Crusading for dignity in retirement

YourLifeChoices publisher Kaye Fallick has long been campaigning for a dignified retirement for all. While she is usually the one asking the questions – of governments and organisations able to make a difference in retirees’ lives – we thought it was time for her to answer a few.

You’re a passionate advocate for retirees and pre-retirees. How did that come about?
David (husband and fellow director) decided he wanted to start his own publishing business when our first baby was on the way. I was the ‘little woman’ who was asked to ‘do the books’ a few hours a week. And then I gained an editing and writing qualification and started writing for our magazines.

And then we purchased a title ‘Your Retirement’, that was so old-fashioned and patronising and dismissive of older people. First, I got mad and then my way of getting even was to learn a lot about retirement. And the more I learnt, the more determined I became to help those who don’t have a lot in the way of savings to live a dignified and fun life in retirement.

Which means I have to stay up-to-date with all the policy, entitlements and specific detail.

But I simply love it.

And now I get to work with a lot of great people who share my passion and work just as hard to help everyone have an affordable retirement.

If you found a magic lamp and the genie said you had three wishes, what would they be?
A genuine welcome for people who come to Australia’s refugees. I mean really genuine, warm and accommodating.

A fairer share of the pie for all Australians – I really do feel that there are far too many tax loopholes and concessions for those with a lot, and not much support for those with the least.

To be a genuinely supportive friend and relative to the people in my life.

Apart from your work, what else are you passionate about?
People who know me would say that my family comes first, second and third, and that’s entirely true. I am blessed to have the best mum, husband and daughters in the world. And my dad Jack was a wonderful man.

I also love to travel, read, see movies and plays, garden, and walk on the beach with our beautiful border collie Ebony. And having a chat to people I meet along the way really makes my day, regardless of where I am.

Which six people would you have to dinner and why?
Not sure if this is a ‘dead or alive’ question, but assuming I can include people no longer with us, here goes:

Coco Chanel – killer style queen. I would simply sit and stare at her. Definitely a woman ahead of her time.

Germaine Greer – adored her book, The Female Eunuch. It literally changed my life. But now I find her rather narky, so I would enjoy the chance to see if that’s the case or not.

Barak Obama – what an intelligent, stylish, compassionate world leader.

Michelle Obama – ditto as the wife of the former POTUS. What grace and intelligence and inclusiveness she brought to the White House.

Nelson Mandela – a man who did the hard yards, literally, for nearly three decades, then rose to the presidency of South Africa, and found it in his heart to forgive.

My mum Betty, as I am sure she would enjoy the occasion and add a lot of homespun wisdom to the conversation. She would keep us all grounded, I am sure.

What would you cook?
Mmm. I have a couple of ‘go-to’ dishes that our daughters, SJ and Lucy, have been rude enough to notice I cook rather a lot. But why not? So Spicy Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Green Olives, served with Spinach and Lemon Rice. Dessert is super quick and easy – Eton Mess – love it! Just smash some meringues, combine with raspberries, ice-cream, cream, dark chocolate sauce and ‘Flake’ sprinkles – yum!

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Last night watching the silly man-boys on The Front Bar (a show about AFL footy for our rugby loving members to the north). So Mick Molloy, Andy Maher and Sam Pang being silly about AFL footy. They simply crack me up. And I have a very secret crush on Sam. Seriously.

And cry?
On 7.30 on the ABC recently, they played a tribute to a teacher who had literally changed the lives of the young people she has taught over the years. In particular, one young man she adopted and who is now overseas for his higher education, but came back to celebrate her achievements in education and her retirement from the role of school principal. What a woman – and what a legacy.

What are your views on:

Assisted dying
I think this is a very tough area for legislators. In principle, I agree that those who are so compromised by ill-health and pain that their lives are not, in their opinion, worth living, should be allowed to make a decision to call it a day. But the number of checks and balances required to ensure this is all about the patient’s decision and not unduly influenced by relatives or others who don’t have these patients’ best interests at heart is really, really difficult. I suspect the Victorian Government legislation is close to as good as we will get at the moment, but that, of course, remains to be seen. I do believe the 104-year-old Perth doctor, David Goodall, showed great courage and independence in his decision to go to Europe to end his life when he thought the time was right.

Universal Age Pension
I totally believe that this is the best way forward. And that it is entirely affordable, as witness the case put forward in the December 2017 Retirement Affordability Index™. The beauty of such a system is that you can remove so much of the bureaucracy and also allow people to then either stay at work or have a go at working at an older age and as it suits them, while benefitting the country and without threatening their pension entitlements. New Zealand does this super well.

Ageism – does it exist and are attitudes charging?
Yes, it runs far and wide in our community. We seem to think older Australians are timid, lacklustre and fearful. Or worse still, greedy, entitled people who take more than they give. Where did this come from? I guess a lot of people are really frightened of ageing as they believe it means a loss of power and independence. But it doesn’t have to. Most of the really interesting people I meet have been around the block a few times. So I think it is up to all of us, individually, to take on the fight against ageism, step by step, word by word, deed by deed.

You’ve written two books – Get A New Life and What Next: Your career change companion.  What would your next book be, time permitting?
I’ve already started. It’s the story of my dad’s life, starting in Broken Hill, then as a young lad in Birdsville, and then roaming the cattle stations of northern Queensland. It’s about hardship, the redeeming power of love and the real star of the show is the harsh, but supremely beautiful Channel Country at the ‘corner’ of South Australia, NSW andQueensland. Now all I need is the time and concentration to write those next 60,000 words!

What was the last book you read/the last movie you saw at the cinema?
The most recent book was Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. I read it about 20 years ago and adored it. And I’m about to visit the Greek island of Cephalonia where it is set, so I decided I would read it as a primer. It really is one of the most splendid, but frustrating, love stories of all time. Don’t tell Sam Pang, but I also have a crush on Captain Antonio Corelli!

Will you ever retire?
Yes and no.

Yes, I will stop working such long hours.

No, I won’t stop ‘working’, but I will cherish the opportunity to do more volunteer work at some stage.

Related articles:
Caring for Dad: a rollercoaster ride
Lessons learnt on a long journey
First jobs: the good, bad and ugly

Written by Janelle Ward

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