overall weekly rent increase in April 2012 will be $5.90. In total, single full rate pensioner tenants will be paying $11.90 more per week in rent by April 2012, or $23.80 more out of their fortnightly pension payment, while that pension payment will be $35.30 higher.
1. Health and care
In the current term of Government there will be: • 2,400 additional nurses (940 before July 2012) • 1,400 new hospital beds (660 before July 2012) • 13,000 extra surgical procedures (1,600 before July 2012) In addition, mental health funding will grow by almost 9 per cent. Oral health is again the loser, with no additional funding. The Home and Community Care Program will receive an additional 6.5 per cent (or $42 million) in funding, with the Home Care Service of NSW treading water. Disability equipment programs received an additional $5 million. 2. Public transport
This means that two-thirds of pension increases will be swallowed up by rent increases and will not be available to help pay for price rises for water and electricity.
cancelled earlier this year after its expected budget had blown out considerably, thanks to the initial generous tariff of 60c and a very high take-up rate. There has been a 4. Solar hit strong misconception that The NSW solar panel scheme the beneficiaries of the NSW essentially forced electricity solar feed-in tariff so far have retail companies to buy their been affluent households in electricity not at wholesale Sydney. but at retail prices. However, the Clean It’s a bit like Coles and Energy Council’s breakWoolies buying their stuff at down of small-scale photothe same prices they charge voltaic (PV) installations by their customers. It’s a loss- postcode shows that regional making activity and, in the and coastal areas, many of case of electricity retailers, which have lower income they will recoup those losses levels, have higher rates of by charging more to those PV installations. customers who do not have The benefits of the solar panels. system have not solely gone The cost of the NSW to high-income earners; they solar panel scheme, initially have generally been spread. thought to be $355 million, However, CPSA did has since blown out to not support the arrangements $1.75 billion and the annual that were in place for the electricity bill of those who Solar Bonus Scheme tariff don’t have solar panels is to be paid, wholly or in part, expected to increase by through household energy around ten to twelve dollars bills. per household on average. Cross-subsidisation While this is a small within a charging regime is sum, it’s galling that all regressive and disadvantages those panel-less households, those who cannot afford including pensioner to install PV systems and households on extremely low who often already struggle incomes, now have to pay with high energy bills. It for a scheme in which not also disadvantages noneverybody has the capacity homeowners. to participate, especially In dealing with the full rate pensioners in social legacy of generous feed-in housing. tariff schemes in which crosssubsidisation is inherent, IPART considers new solar CPSA believes it would be feed-in tariff more equitable to pay costs from consolidated revenue. RECENTLY, the Independent In general, CPSA Pricing and Regulatory believes that the decision of a Tribunal (IPART) received household to install a solar PV submissions to evaluate the system should be made on the possibility of a new feed- basis of non-subsidised feedin tariff for households that in tariffs. This means that install solar photovoltaic households should receive (PV) systems in NSW. the going, wholesale rate for Many may remember their excess electricity at the that the initial Solar Bonus time it is fed back into the Scheme feed-in tariff was Continued page 8
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CPSA Annual Conference
CPSA Conference and Annual General Meeting CPSA Conference (including the Annual General Meeting) is coming up again! It will be held at the Salvation Army, 140 Elizabeth St, Sydney on 25 & 26 October 2011. The deadline for agenda items was Friday 26 August 2011. Every Member is invited (and encouraged) to attend Conference as an Observer. (A Delegate is able to speak and vote on motions. An Observer is not able to speak or vote on motions.) You will be able to hear our guest speakers, listen to policy discussion and be present for our AGM. You will be able to meet with other Members from all over NSW. Meals and refreshments are included and transport by CountryLink rail and bus services is free for all non-Sydney Conference attendees. (In addition, Delegates’ accommodation can be reimbursed up to $110 per person per night.) Registration forms have been circulated to all Branches, Area Councils and Affiliates. If you would like to register as an Observer, please contact CPSA Head Office on 1800 451 488. Conference Delegates must be chosen by the Branch, Area Council or Affiliate to represent that group. Most Branches do this by a simple ballot at a Branch meeting. Everyone who is interested in going to Conference should nominate. Don’t let your Branch Executive or Committee decide this for you! The number of Delegates a Branch can send depends on the number of Branch Members: 1 - 75 Members = 2 Delegates 76 -125 Members = 3 Delegates 126 -175 Members = 4 Delegates 176 -225 Members = 5 Delegates etc. Are you interested in coming to Conference as a Delegate but don’t belong to a Branch, or haven’t been elected as a Delegate for your Branch? Why not consider representing another Branch instead? Lots of our Branches find the distance too great or Members’ health not up to the travel. Many of them would be delighted to have someone represent them. If you’re interested in representing another Branch, call Head Office for more information. There is no cost to your home Branch and costs to your other Branch are kept to a minimum. Accessing CityRail Guide Accessing CityRail is a 76-page guide to CityRail stations for the elderly, customers with disabilities and people travelling with young children and luggage. The latest edition is now available and includes updated information about the accessible facilities of our stations and trains, interchanging with other modes of transport, using wheelchairs and scooters and accessible station entrances. It also contains useful information about using the boarding assistance zone and travelling with assistance animals. The information in Accessing CityRail is also available in PDF, large print, Braille and audio formats. To receive a copy of Accessing CityRail, please contact Eliz Esteban on phone: 8922 4439 or email: eliz.esteban@ railcorp.nsw.gov.au. Eliz will also be able to provide Accessing CityRail information in the other formats if you need them. October 2011
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CPSA Campaigns referred to another agency, grid, plus an environmental provided with information benefit premium to reflect the or simply told that no one value of generating electricity can help them. During 2009in an environmentally 2010 this happened 5,111 sustainable way. Any such times. premium should be funded Although the Report transparently through a social on the Operation of the Aged program as part of the NSW Care Act 1997 does not say budget process. how many of these 5,111 “contacts” were told no Scoped in or out: aged care one could help them, it not complainants remain likely unreasonable to assume it losers was the vast majority. If it wasn’t the EVEN though a new aged majority, the Report would care complaints scheme have said so. started on 1 September 2011, Plus, you only have to CPSA did not break out the look at what happened with champagne. the “contacts” that were “in The new scheme will scope.” prove to be as hopeless as Of the 8,055 “in scope” the one it replaces and here is complaints, only 931 turned why. out to relate to breaches. Complaints against That is roughly one in aged care providers number ten. All the other complaints, in the thousands. During all 7,119 of them, were made, 2009-2010, there were apparently, by idiots. 8,055 complaints that were So the Aged Care determined to be “in scope”. Complaints Investigation For a complaint to Scheme has had, to put be “in scope” it must relate it mildly, a bias towards “to an approved provider’s dismissing complaints, responsibilities”. whether they are “out of A complaint can scope” or “in scope.” also be “out of scope”, in However, there was which case complainants are one complainant who was From page 5
extraordinarily successful and very much on the ball and on the money. It was the Aged Care Commissioner, who reviewed 114 decisions on “in scope” complaints. The Commissioner’s recommendations in virtually all 114 cases were adopted by the same people who tell one in ten “in scope” complainants to go away. So the Aged Care Investigations Scheme also has a bias towards taking the Commissioner far more seriously than complainants. But the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme (which started in 2007) is no more. It had the same fate as the Aged Care Complaints Resolution Scheme (which started in 1997). It has been replaced by the Aged Care Complaints Scheme, which, according to a chirpy article supplied to THE VOICE by the Department, “means greater information and support for people to resolve their concern directly with the provider, where appropriate. The new Scheme’s
focus on resolution, along with expanded resolution approaches means the Scheme is more likely to resolve a person’s concern and achieve the best result for the care recipient.” If this sounds to you like the old Aged Care Complaints Resolution Scheme that was canned in 2007, you can be forgiven. But here’s why the new scheme is as doomed as its predecessors. While it will now be possible for anyone to make a complaint, including nursing home staff, and while it will be possible to make anonymous complaints, the terms under which the complaints are made don’t change. The old scheme limits complaints to “a matter involving an approved provider’s responsibilities under the Act or Principles”. So does the new scheme, which limits complaints to “an issue or issues about an approved provider’s responsibilities under the Act or the Principles”. The criteria used to decide whether a complaint is “in scope” have not altered.
