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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 April 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 APRIL 2019 3 NEWS Pensioners’ endless battle for dignity Australia’s elderly feeling left out by the government A group of members of the Fair Go for Pensioners coalition (FGFP) took to the streets on Thursday calling ministers and parliamentarians to recognise the significant hardship facing senior pensioners today as they struggle with rising costs of living. The coalition tirelessly works on increasing pensions and concessions for low income older people, guaranteeing access to health and aged care services and improving public transport. Since 2009 when they gained significant increases to single age and disability pensions and the pension rate was raised from 25 per cent to 27.2 per cent of average male earnings, they have continued to campaign for the Victorian Government to improve concession discounts in the face of escalating costs for utilities and transport. However, in the 2019-2020 Federal Budget the nation's elderly were shut down with a one-off payment of $75 for singles and $125 for couples to go toward energy bills; pensioners feel left behind. While this amount might be okay for those in good health who can still live independently and own property or savings, that is not the case for many other Australians. This is why, the members committee presented a statement of claims addressed to state and federal MPs raising the pressing issues the elderly are faced with. "Many seniors have not had the opportunity to build superannuation nest eggs like today's workforce and are forced to rely on a very small While bulk-billing helps, if something more serious happens the costs rise significantly making proper care unattainable. The same goes for dental care which more often than not is scraped off the list as a luxury. FGFP also asked that pensions are not restricted due to overseas travel to visit loved ones, something paramount for those who live apart from their children or close members of their family. Meanwhile, the members suggested that more regulations be enacted in order to protect older people who might be considering taking out reverse mortgages, while pushing for a thorough review of the means test and the GST impact for pensioners. PHOTOS: SBS GREEK pension," the statement noted asking that the Federal Government increases the pension rate from 27.7 per cent of average weekly earnings to 35 per cent of aver- age weekly earnings until a more appropriate pension measurement is developed. "[We ask] That proper and improved healthcare measures for pensioners are pri- oritised, including medical, dental, optical, hearing, pharmaceutical and culturally appropriate services," the demands continued, adding that the level of funding for aged care services, including culturally appropriate services, is significantly increased and extended to meet the growing demand in this area. They also demanded that the former State Government pensioner motor vehicle registration concession discount be reintroduced and for utility concession rates to be standardised throughout the year, "in recognition that cooling systems in summer are as important to seniors' health and well being as heating systems in winter". "There should be an increase in the pensioner concession rates for utilities and council fees," the statement said, highlighting that public transport for pensioners "should be free or at least free during off peak hours". "We ask that these issues are addressed as a matter of urgency as many senior pensioners are suffering significant financial hardship which affects their general health and well-being," they concluded. 5-year temporary visa for parents commences in Australia Migrant families wanting to sponsor their parents to come to Australia for up to 10 years will be able to lodge an application to become a sponsor from 17 April 2019. A dedicated team within the Department of Home Affairs has been set up to manage applications and assist families during the application process. Fifteen thousand Temporary Sponsored Parent visas are available each year, giving parents from overseas the opportunity to visit Australia for a continuous period of up to five years. There is also the opportunity to apply for a second visa for another five years after a short period outside Australia, meaning parents and grandparents will be able to spend up to 10 years in Australia. Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the Government will deliver on the strong demand for this visa. "There has been strong interest in this visa from the community, and we are preparing for a considerable number of applications straight away," Mr Coleman said. "The Government is continuing its commitment to deliver this visa, passing it through the Senate last year despite opposition from Labor. "This new visa will ensure family reunions are possible for thousands of migrant families and will deliver great social benefits to families and communities across Australia. "Two parents per household can be sponsored for this visa at a time, ensuring more fam- ilies across Australia have the opportunity to sponsor a parent. The new visa provides an alternative option to Visitor visas which only allow shorter periods of stay or permanent parent visas which are limited and have lengthy waiting times. Parents are still eligible to apply for Visitor visas and/or permanent Parent visas. Measures have been put in place to strengthen the visa framework, and require Australian sponsors to act as a financial guarantor for any outstanding public health costs incurred by the visa holder whilst in Australia, including hospital and aged care fees. This ensures taxpayers are not required to cover additional costs. Families are encouraged to get their sponsorship application in as soon as possible from 17 April. Approved sponsors will be able to lodge a visa application from 1 July 2019. Cost: Sponsors are required to be Australian citizens/permanent residents, have lived in Australia for four years and be in a position to cover the expenses of the sponsored party. A sponsorship fee of $420 needs to be submitted to the relevant department. Cost of a visa is at $5000 for a three-year period and $10,000 for five years. To repeat the process, another $10,000 would need to be submitted for the next fiveyear period. For more information about the visa, see https://immi. homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/ bringing-someone/bringing-partner-or-family/five-year-temporary-sponsored-parents-visa.
06 April 2019
20 April 2019