A publication offering information, guidance and inspiration to Australian senior citizens
Cover image Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM, 2013 Senior Australian of the Year.
Message from the Minister 4
Feature story 5
Online 101 10
Grey Nomads 18
Anzac Day 2013 20
Letters to the Editor 26
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To view English and non-English versions go to humanservices.gov.au/newsforseniors
DISCLAIMER The Australian Government has attempted to ensure the information in this publication is accurate. However, the Government does not warrant that the information is accurate or complete nor will it be liable for any loss suffered by any person because they rely in any way on it. You should contact your local Department of Human Services office or Department of Veterans’ Affairs state office for full details of any entitlements and services to which you may be eligible, or how any pending changes in legislation, programs or services may affect you.
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In this Issue
Life as an Australian with more than half a century behind you comes with a lot of responsibility.
As a community we look to our senior members to be the counsellors, nurturers and healers for us all.
There have been many such figures who have taken part in altering our path as a nation. The Senior Australian of the Year award was created in recognition of this critical role, and we are proud to celebrate the 2013 recipient, Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM, in this edition.
Every year, the Australia Day awards reflect our nation’s identity, displaying our evolving relationship with the rest of the world, our love of sport, our multiculturalism, our belief in tolerance and fairness and the special status of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
As David Marr noted, “Money and power aren’t the point here. The rich have no place on the list. Raw success isn’t enough. There has to be something more, some sense of distinction that lifts a candidate out of the ruck of the famous.” (The Australian, 26 January 2012).
Life is a highway
Over the past decade, more seniors have been opting to spend time and money on the open road.
It’s predicted that, by 2050, the number of Grey Nomads will more than double the thousands already setting off today.
These days they travel in comfort, with UHF radios, solar panels and barbeques. Some even have access to digital television whilst on the road.
Read more about the caravanning craze and life on the open road on page 18.
“Staying connected in later life” is becoming the catch-cry for the over 55 age group in the 2010s.
Online technology has become an increasingly effective way of communicating with the world; be it with immediate friends and family, overseas relatives or colleagues.
While there are many traditionalists out there, increasingly people of all ages are becoming aware of how digital communication may benefit them.
Take for instance the Murray Bridge community in rural South Australia. The Murray Mallee Aged Care Group recognised the potential for the seniors they care for to be able to connect with their community from the comfort of their own homes. A three-year government-funded project ensued, keeping both seniors and their service providers connected and informed.
Read more about older Australians powering ahead online in our “Technology” section (page 10), along with other articles to help you join them today.
I am honoured to be appointed as the Minister for Human Services, after having served as the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers for the past two and a half years and after nearly a decade of being involved in the disability, carers and health sectors.
In Australia we have the opportunity to break down barriers to build a strong inclusive society. One where people have the right to live their lives the way they want—where they can achieve their aspirations and be valued by their community. Where people, having worked hard for the majority of their lives are able to feel secure and supported by their government.
My Department works hard to help keep you connected to the world around you. We strive to create stronger, more resilient people and communities through access to clear information and tailored services.
The work of our Smart Centres is a good example of this. Our Smart Centres handled about 38 million calls last financial year—the highest ever recorded.
Another great way to stay connected to government support and services is through our online services. Already, over 600 000 age pensioners have registered to use the Department’s online services to conduct their business and stay connected with us. Our mobile apps, one of which is designed for seniors, are already making it easier for people to reach us where and when they want to.
I look forward to being a part of the development of future service delivery innovations and getting to know the seniors sector even better so that we can work together in the interests of older Australians right across Australia.
Senator the Hon Jan McLucas Minister for Human Services
Australian of the Year Awards
Ita Buttrose is certainly not about to take her responsibility as 2013 Australian of the Year lightly.
In accepting the Australia Day award she promised that she would use her title to reverse what she perceives as “ageist attitudes” in our society. “Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you’re not a person.”
Ms Buttrose, 71, was acknowledged for her groundbreaking media career in the traditionally male-dominated world of print media, as well as her ongoing dedication to raising awareness of health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer.
The achievements attributed to Ms Buttrose as Australian of the Year and Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM, who was awarded Senior Australian of the Year, are not without similarities.
Now 82, Professor Maddocks is a renowned palliative care specialist whose work helping the terminally ill correlates with his passionate advocacy for peace. He has been a key leader for many years in both the Medical Association for the Prevention of War and the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War—an organisation which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in 1985.
When asked by ABC journalist Ashley Hall why he believes he won the award, Professor Maddocks said: “Well partly because I’m old...” He then went on to say, “...and partly, I guess, people are interested in some of the things that I’ve been able to do in this rather extended life. But I think mainly it’s a matter of celebrating palliative care, which has been the discipline I’ve been involved in for the last 25 years. And that’s care of the dying, it’s about how you can make terminal illness into something which is positive and which a family can feel happy with as they see the departure of the loved one going well.”
If there’s someone who you think should be considered for the Australian of the Year Awards 2014, nominate them with a form you can get from any Commonwealth Bank branch, fill out the online form at australianoftheyear.org.au or call 1300 655 193.
Australia and Latvia—new social security agreement
On 1 January 2013, the social security agreement between Australia and Latvia started.
If you have lived in Latvia, the new agreement may be able to help you receive an Australian Age Pension and/or one of the following Latvian pensions:
• Age pension
• Survivor’s pension.
The agreement allows you to combine your periods of residence in Australia and Latvian insurance periods to help you qualify for benefits from both countries.
If you think you may be eligible to receive a Latvian pension, but have not received claim forms yet, you can call our International Services to arrange for the forms to be sent to you. We also provide a free service to help you fill in forms and photocopy and certify original documents needed for your claim. We will verify your periods of residence in Australia and send the claim documents to Latvia.
For more information:
• visit the Department of Human Services website humanservices.gov.au/international and download the Social Security Agreement between Australia and Latvia factsheet, available in English and Latvian
• call the Department of Human Services, International Services call centre on 131 673, or
• call 131 202 to speak to someone in a language other than English.
Express Plus Seniors
The Express Plus Seniors App is ready to download for a simple, fast and mobile way for you to do your Centrelink business.
If you get the Age Pension and have a smart phone or tablet you may be able to use Express Plus Seniors.
Retired Victorian academic Patricia Reeve has been making the most of her Express Plus Seniors App since it was launched in December last year.
“It’s another option and people can choose which option suits them best, but it’s so flexible I think I’ll be using this one all the time,” Patricia says.
“I can report my fortnightly income while I’m working part-time and having a part pension. There’s also my correspondence with the Department I can have on here so I don’t have to remember where I’ve filed it or not filed it or shoved it in the cupboard. And I can get access to that anywhere.”
• use a reporting timesheet to record daily earnings
• report your income.
Financial Information Service
Financial knowledge can help you make informed decisions to manage your finances.
The Department of Human Services’ Financial Information Service (FIS) officers provide free, independent education and financial information through seminars, or you can talk to a FIS officer over the phone or by appointment. You do not need to be receiving a government payment to talk to them.
Financial Information Service officers provide information to help people make informed decisions about investment and financial issues.
They are not financial planners and do not give or sell advice or purchase investment products.
The seminars are aimed at people in the workforce, people who are about to retire and people who have already retired. They are free, and you can attend as many as you like. Families and groups are welcome at all seminars, but bookings are essential.
Topics covered in the seminars include:
• creating wealth
• understanding superannuation
• understanding different kinds of investments
• Age Pension, and
• accommodation options in retirement.
You can contact the Financial Information Service by calling 132 300. Go to humanservices.gov.au/fis to find a list of local seminars and then call 136 357 to make a booking.
Leaving the country? Update your income before you go....
If you are a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holder and are planning to travel outside Australia for more than six weeks, you should update your income amount before leaving to avoid a lengthy re-claim process.
New rules from 1 January 2013 mean that your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card will be cancelled if you’re outside Australia for more than six weeks. If you update your income amounts before you leave and contact us as soon as you can when you return to Australia, this will allow for a quick re-claim to be done over the phone.
This sort of re-claim can only be made within 13 weeks of your card being cancelled. If it’s between 13 and 26 weeks of cancellation you will have to re-claim either online or by paper claim. After 26 weeks, you will need to make a full claim either online or by paper claim.
For more information go to humanservices.gov.au/seniorshealthcard or call 132 300.
Low-cost computers expand your horizons
There are moments in life when the world is at your feet. Racing down the hill with the training wheels off your bike. Cashing your first pay-cheque from your very first paying job. Setting off on the trip of a lifetime, with a dream but no fixed plans. It’s freedom.
As we get older it can feel that the summits have all been reached. But what if the world could be at our feet once more—or even better, at our fingertips?
That’s a feeling that Cassandra Cooke knows well.
At 65, she lives with chronic back pain and a health condition that requires her to be on oxygen 24 hours a day. It’s hard to leave home for long periods of time, and everyday errands can be a struggle.
But Cassandra is still stocking her own pantry, living independently, and seeing her family and friends all the time.
What’s her secret? A home computer. With email and online shopping, the power’s all in Cassandra’s hands.
“Being able to email my friends and talk to my Dad with a web camera via the internet is very important to me,” Cassandra says. “Since it’s not easy for me to leave the house, it really keeps my spirits up.”
So when Cassandra’s computer broke down in late October, there was no time to spare. A friend gave Cassandra the number for WorkVentures, a not-for-profit enterprise offering low-cost computers.
“I wasn’t sure if I would be eligible to purchase a computer from WorkVentures, but when I phoned them they had no hesitation. They were absolutely wonderful,” Cassandra says. “I explained to them that I needed a computer to order groceries online and they were so understanding of the urgency that they built a computer for me and had it sent over within 24 hours.”
Cassandra applied for an advance on her Age Pension to cover the cost of the computer, which she will pay back in $30 fortnightly instalments. “I borrowed the money right away so I could get the computer as soon as possible. Everyone was so helpful.”
Now WorkVentures wants to spread the word to seniors.
“Our goal is to help those who’ve traditionally been on the wrong side of the digital divide to take charge of their lives through technology,” says WorkVentures CEO Arsenio Alegre. “Our affordable and user-friendly computers are important; but so too are the friendly staff on the free WorkVentures hotline and the video tutorial package.”
WorkVentures offers refurbished computer packages, including video tutorials and delivery, from $269. For more information contact WorkVentures on 1800 112 205 or collect a Low Cost Computer flyer from any Centrelink Service Centre.
Make the internet your own
Senator Jan McLucas: I rely on the internet to keep up with all the news. I have online subscriptions to the major newspapers. Being a senator from North Queensland, I regularly travel to different parts of Australia. It’s handy to know what the weather’s doing, so bom.gov.au is a necessity for me!
Senator Stephen Conroy: I’m proud to support Internet Basics, a new website the Government has developed specifically for newcomers to the web. You can learn how to set up an email account, how to find what you’re looking for using search engines, and connect with family and friends in a safe and secure manner. It’s available online at Internetbasics.gov.au or through the Government’s Digital Hubs program. Visit dbcde.gov.au/digitalhubs to see if there’s a hub near you.
Arsenio Alegre: I’m a big fan of Skype. It allows two people to video chat wherever they are in the world, at a much lower cost than a landline or mobile phone call. Facebook is another great way to swap news with friends and keep an eye on what the grandkids are up to. WorkVentures has developed new tutorials to get people started, based on the questions that seniors have asked us in the past. Further information about courses and training offered by WorkVentures can be found on our website, workventures.com.au
Hank Jongen: I encourage all seniors who are online to sign up for our online services at australia.gov.au Once you’re registered, it’s a fast and easy way to stay on top of your entitlements. You can also keep up with all the news from the Government through our website, humanservices.gov.au—including News for Seniors!
Have you got a favourite website or online service? Send in your tips for the next edition of News for Seniors.
Move over, Gen Y—Australia’s seniors are getting online.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that the number of older Australians using the internet almost doubled between 2003 and 2009—a survey revealed that 42 per cent of people aged 60 or over accessed the internet within the previous 12 months. And the trend is on the up.
“Senior surfers” are mostly using it for email, accessing chat sites and government services, paying bills and shopping.
And with more seniors getting online, there’s a new demand for fast and reliable access. That’s where the National Broadband Network (NBN) comes into play.
Under this federal government program, 93 per cent of Australian homes and businesses will receive a super-high-speed optical fibre connection that will replace the ageing copper network currently used for home phones and the internet. The remaining 7 per cent in regional and remote areas of Australia will be connected to fixed wireless and satellite technologies, both of which offer fast, more reliable broadband internet connections.
Nan Bosler, president of the Australian Seniors Computers Club Association, says: “With the increased capacity and speed so many more things are going to be possible. It’s just fantastic to help seniors open up new doors.”
Some NBN telephone plans are offering untimed national calls for just 10 cents, and calls to countries around the world from just a cent a minute. The NBN could also mean you can stay in your own home for longer, building on the experience of people like Cassandra Cooke (on page 10). And it’s not just the groceries that will come home-delivered.
David Ryan, from the Grampians Rural Health Alliance, says: “People with chronic diseases, like diabetes or heart failure or asthma, will be able to have their condition remotely monitored. They’ll be at home. They’ll be able to take their blood sugar levels or their peak flows, and also have a video consult with a nurse in a remote location.”
“The National Broadband Network means better access to healthcare for people around the country,” says Dr Penelope McNulty from Neuroscience Research Australia. “We’ll be able to take therapy to them, instead of asking them to come to us.”
So it’s a brave new world—with a place for every senior.
Computer tutors wanted for broadband kiosks
New Broadband for Seniors kiosks are continuing to open around the country, with about 2,000 now active across Australia.
The volunteer tutors based in the kiosks provide people aged 50 years and over with free, personalised support and training in how to use a computer and the internet in an environment that is welcoming and suited to their needs.
Andrew Leung, himself a senior, has been a volunteer tutor at the Finbar Neighbourhood House kiosk in Richmond, Victoria, since the kiosk began in 2010.
He volunteers four days a week and has even been known to make house calls if people are unable to attend tutorials or have purchased a new computer and need help setting it up.
“I think one-on-one tutoring for seniors is very important,” he says.
The communication ties developed at the kiosks are a lot more far-reaching than the immediate group, with participants often taking their new-found knowledge back to friends and family to encourage them to get online.
“Seniors are more interested in learning how to connect with their family and friends after finding out about family trees or by accessing information about their favourite pastime or hobby,” Andrew says.
“A senior’s life is enriched once they no longer fear the internet, and feelings of isolation and loneliness are also reduced.”
Broadband for Seniors kiosks are always looking for new volunteer tutors, like Andrew, who are able to spare some time to help other older Australians connect with their community.
Organisations interested in hosting a Broadband for Seniors kiosk, or seniors keen to volunteer as a tutor, should call the Broadband for Seniors helpline on 1300 795 897 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Locations of Broadband for Seniors kiosks across Australia are available from the Broadband for Seniors website at necseniors.net.au
The mere suggestion that we are unable to survive without technology is enough to siphon a groan from some of us, but there is certainly no denying that in a lot of respects it has made life somewhat easier.
The senior inhabitants of the Murray Mallee—a vast grain-growing and sheep-farming area in rural South Australia—have recently turned to technology to alleviate the negative effects of their geographical isolation.