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
CPSA Campaigns So, for example, if you make a complaint because your mother who is in a nursing home has infected gums, that complaint would probably be considered “in scope”, but it would not be considered a breach as long as the aged care provider could prove that she was not prevented from going to the dentist. No matter what complaints system the Department runs, it will fail as long as “approved provider’s responsibilities” are as narrowly defined in the legislation as they are today. Until the aged care system is run for care recipients instead of providers, any complaints system will be largely meaningless. CPSA still encourages everyone to air their complaints. The sheer number of complaints demonstrates how inadequate aged care, particularly the nursing home side, is and this helps in our advocacy. The Scheme can be contacted on 1800 550 552. If you have a hearing, sight or speech impairment, the Scheme can help through
the National Relay Service. Call 1800 555 677 and ask for 1800 550 552. If you need an interpreter, the Scheme can assist through the Translating and Interpreting Service. Call 131 450 and ask for 1800 550 552. You can also write to the Scheme at: Aged Care Complaints Scheme, Department of Health and Ageing, GPO Box 9848, in your capital city. You can also contact the Scheme through their website at www.agedcarecomplaints. govspace.gov.au
(IPTAAS), CPSA welcomes that in acknowledgement of the Government’s good intentions. But at the same time, an accommodation allowance going up $10 to $43 for singles and $14 to $60 for couples (when overnight accommodation is priced at $100 and up) does not remove the significant barrier for many country people to receive medical treatment in towns and cities. Financially, country people needing specialist medical treatment are already having to cope with upfront medical fees and gaps not covered by their health IPTAAS allowances up, insurance, if they can afford but problems remain insurance in the first place. Adding to those WHEN the NSW financial burdens a couple of Government increases a hundred dollars minimum for benefit, it would be very every day in town to cover churlish of CPSA to say that the cost of a hotel or motel, it is not enough and that it meals and transport can make doesn’t resolve the problem. it impossible for people to So when the Health seek the medical treatment Minister announced an they need or impossible to increase of 30 per cent get enough of it. in the accommodation Already cancer allowance under the survival rates in the country Isolated Patients Travel and are significantly lower than Accommodation Scheme they are in the city.
The NSW Government is busily honouring its election commitments and increasing IPTAAS benefits was one of those commitments. The danger now is that the Government will forget about IPTAAS. That is why it is a shame that the changes to IPTAAS do not include the introduction of an indexation mechanism to ensure travel and accommodation allowances keep pace with the actual cost of accommodation and petrol. CPSA would like to see percentage-based assistance of 75 per cent provided under IPTAAS, so that as prices go up and down so do the allowances. CPSA would also like to see addressed the problem of country people needing to advance the full accommodation and petrol charges and receiving their IPTAAS allowances much later. A system whereby people eligible for IPTAAS allowances are able to pay part of their accommodation and petrol charges with vouchers would make
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 www.advancecaredirectives.org.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org 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. October 2011
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CPSA Campaigns the health system more accessible for low-income country pensioners. The changes to IPTAAS take effect on 1 January 2012. There is no change to the eligibility criteria, which means that travel and accommodation assistance under IPTAAS continues to be available to people needing to travel at least 100 kilometres one way for specialist medical treatment. As mentioned, the daily accommodation allowance increases to $43 per single person and to $60 per double, up from $33 per single and $46 per double. The car travel allowance increases to 19 cents per kilometre, up from 15 cents. Those country pensioners lucky enough to have family or friends in town will be eligible for a weekly accommodation allowance of $140, up from $30 per week. Any patient travelling at least 200 kilometres in one week will also be able to claim IPTAAS subsidies. Once a patient’s IPTAAS subsidies reach $1,000 within a year, the $40 administration fee will be waived.
