Challenges facing the ageing raised at forum

Challenges facing the ageing raised at forum

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie was a guest speaker at the latest Top Hat Forum run by the Mount Barker Council and the Mount Barker Community Centre.

Attending the Top Hat Forum were John Selby, left, from the Mount Barker Croquet Club, Jan Luck from COTA, Rebekha Sharkie MP, and Mount Barker Community Centre Manager Sean Hames.

The forum meets at the council chambers whenever there is a fifth Wednesday in a month and is a networking opportunity for various community groups with older memberships in the region.

Rebekha spoke about the challenges and opportunities facing Australia’s ageing population and the electorate of Mayo.

Mayo is the oldest electorate in SA and the eighth oldest in the country with more than one in five residents (22.3%) over the age of 65 years.

“The number of Australians aged 85 years and over is projected to more than double from 455,400 in 2014 to 954,600 by 2034,” Rebekha told the forum.

“The number of people living to the age of 100 and beyond is expected to increase dramatically over this period, from about 4,600 in 2014 to 15,700 in 2034, and in another 50 years on, in 2084, there is expected to be more than 100,000 centenarians!”

Rebekha also spoke about the Private Member’s Bill she introduced into the Parliament in her first fortnight back after the by-election.

The Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 requires publication of staffing ratios at aged care residential facilities, along with an optional explanation from the provider to explain the reasons for those ratios

The Bill has been welcomed by aged advocacy groups as an intermediate step towards mandatory minimum ratios, a policy that currently does not have the support of the Government.

“I managed to lobby for the Bill to be referred to a House of Representatives Inquiry, so I look forward to a thorough public investigation of staff ratio reporting,” Rebekha said.

Rebekha also touched on the growing waiting list for aged care packages, the increase in the number of older women becoming homeless and the need for an independent commission to decide the aged pension.

“I am also pleased that the Government has announced that it will withdraw legislation to remove the energy supplement from new pensioner payments which would have cut $14.10 a fortnight from the income of single pensioners and $21.20 a fortnight for pensioner couples,” Rebekha said.

“I and my Centre Alliance colleagues in the Senate were opposed to this legislation and advocated strongly against it.

“The argument for removing the supplement was that the carbon tax was no longer in play. However, power bills have continued to rise not go down.”

Local lawyer Nicole Kelly was the second guest speaker at the forum, discussing will, estates, and probate.

Mount Barker Community Centre Manager Sean Hames also outlined the latest news from the centre, including the organisation’s proposed move to the TAFE complex in Mount Barker.