The Murray Mallee Aged Group Inc—an aged care service provider based in Murray Bridge—recently completed a research project funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing, aimed at keeping their senior citizens engaged with the wider community via online technology.
Participants engaged in the three-year project Linking Rural Older People to Community through Technology were provided with their choice of a laptop or tablet, 3G internet connection and self-directed, personalised tuition.
“The research entailed using these new technologies to strengthen community connections for older people who choose to age at home and, as a result, are at risk of social isolation,” Project Manager Bernadette Boag explains.
“It also allowed us to explore ways to streamline service delivery for providers in the aged care sector in the Murray Mallee region.”
Bernadette says the participants embraced the opportunity to learn and connect with the technology.
“In order to dispel the myths that older people are disengaged from the wider world, we first need to understand their needs and preferences for learning and using new technologies and then incorporate these into their daily life,” Bernadette says.
“Many of the participants have gone on to purchase their own devices, so we’ve set up a fortnightly drop-in session to support these now tech-savvy seniors.
“As researchers, policy makers and service providers it is important that we do not embrace ageist beliefs about older people being unable to learn and unwilling to adopt new technologies.”
For more information you can go to murraymallee.org.au or call 08 8532 2255.
In December 2012, the Murray Mallee Aged Care Group was awarded the Advantage SA Overall Winner in the Health Category for South Australia.
There is a potential demand by this older cohort for simpler, age specific designs in new technologies and appropriate training. With the rapid changes in new technologies and newer devices being more ‘user friendly,’ adoption rates may increase in older cohorts if they are offered positive opportunities for interaction with new technologies and appropriate training. (Linking Rural Older People to Technology—Project Summary, August 2012)
Control your own health records
The Ambassador for Ageing, Noeline Brown (pictured), is encouraging older Australians to register for an eHealth record—a new way to manage health information online.
“Having an eHealth record means your important health information is available online as you need it, day or night,” Noeline says.
“It also means that the doctors, nurses and other health professionals involved in your care have the information they need to make the best possible decisions about your health—no matter when or where you may need treatment.
“An eHealth record provides peace of mind and means not having to remember every detail of your medications or tests when you visit a doctor, particularly one you’ve not seen before.”
“Most importantly, it is safe and secure and can be set up so you can have a trusted person, like a family member or carer, help you manage your record, if you wish,” she says.
The Australian Government’s eHealth record was launched in July 2012 and people can now create their own record.
Register now for an eHealth record at ehealth.gov.au or call 1800 723 471.
Little book of life
While we all live in an advanced technological age, we haven’t quite reached the stage where books are a thing of the past. Particularly one little best seller!
Almost one million copies of the Emergency Medical Information Book have been produced and distributed since 1999. If you have one, you will know that it contains all of your information and medical records needed in an emergency.
If you don’t have one and you live alone, have any medical conditions and/or take prescription medications, you should get one.
This book contains everything a paramedic needs to know about you as their patient—medical history, medications and allergies—so they can confidently treat and get you to hospital without delay.
The book is available from Rotary/Lions Clubs in every state in Australia, sometimes at a cost of only a gold coin donation to help cover the cost of production.
Go to emib.org.au for more information or to download an order form, or call 08 8264 2117.
Eva’s caravan cooking adventures
Most Australians would rather “rough it” on the road in campervans, caravans and motorhomes than own a holiday home, according to recent research.
Eva Stovern and her husband Thom share this passion with many fellow trekkers, opting for a more cost-efficient way of travelling around Australia and enjoying the environment and wildlife.
Spending four to six months a year caravanning has also inspired Eva to cook outdoors and create new recipes to share with fellow travellers.
“I will never forget the day I decided to write my first cookbook,” Eva says.
“A friend who was visiting me in my caravan loved my chicken casserole and an idea was born.”
In Caravan Chef 1 & 2 and The Complete Caravan Chef cookbooks, Eva shows how to cook over 130 meals out of 30 basic ingredients most commonly stocked in peoples’ pantries.
