12 – Pensioners

12 Pensioners

As the Independent Member for Robertson I would seek to persuade the Council to adopt my purposes: to fully comprehend, address, and advocate for, Central Coast pensioner needs. As a Member of the Federal Parliament I will have a direct responsibility for carrying the aspirations of Central Coast pensioners into the debate concerning legislation and funding of pensioner needs. My responsibility and Council’s responsibility is despite the many categories of ‘pensioner’, and the provision of pensions lying outside the jurisdiction of Council. Pensioners are an important part of the Central Coast community and, as such, comprise an important part of the Central Coast social landscape. My responsibility for pensioners includes: 1. Understanding the size and essential elements of each category of pensioner 2. Understanding trends in pensioner population size, location, and their essential requirements and additional aspirations 3. In consultation with Central Coast pensioner communities and organisations, to assess the adequacy of provision to each category of pensioner 4. Make representations to the appropriate government for necessary funding for each category of pensioner. 5. Encouragement and support for pensioner-support organisations within the Central Coast 6. Providing, as much as possible, for the needs of pensioners in areas such as: (i) advocacy; (ii) residential zone requirements; (iii) oversight and inspection of residential contracts and experience (iv) aged-friendly environments. I UNDERTAKE TO DESIGNATE ONE OF MY ELECTORATE OFFICERS A ‘PENSIONER ADVOCATE’ WHO WILL ASSIST ME IN RESPECT OF ALL CONSULTATIONS WITH PENSIONERS AND THEIR ORGANISATIONS, POLICY WORK, REPRESENTATIONS, AND PERSISTENT CAMPAIGNING – EVEN NATIONALLY UNTIL WE GET BIG MOVEMENTS UPWARDS FOR PENSIONS.

Elements/Actions:

