The Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria, Cr Kris Pavlidis, has called on the Federal Government to do more to help pensioners, particularly those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds – as a matter of high priority.
“Many of our older constituents, in particular, who are on the Age Pension, are experiencing considerable financial and economic hardship, and this, in many instances, has impacted on peoples’ overall wellbeing,” Cr Pavlidis said.
“ECCV consultations with our constituents have shown that the Age Pension was deemed inadequate by the majority of pensioners who relied on it for their principal source of income.
“We have found from our consultations with elderly people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, that pensioners are often forced to take drastic measures in order to survive, including cutting down on food consumption, transportation, social participation and even healthcare – and something needs to be done about this as a matter of urgency.”
Cr Pavlidis said it’s of serious concern to hear our elderly saying “I don’t go out at all”, “I can’t say I’m going to an outing because I have got to pay bills and that affects my mental health” and “the older you are, the worse it becomes”.
ECCV is aware that changes to the residency requirements of the proposed Social Services Legislation Amendment (Payment Integrity) Bill 2017, would adversely impact on more newly arrived older migrants who have resided in Australia for less than 15 years (and if people haven’t worked in Australia or have received activity tested income support). The bill also proposes to cease the pension supplement after six-weeks temporary absence overseas. ECCV recognises the advocacy efforts on these specific issues by the Chinese Australian Services Society in their submission to the Australian Senate.
“ECCV advocates for retaining the current residency requirements for the eligibility of the Age Pension. ECCV also calls on the Commonwealth Government to consider retaining the continuation of the pension supplement after a six-week temporary absence of pensioners at the reduced basic rate rather than ceasing it completely,” Cr Pavlidis said.
“We look forward to working with the Commonwealth Government to help ensure a more equitable Age Pension system for Australia’s pensioners.”
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ECCV expresses its appreciation to community organisations which continue to advocate on Age Pension issues, particularly the Federation of Greek Elderly Citizens Club of Melbourne and Victoria, Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition Victoria, and the Australian Pensioners Voice.