“My recipes are cost effective, nutritious and easy to prepare,” Eva says.
“Written for two people, there is no wastage; plus, as an added bonus, I supply the shopping list.”
Her cookbooks cater for anyone cooking in limited space or on a budget, many of whom are seniors travelling as a couple. However, single seniors living alone, students and young travellers may also find them useful.
“Travelling within Australia can be enjoyed on any budget and on any level of comfort or ability. Vans are also getting more luxurious with modern, well-planned kitchens,” Eva says.
“Apart from not being able to cook for my family, I only miss my large bathtub at home when I’m on the road.”
Follow Eva and Thom’s travel adventure and cooking tips at caravanchef.com
You can also email Eva at email@example.com and find her recipes on YouTube at youtube.com/user/CaravanChefTV
Eva’s Top Ten Travel Tips
Don’t say you can’t do it.
Avoid driving after dark.
Take rest stops regularly.
Prepare for all weather conditions.
Don’t overload on cookbooks.
Always have your camera handy.
Check and prepare all equipment before leaving home.
Top up your fuel when half full.
Keep in touch with friends or family.
Treat every day as an opportunity to savour our beautiful country.
Dissolve the chicken stock powder in the hot water. Toss the chicken in the flour until evenly coated. Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the chicken on a medium heat for two minutes, or until the meat changes colour. Remove from the pan and set aside. Top up the pan with a dash of oil and sauté the onion on a medium heat for one minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute, or until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the peas, carrot, potatoes, cauliflower, soy sauce and liquid stock. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through. Season to taste and serve.
Extract from The Complete Caravan Chef by Eva Stovern (Hardie Grant / SBS Books, RRP $29.95)
Never miss your favourite TV shows again!
Travelling around Australia in a caravan is a fantastic way to take in the beauty of this great country. However, leaving behind the creature comforts of home can sometimes feel like you’re missing out. This doesn’t have to apply to your favourite TV shows any more.
People living and travelling through regional and remote areas now have access to at least 16 digital TV channels through the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service.
The service is an Australian Government-funded free-to-air satellite service for people who can’t get digital TV through their normal antenna due to the terrain or remoteness of the area, or for those travelling in regional and remote areas of the country.
Already, more than 16,000 travellers have access to TV wherever they go and can keep up with news or their favourite shows on the road. It also means the end of constant—sometimes fruitless—searching for terrestrial TV signals in a new town.
SBS radio services are also available on VAST and the ABC will be providing a wide range of its radio services (including digital radio services) on VAST by the end of 2013.
Visit digitalready.gov.au or call 1800 201 013 to find out more about digital TV and the VAST service.
How can I access VAST?
• Apply for VAST and meet eligibility requirements.
• Contact your local antenna installer, check online retailers, or contact Altech UEC on 02 9425 5777 to find out where you can buy in person—you can buy directly from them too.
How much is VAST?
• Purchase a high definition VAST set-top box with the smart card for each TV—about $280 (inc GST)—and $100-$500 for a satellite dish, depending on the size of the dish required.
• The cost to install VAST is a one-off cost; there are no ongoing subscription or other costs.
Senior veterans still serving
Every April Australians pause to honour those who served the nation in war—and the many veterans who still serve us today, including in the tiny Victorian town of Warburton.
Bill Major, Secretary and Treasurer of the Warburton RSL, is not a man to boast. “We’re nothing special here in Warburton. We don’t blow the trumpet or wave the flag. We just do things.”
The proof is on display all around the local clubhouse.
Boxes of gifts are piled up on the tables ready for distribution to the troops overseas and the residents of local nursing homes.
They’re the work of a formidable team of Legacy widows. Val and Doreen, who’ll visit anyone in need of a friend; Naomi, who could “flog ice to Eskimos”; Margaret, whose husband was one of the first Australians to be posted to Vietnam; and Gloria and Bonnie, who keep the men in line.