12.1 Local Community Enagement

12.1.1 Council will provide support to pensioner volunteers, service clubs, community organisations, senior citizens centres, neighbourhood houses, churches and commercial enterprises. 12.1.2 Council will investigate the advisability of developing a greater network of affordable accommodation options for pensioners. 12.1.3 Council will encourage the expansion of community gardens on public lands with special emphasis on pensioner participation. 12.1.4 Council will develop programs in collaboration with community organisations such as neighbourhood centres, surf and sporting clubs to facilitate skills and knowledge transfer from community elders. 12.1.5 Council will encourage participation in cultural activities targeted to older people such as Seniors Week and History events. 12.1.6 Council will investigate the feasibility of expanding community transport options (eg ride sharing). 12.1.7 Council will investigate the feasibility of co-locating child-care and aged-care facilities. AS THE INDEPENDENT MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON I WILL SEEK REGULAR NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE CC COUNCIL WITH A VIEW TO ADVANCING EACH OF THE ABOVE ACTIONS. 12.2 Central Coast Council 12.2.1 Council will seek to establish a Centre of Excellence for Retirement and Aged Care, possibly in partnership with a new CC TAFE / University. 12.2.2 Council will, as a preliminary to further actions, research the size and essential elements of each category of pensioner, will research any trends in pensioner population size, location, and their essential requirements and additional aspirations, and will, in consultation with Central Coast pensioner communities and organisations, assess the adequacy of provision to each category of pensioner 12.2.3 Council will consult, in concert with the university sector, separately with pensioners and their representative organisations, in several different categories: 12.2.3.1. Aged 12.2.3.2. Carers 12.2.3.3. Unemployed 12.2.3.4. Disability 12.2.3.5. veterans … … with a view to identifying continuing barriers/facilitators to successful: (i) vocational training (ii) full-time employment (iii) safe and permanent housing (iv) adequate medical support (v) safe emergency haven from violence and intimidation. Council will produce a Report on Central Coast Centre of Excellence for Retirement and Aged Care with recommendations for appropriate action at different government levels: local; state; federal. 12.2.4 Council will retain rate and water rate concessions for aged pensioners who are home owners. 12.2.5 Council will regard public libraries as a vital resource for older people. Council will encourage libraries to play an active role in meeting pensioner needs for self development and self actualisation. 12.2.6 Council will ensure that community facilities such as Surf Clubs, Progress Associations premises, community halls built on Crown Land but under Council control, remain assets of those organisations and villages. 12.2.7 Council will, if possible in conjunction with state and federal authorities such as My Aged Care and Centrelink, undertake a survey of costs of living and needs experienced by aged pensioners living in Council’s area including those from rural locations. 12.2.8 Council will commission, in concert with University of Newcastle, a report on aged care housing needs (Aged Care Housing: Public and Private Provision) which will: 12.2.8.1.identify the full range of housing accessible by the aging, both public and private … along with deficiencies in provision. 12.2.8.2. the contractual basis for each of these types of housing with emphasis on the rights of the aging residents … along with deficiencies or dishonest or unjustly tricky loopholes in these contracts inconsistent with pensioners’ expectations. 12.2.8.3. recommend changes to NSW legislation, regulation, or inspection behaviours. 12.2.9 Council will appoint a Pensioners’ Advocate with two objectives: 12.2.9.1. To consult with local pensioners, ACOSS and Australian pensioner organisations using, Pensioner Forums over a weekend at least twice/year, open to all Central Coast pensioners …to help Council identify problem areas, problem events, problem rules and regulations, problem organisations … and to prioritise actions and campaigning. 12.2.9.2. To service a Pensioners’ Advisory Committee comprising a senior Council Officer, two Councillors and representatives of pensioners with the responsibility of prioritising matters to be brought before the Council for determination. AS THE INDEPENDENT MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON I WILL SEEK TO NEGOTIATE WITH CC COUNCIL TO ADVANCE THE ACTIONS IDENTIFIED ABOVE IN 12.2 12.3. NSW Government: 12.3.1. Council will make representations to the NSW Government, informed by the recommendations from Aged Care Housing: Public and Private Provision on the Central Coast. 12.3.2. Council to make representations to the NSW Government to provide free tuition at local TAFE or community colleges for internet/social media skills for pensioners. 12.3.3 Council will persistently explain to the NSW Government the community’s strong desire to: (i) retain public hospitals, schools, reserves and facilities accessible to pensioners. (ii) retain motor vehicle registration concessions (iii) maintain subsidies for gas and electricity consumption (iv) continue Public Transport Concessions such as Opal Gold Card for Rail, buses and ferries. (v) provide more social housing directed to meet pensioner needs on the Central Coast. A waiting time of 15 years is quite unacceptable. (vi) amend regulations affecting private retirement villages, nursing homes and hostels to ensure availability of Registered Nurses to support the health needs of aged residents. 12.3.4 Council will lobby NSW Government to provide more services to combat elder abuse and neglect. 12.3.5 Council will seek NSW Government support to ask the Law Reform Commission to be tasked to investigate simplification of Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship provisions to allow for more realistic treatment of dementia sufferers within the community. IN RESPECT OF 12.3, AS THE INDEPENDENT MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON I WILL UNDERTAKE TO REGULARLY NEGOTIATE WITH CC COUNCIL TO JOIN FORCES WITH THE COUNCIL IN CROSS-PARTY REPRESENTATIONS [INCLUDING CAMPAIGNING] TO THE NSW GOVERNMENT. 12.4. Federal Government: 12.4.1. ADF veterans: Council will make representations to, negotiate with, and campaign for a Dept of Veteran Affairs Office at Gosford and to be staffed, at least in good part, with ex-ADF field personnel. 12.4.2. On-line government services: such as Centrelink. Council to seek human assistance for pensioners who are now required to access online services and financial assistance. 12.4.3 As the Independent Member for Robertson I will [irrespective of Council] make persistent representations to, and campaign for the aged pension to be set at 10% above the poverty line with all other pensions adjusted accordingly, and for a longer term plan for the progressive increase of pensions to 30% above the poverty line by 2030. Council needs to support Pensioners in lobbying the Federal Government to retain the Aged Pension for persons with limited assets and superannuation support. It should continue to be indexed to average weekly earnings. 12.4.4 Council will support continuation of Rent Assistance for pensioners in the private rental market. This should be indexed to cover the lowest quartile of rental housing costs on a suburb by suburb basis. 12.4.5 Council will lobby the Federal Government to increase reimbursements to doctors for consultation fees to ensure the continuation of bulk billing under Medicare. 12.4.6 Council will support continuation of PBS and Pensioner health card concessions. 12.4.7 Council will support Federal aid to guarantee affordable access for pensioners to aged care facilities. IN RESPECT OF 12.4, AS THE INDEPENDENT MEMBER FOR ROBERTSON I WILL UNDERTAKE TO REGULARLY TAKE THE NEEDS OF CENTRAL COAST PENSIONERS TO THE PARLIAMENTARY CROSS-BENCH, TREASURY, AND GOVERNMENT WITH A VIEW TO ATTAINING THE NECESSARY LEGISLATION AND FUNDING.