was available. Australia ranked fourth among the 14 OECD nations with universal pharmaceutical subsidy schemes, with patients paying an average $US84 a year for their prescriptions. People in Finland faced the highest costs at $US120, followed by the French ($US103) and those in the Slovak Republic ($US95). But for those in the United States and Canada - neither of which have universal subsidy schemes the out-of-pocket expenses were a staggering $US487 and $US262, respectively. Lead researcher Dr Anna Kemp, of the university’s Centre for Health Services Research, said if prescription charges in Australia increased much more, they would become unaffordable for many, putting their health at risk. “We understand this
is a massive area of health expenditure and everyone is trying to work out what the community can afford and what patients can afford, but we are worried that the balance has tipped now to the point that its hurting patients,” she told AAP. “What we would like to see is the government not introduce more large increases in costs for patients. “We understand that things need to move with inflation but any large increases in (the PBS) copayment or safety net are likely to result in harm for patients and make them likely to cut down on their use and we already know that has been happening for some people.” Medication costs leapt 24 per cent in 2005 when the Federal Government increased the amount patients paid for their prescriptions at the pharmacy under the PBS co-payment scheme.
Since 2005, the copayment general patients have to make towards their PBS-subsidised prescriptions has risen by $5.60 to $34.20 and by $1 to $5.60 for concession card holders. The Government has also raised the spending thresholds people have to meet before they qualify for extra discounts. Previous studies have found a drop in the use of prescription drugs following price hikes. Dr Kemp said Australians could be paying even more for their prescription drugs because of a rise in the number of medications — including antibiotics, antidepressants and oral contraceptives — which no longer qualify for PBS subsidies. When taking those medications into account, Australians were paying at least $134 a year for their prescriptions, she said.
Aussie prescriptions among world’s most expensive AUSTRALIA is one of the world’s most expensive countries when it comes to prescription medicines, a study shows. The findings were included in a study by researchers at The University of Western Australia who looked at the annual outof-pocket expenses for prescription drugs across 14 OECD countries in 2005, when the most complete data 10
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW
CPSA Information Directory INCOME SECURITY Centrelink Age Pension 13 23 00 DSP/Carer benefits 13 27 17 Family Assistance 13 61 50 Welfare Rights Centre Info on Government pensions and other benefits (02) 9211 5300 1800 226 028 National Information Centre on Retirement Investments Anything for the small investor and people wondering about super or how to invest 1800 020 110 Financial Ombudsman Services Complaints about banking, insurance, super, financial planning 1300 780 808 Industry Fund Financial Planning 1300 138 848 Australian Taxation Office Super/Lost super 13 10 20 Personal tax 13 28 61 British Pensions in Australia Assistance in claiming the British Pension (02) 9521 7964 1300 308 353 No Interest Loans Scheme 1800 509 994
Australian Human Rights Commission Complaints about discrimination and harassment 1300 369 711 Commonwealth Ombudsman Complaints about Federal Government departments and agencies 1300 362 072 NSW Ombudsman’s Office Complaints about NSW Government agencies 1800 451 524 NSW Trustee and Guardian 1300 360 466
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
Guardianship Tribunal Financial management orders for people with decisionmaking disabilities 1800 463 928
Commonwealth CareLink Info about aged and community care 1800 052 222 Office of Hearing Services Subsidised hearing aids 1800 500 726 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
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
1800 451 488
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 Lessons in logic A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station…. What more can I say? The more you learn, the more you know, The more you know, the more you forget The more you forget, the less you know So… Why learn? “Your future depends on your dreams.” So, go to sleep. Since light travels faster than sound, People appear bright until you hear them speak.
Turn left when walking
If your father is a poor man, It is your fate but, If your father-in-law is a poor man, It’s your stupidity.
Come back tomorrow
Practice makes perfect… But nobody’s perfect… So why practice?
Things to ponder I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes. If quitters never win, and winners never quit, then who is the fool who said, “Quit while you’re ahead”? Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach that person to use the internet and they won’t bother you for weeks. Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?
Crossword Solutions Crossword on page 4
Limerick Me and my newest mate, Ringo Went to the church to play bingo The priest said: “Oh dear He’s not allowed here” I replied: “Why? What’s wrong with a dingo?”
Got a joke? Well we’re on the look-out, so send it in. We may not be able to post everything we receive but we certainly appreciate all conributions. Send it in to THE VOICE CPSA, Level 9, 28 Foveaux St Surry Hills, NSW, 2010 or email@example.com 12
THE VOICE OF PENSIONERS AND SUPERANNUANTS OF NSW