Budget priorities for older Australians

We’re two weeks away from the release of the 2024-25 Federal Budget and advocacy group Council on the Ageing has given the government its pre-Budget submission outlining what it would like to see.

The past 12 months have seen the cost of living explode and inflation running rampant. The nation is crying out for relief from the Federal Budget later this month, but so far Treasurer Jim Chalmers has remained tight-lipped.

For many older Australians, particularly those on a fixed income, the current inflationary period has meant a severe drop in spending power and in turn, in their quality of life.

In its pre-Budget submission to parliament, seniors advocacy group Council on the Ageing (COTA) laid out its priorities for this year’s budget, and a key plank of its platform is addressing ageism.

What does ageism have to do with the budget?

Quite a lot, actually. With the cost of living rising rapidly, fixed incomes such as the pension can’t keep up. If older Australians want more money, they have to work for it.

But therein lies the problem, says COTA. The group says many older Australians face discrimination when looking for work, which in turn stops them from getting more income to support their pension.

“Ageism locks many older people – as young as 50 – out of the workforce, and some government policies treat them as a problem to be solved instead of an opportunity to be harnessed for the benefit of everyone,” COTA stated in its submission.

The group says workplace ageism is extremely prevalent but not very visible, and is calling on the government to take actions to reduce not just workplace ageism, but ageism in the provision of public services.

Introduce a seniors dental benefit scheme

Another proposal put forward by COTA was a dental benefits scheme for seniors. COTA says preventative health measures, such as dental checkups, help prevent the need for more serious (and expensive) procedures down the line.

Close to one-third of older adults have untreated tooth decay. An estimated 72,000 hospitalisations for dental conditions in 2017-18 could have been prevented with earlier treatment. The program would focus on those on low-incomes initially, before progressing to people receiving a home care package or people admitted to hospital.

“Close to one-third of older adults have untreated tooth decay,” says COTA.

“72,000 hospitalisations for dental conditions in 2017-18 could have been prevented with earlier treatment.”

Improve rent assistance

House prices and rents have skyrocketed in the past year, leaving older people who either rent or don’t own their home in a precarious position.

To address this COTA is suggesting the government increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 60 per cent in the budget.

“Older women are the fastest growing group at risk of homelessness and no one age bracket is immune to the problems the lack of social and affordable housing has created in Australia,” COTA says.

“In addition to work already underway through the National Homelessness and Housing Plan, and building on the 2023 budget, more direct support for all renters receiving income support payments is needed.”

“Providing safe, accessible, affordable housing is a basic government responsibility, but right now there isn’t enough because payments like Rent Assistance aren’t keeping pace with rent increases.”

What do you think needs to be included in the Federal Budget? Where are the financial pressure points in your life? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Should older Australians pay more tax?

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Increasing rent assistance would be of great help to a lot of pensioners but we rent a co-operative house and ALL of our rent relief is taken by the SA government so if ours is increased we will get no benefit and only the SA government will benefit. They will be rubbing their hands together all the way to the bank. Give us our rent assistance and don’t be so miserable Mr Malinouskas since you’re always skiting about how much you help us oldies.

  2. Won’t happen, but the pension needs to be increased to realistically reflect cost of living increases. When food, electricity, petrol and insurance all increase by close to 10%, how on earth can pensioners be expected to cope with only an increase of around 3%? And the price rises precede the adjustment by 6+ months. Thankfully, I am not struggling to live on just a pension. I don’t know how those who are can cope. The system needs to change so that adjustments are more regular and much more realistic.

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -