Over the past month, we have been hard at work preparing our pre-budget submission. The submission tells the government what needs to be funded in the upcoming budget to help meet the needs of older Victorians.
Call to action!
Now it’s your turn to get involved! The budget won’t be handed down until May next year, so we have plenty of time to lobby for change. Our recommendations are grouped into six focus areas. If you feel passionate about one or more of these focus areas, get involved by contacting your local MP or the relevant minister and asking for the needs of older people to be prioritised. Not sure where to start? Check out our pre-budget advocacy page.
Focus area 1: Enhancing social wellbeing and community connection
Almost half of older Victorians we surveyed said that social isolation and loneliness was a major concern for them during COVID-19. We are asking the Victorian Government to invest in a range of measures to help older people reengage with their communities and to prevent social isolation and loneliness as we learn to live with COVID-19, including:
- continued funding for mental health services that provide wellbeing checks and counselling
- extra funding to help local councils facilitate social activities for older residents
- extra funding for community groups and clubs that facilitate social, learning and volunteering activities for older people
- a new dedicated function within government to support volunteer-led community groups and clubs.
Focus area 2: Improving the health and mobility of older Victorians
Many older people have seen a decline in their physical health and mobility during the pandemic because they couldn’t attend their regular exercise programs. Oral health is another area that requires significant attention. While access to free or low-cost dental services was already lacking prior to the pandemic, the situation has worsened after the ban on preventative or maintenance-based treatments during lockdown. To address these issues, we are asking the Victorian Government to:
- help older people safely reengage in physical activity by facilitating free or low-cost appointments with an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist
- improve access to free or low-cost dental care for older people living in the community
- fund a mobile dental service to provide oral health care to older Victorians in residential aged care.
Focus area 3: Assisting older Victorians to get where they need to go
We continue to work with the Victorian Government to improve the accessibility of public transport in accordance with Victoria’s Transport Accessibility Action Plan 2020-24. Right now, though, there are many older Victorians for whom public transport is not suitable. As such, we’re asking the Victorian Government to:
- fund a thoroughly costed community transport program to provide improved and consistent access to older people across Victoria
- expand the Multi Purpose Taxi Program to provide subsidised travel to older people on low incomes who can’t drive.
Focus area 4: Improving digital inclusion and access to information
An increasing number of services are transitioning to a digital-only environment, leaving many older people behind. We’re asking the Victorian Government to invest in:
- a dedicated phone line that provides information, support and referrals for older Victorians
- extra funding for local libraries and neighbourhood centres to facilitate access to information and online services
- dedicated funding to enable community groups to support older people’s digital confidence
- development of communication strategies across all departments and agencies outlining how they will provide equitable access to information and services for people who are digitally excluded.
Focus area 5: Expanding opportunities for older people to participate in the workforce
Many older people continue to be unfairly excluded from paid employment. We are asking the Victorian Government to:
- provide tailored, wrap-around support to help mature-aged workers secure employment
- invest in a specialised program to retrain unemployed older people who are interested in filling identified workforce gaps in growth industries, particularly aged and disability care.
Focus area 6: Supporting people who have experienced or are at risk of elder abuse
Elder abuse is a recognised form of violence that requires specific attention. The pandemic has increased a number of known risk factors for abuse – particularly financial abuse. We’re asking the Government to: