Australias oldest charity urges action on inadequate age pension again during Seniors Week

6 March 2017

MEDIA RELEASE 

Australia’s oldest charity urges action on inadequate age pension..again..during Seniors Week 

The Benevolent Society continues to focus on advocating for older Australians to live their best life. Now, during Seniors Week, it is again time to acknowledge how inadequate the age pension is and The Benevolent Society is calling on people to consider the situation of tens of thousand of seniors in NSW who rely solely on the Age Pension as their income source. 

The Benevolent Society launched the #fixpensionpoverty campaign in September after releasing a research report, together with Research organisation Per Capita and The Longevity Innovation Hub, that indicated the Age Pension was woefully inadequate. The core message of The Adequacy of the Age Pension in Australia: An assessment of pensioner living standards was that many older Australians living on the Age Pension basically lived at such a low living standard that it was undignified, insufficient and inadequate. Too many older Australians living solely on the Age Pension are living in poverty, particularly those renting on the private market. 

“It is clear,” says The Benevolent Society’s Executive Director, Strategic Engagement Research and Advocacy Dr Kirsty Nowlan, “that the Age Pension is inadequate. It is unacceptable that people who have contributed to society all their lives are forced to live at or below the poverty line.” 

The Benevolent Society is asking people to sign up to support its campaign to #fixpensionpoverty. The Benevolent Society has outlined a number of measures including calling for the establishment of an independent Pension Tribunal. Currently, increases to the Age Pension are determined by complex two-tiered benchmarking and indexation every six months, not closely linked to community living standards, price changes and actual cost of living. A Pension Tribunal will provide an independent, expert mechanism for setting a fair base rate for the Age Pension. 

The Benevolent Society has been advocating for a decent Age Pension for 120 years. It began in 1896 with the drawing up of a manifesto for the Old Age Pensions League which ran for over five years. Prior to this call for a pension, assistance was provided to people in need by charitable organisations like The Benevolent Society. 

Former Benevolent Society President, Arthur Renwick, led the campaign resulting in the introduction on an Old Age Pension in NSW in 1901, the first of its kind in the world. In the same decade, an age pension was introduced in Victoria, Queensland and the by the Commonwealth. 

“Advocating for support to enable people to live a better life has been a core mission of The Benevolent Society from its inception,” says Dr Nowlan. “We will be pursuing our advocacy agenda and engaging in community discussions with older Australians and leaders across Australia to affect change in this vital area.” 

The Benevolent Society calls on all Australians to sign up to the #fixpensionpoverty campaign here.

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For interviews with Dr Nowlan, please contact: Melanie King, Manager Media Relations & Public Affairs, The Benevolent Society 02 8262 3547 melanie.king@benevolent.org.au.

About The Benevolent Society The Benevolent Society is Australia’s first charity, working as a catalyst for social change for over 200 years. The Benevolent Society provides quality services in the areas of Child and Family Support and Assistance, and assisting older people and Australians with disability to age well and live a healthy life, staying in their homes wherever possible. For more information, please visit www.benevolent.org.au, on Facebook/thebenevolentsociety or on Twitter - @BenevolentSoc.