The need for supports for older Victorians is ever-increasing, backed by national research released this week by the COTA Federation that highlights a range of pressures being faced.
In its third edition, State of the Older Nation (SOTON) details the experiences and views of a representative sample of Australians aged 50 and over in each state and territory. This year’s report shows that significantly more older Victorians feel financially insecure, have difficulties accessing health services, and worry about their risk of homelessness. This is impacting their quality of life — 42% of the older Victorians surveyed believe that things are getting more difficult.
“The pressures acknowledged in the survey will make ageing harder in Victoria and will lead to worse outcomes for older Victorians regarding their financial stability, health, and independence,” Chris Potaris, CEO of COTA Victoria, said.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic is seemingly over for most Australians, it is not in the minds of older Victorians. As new COVID-19 cases rise while temperatures dip, more than one third (36%) reported they have been quite affected by the virus.
“Victoria was affected by COVID-19 more so than any other state,” Mr Potaris said. “The pandemic highlighted the dire need to address social isolation and digital exclusion among seniors.
“An inability to access information is a key area of concern we hear time and time again in Victoria,” Mr Potaris continued. “Ensuring that older Australians are connected, included, and able to access information is essential now more than ever so older Victorians are not left in the lurch, isolated and disconnected.”
The report also highlights older Victorians are feeling the strain on their hip-pocket; almost one-fifth (19%) feel insecure about their finances being adequate to meet their needs throughout the rest of their lives, and 18% have overdue bills due to payment difficulties. The number of those struggling to pay power bills has almost doubled since 2018.
“While the cost-of-living crisis rages on causing undue financial stress, we need to make sure older Victorians know they’re not alone,” Chris Potaris, CEO of COTA Victoria, said.
“Community supports already exist — such as financial support for energy costs — but older Victorians need to be made aware of that,” Mr Potaris continued. “More importantly, they may need help in accessing that support.
“We need to make sure that older people, their families, carers, and practitioners are aware of available opportunities. It is vital for preventing loss of independence, isolation, and improving mental health and wellbeing.”
While the majority of older Victorians are positive about their local area, some 20% rate their sense of connection with community as poor.
“Community connections are vital in the prevention of social isolation and elder abuse,” said Mr Potaris. “They positively impact the mental health and wellbeing of older Victorians. We need to encourage connection.”
COTA Victoria will launch a new campaign called Older, Not Alone for this very reason. Running over the winter months, Older, Not Alone is a public campaign that will drive attention to existing community resources that support older Victorians, and the ways in which this cohort and their loved ones can access truly vital support mechanisms.
The full State of the Older Nation 2023 report is available here.
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Disclaimer: The research was undertaken by SEC Newgate Research in compliance with the Australian Polling Council Quality Mark standards. The Long Methodology Disclosure Statement for this research can be viewed here: https://www.newgatecomms.com.au/disclosure-statements/
Marketing & Communications Manager, COTA Victoria
P: +61 3 9655 2159 | firstname.lastname@example.org
About COTA: The Council on the Ageing (COTA)’s role is to promote, improve and protect the wellbeing of older people in Australia as citizens and consumers. COTA advances the rights, interests, and futures of Australians as we age. In 2018, the Federation of the nine COTAs across Australia commissioned SEC Newgate Research to conduct a nationally representative survey to understand more about the lives, views and requirements of Australians aged 50 and over. This State of the Older Nation survey was repeated in 2021 and 2023 to monitor trends over time, and the impact of any changes made to improve the lives of older Australians. This report contains the 2023 findings and draws comparisons with earlier years.
About COTA Victoria: COTA Victoria is the leading not-for-profit organisation representing the interests and rights of people aged over 50 in Victoria. For over 70 years, we have led government, corporate and community thinking about the positive aspects of ageing in the state. Today, our focus is on promoting opportunities for and protecting the legal rights of people 50+. We value ageing and embrace its opportunities for personal growth, contribution, and self-expression. This belief drives benefits to the nation and its states alongside communities, families, and individuals.
About Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV): SRV is a program of COTA Victoria and the key state-wide service dedicated to advancing the rights of older people and the early intervention into, or prevention of, elder abuse in our community. SRV has a team of experienced advocates, lawyers, and social workers who provide free information, advice, referral, legal advice, legal casework, and support to older people who are either at risk of or are experiencing elder abuse. SRV supports and empowers older people through the provision of legal advice directly to the older person.