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BUDGET: COTA praises super changes, wants more for social issues

The Commonwealth Government has missed an opportunity to apply certainty to aged care, housing and mature-age employment. That’s the response from Ian Yates, chief executive of seniors’ advocacy body COTA Australia.

He said that while mooted changes to superannuation were welcome, he was disappointed that steps to ameliorate waiting times, for example, were absent.

“Unfortunately, aged care is still a rationed system which means people who have been assessed and approved as eligible for care don’t get it because of the rationing,” Yates said. “This means thousands of older people still languish on long aged care waiting lists or may have to move to inappropriate care or care far from loved ones.

“The $136 million contained in the budget to improve My Aged Care website and Contact Centre is very welcome but needs to be accompanied by other major measures to address the core failures in our aged care system.

“This includes giving older Australians control over their own residential aged care in the same way they will have control over their home care packages next February. This is a huge missed opportunity.”

Yates further complained that the Budget did not contain an increase to the Newstart allowance, greater protections against discrimination for older workers, measures to create affordable housing options for socially disadvantaged seniors, and funding to address mental health issues affecting those over 80 years old.

There was praise, however, for a new initiatives to better target superannuation tax concessions, lift age restrictions on contributions, provide opportunities for women and people on low incomes to better save for retirement, and make the system more flexible and responsive to retirement needs.

“COTA is pleased to see the government move in a direction that ensures superannuation is used for the purpose it was originally intended; as a way for people to save for their retirement rather than a wealth accumulation scheme for Australia’s highest earners,” continued Yates. “The changes, many of which COTA has called for over the last few years, will make superannuation much more sustainable and fit for purpose for the long term.”

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