Out the back is a partially finished toolshed, the headquarters for a new handyman service. Handyman co-ordinator and Senior Vice President Jamie, with his assistant Lindsay, will fix any problem for an elderly person living alone—or he’ll know someone who can.
“We’re not all seniors in the Warburton sub-branch,” says Keith. “And we’re always changing. There’s a new generation of soldiers to support on the front-line. There are different responsibilities for people back home. But RSLs have always been the organisations they needed to be. That’s why they last.”
“It’s built within you,” says Bill. “You serve your country, you serve your community. Go to any country town, and you’ll find a club like ours.”
On Anzac Day, we salute them all.
Veteran volunteer—Mr Albert Grulke
I started as a volunteer welfare and pensions officer with Legacy and then began working in the local veteran community.
I try to avoid using the word “welfare” because I do not believe that is what we provide. We, as veterans, support our fellow veterans, widows and families when they run up against some of the hurdles of life.
We don’t tell people what they should do, but rather let them know their options and introduce them to people in our networks who can help.
We volunteer to help because that is what soldiers do. We support and protect each other in good and bad times.
Visiting Gallipoli or France for Anzac Day 2013?
Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli recognise the 8,700 Australians who died during the Gallipoli campaign—the first major military action fought by Australia and New Zealand during the First World War.
Up to 10,000 pilgrims attend the commemorations each year. If you’re planning to attend in 2013 visit www.dva.gov.au/gallipoli to find out how to prepare, what to expect and how to register for updates.
The Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial, near Villers-Bretonneux, honours the 295,000 Australians who fought on the Western Front and the more than 46,000 who died there.
On average, more than 4,000 people attend the Dawn Service each year. To receive handy tips on what to expect, including updates on the commemorations and traffic arrangements, register at www.dva.gov.au/france
How your pension increase is worked out
Pensions are indexed every 20 March and 20 September to keep pace with changes in the cost of living.
You may receive less than the full fortnight’s increase in your first payment after 20 March or 20 September, depending on the exact date of your payment. After that, you will receive the full fortnightly increase.
The amount of increase in pension rate can vary depending on what is happening to prices and wages in the economy.
The increase to the full pension rate is worked out using a two-step process. First, the maximum rate of pension is increased by the higher of the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the increase in the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI).
Then, we compare the result with the latest Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE), put out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The pension is guaranteed not to fall below a percentage of this figure, so if wages have been growing, the pension sometimes has to be increased further.
The Consumer Price Index is a measure of price inflation for all Australians.
The Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index was introduced as part of the Government’s Secure and Sustainable 2009 Pension Reforms. It takes into account the kinds of things that pensioners spend more money on, like food, electricity and health, including pharmaceuticals.
Since the Government’s pension reforms in 2009, the maximum rate of pension has increased by about $207 a fortnight for single pensioners and about $236 a fortnight for pensioner couples combined.
Decrease in deeming rates
From 20 March 2013, the deeming rate decreased from 3 to 2.5 per cent for the first $45,400 of total financial investments held by a single pensioner or to the first $75,600 for a pensioner couple. For financial investments in excess of these amounts, the deeming rate decreased from 4.5 to 4 per cent.
The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, said that the deeming rates had been reduced to better reflect returns available to pensioners on their investments.
The deeming rates are used to assess income from financial investments for pension and allowance purposes.
Based on these deeming rates, under the income test a single pensioner whose only income is from financial investments can have $115,800 in investments and still receive a full pension, while a pensioner couple can have $202,500 and still receive a full pension.
If pensioners earn more than the deeming rates, the extra income is not assessed.
For more information call 132 300 or visit humanservices.gov.au
Clean Energy Supplement payments begin
The Clean Energy Supplement is an ongoing payment that will be added to your regular Centrelink payment from 22 March 2013.
If you are eligible you will be paid the Clean Energy Supplement automatically and you do not need to contact us.
If you receive the Pension Supplement quarterly or the Seniors Supplement, your first Clean Energy Supplement will be paid with this payment in June 2013.
The amount of your Clean Energy Supplement depends on your circumstances and the payment you receive.
The Clean Energy Supplement is part of the Government’s Household Assistance Package and builds on the one-off Household Assistance payment millions of Australians received in May or June last year.
For more information go to humanservices.gov.au/householdassistance or call 132 468.
From the Editor
The 90th edition of News for Seniors—can you believe it?
I’m proud to say I have been associated with this publication since its inception. I wonder how many of our readers remember the very first edition that we produced
24 years ago. I would love to hear from you if you do!
Here at News for Seniors we’ve been calling this 90th edition “the technology issue”.
Online technology enables us to experience a two-dimensional version of the world at our fingertips, but some, understandably, see it as intimidating and invasive.
Either way, I hope you take something from our articles on information technology; how it can be a good thing and the options that are out there to help you get online.
On that note, I’ll leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Oh, and happy 90th edition!
Hank Jongen—Editor News for Seniors
Mail: PO Box 7788 Canberra BC ACT 2610
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for feedback on the magazine
Letters to the Editor
The article, “Homelessness: too close to home” (Issue 88), was definitely too close to home for me and I felt compelled to write to you about what I am experiencing.
I never anticipated homelessness at my age, but circumstances will soon have me in this predicament. I am more fortunate than many and have a family who would never see me on the streets, so I will at least have a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. For this I am thankful, yet it doesn’t alleviate the feeling of helplessness.
It’s not just not having your own home—it’s the other things like, what does one do with furniture and personal possessions while staying with family? If stored, it will eventually necessitate moving these twice, once affordable accommodation becomes available. This in itself can be a costly venture and just adds to the anxiety one feels in this vulnerable state of mind.
It’s also the sleepless nights, the stomach upsets and the despondency, aloneness and utter despair one feels while in this difficult situation.
I know, for me, this too will pass, but my heart goes out to all those who don’t have family support or a roof over their head, no personal possessions and can see no light at the end of the tunnel.
I am sorry to learn about the difficulties you have experienced and am deeply touched by your strength and resilience.
There are many reasons for homelessness; however, the Department has a range of payments to assist people in need, including crisis payments. Rent assistance is also available to assist with the cost of accommodation.
State and territory governments can help people in difficult circumstances find public housing. I have provided the names of the relevant state/territory government departments (at right) that may be of assistance to yourself and others in the same situation.
During difficult times, you can speak to one of our social workers about a range of issues, including homelessness, domestic and family violence, relationship breakdown, loss and bereavement, mental health, and addictions.
Call us on 131 794 and ask to speak to a social worker.
I wish you the very best for the future.
ACT Housing and Community Services
NSW Housing NSW
1300 468 746
NT Department of Housing (Darwin)
08 8999 5511
QLD Department of Communities—housing and homeless services
1300 880 882 communities.qld.gov.au
SA Department for Communities and Social Inclusion
131 299 (SA only)
TAS Department of Health and Human Services
1300 135 513
VIC Department of Human Services (VIC)
1300 650 172
WA Department of Housing
1800 093 325
Crosswords and Scrabble do not interest me, although these are recommended as being good for the brains of seniors.
However, I am in the ongoing process of writing my autobiography. I am aware that publishers do not look kindly on “one off” manuscripts by unknowns, but I feel that my age group—I am 82—has a lot to offer the younger generations.
I realise I have the advantage of a lifetime’s secretarial work, but with the popularity of computers and word processing, the task becomes easier for seniors.
So, how about it, you wartime children? Get typing! Even if your story outlives you!
Dear Ms S,
Congratulations on your project—it’s a great memoir to pass down to your family. Another fantastic way of keeping the family tree alive would be if your descendants added to it, to keep the story going through the generations.
I appreciate you taking the time to write to me and wish you every success with your autobiography.