Crisis for over 55s “only going to get worse”

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Being able to pay for a roof over your head shouldn’t come at the expense of feeding yourself or being able to buy medication you need to stay alive, and yet that is the situation in which thousands of older Australians find themselves.

YourLifeChoices research shows that of the 5561 who responded to the Retirement Affordability Index 2017-18 survey, more than 53 per cent of those on the Age Pension often run out of money before their next payment.

Of the 3339 homeowners who took part, just over 54 per cent say they wouldn’t be able to meet weekly expenses if they didn’t own their home.

Of those who rent, many are left to choose between food in their mouths, freezing through winter or foregoing important medication in order to pay rent. Some simply won’t be able to afford to do so for much longer.

Academics and housing providers warn that homelessness is on the rise, particularly for those aged 55 and over.

On the heel of this warning, and with projections that the nation’s older population will double in coming decades, comes the call for more money to be injected into affordable housing for the elderly.

A new report to be launched today by Senator Doug Cameron will call on policymakers to urgently address the problem.

At last count, there were 18,625 homeless people aged over 55, but there could be more, as the Census only takes responses from those with a fixed address.

Renters aged over 65 are struggling to make ends meet, many paying more than 30 per cent of their income on accommodation costs, an increase of 42 per cent in the past five years. In some cases, rent can take up to 70 per cent of an older person’s income.

“This situation is only going to get worse,” warned Debbie Faulkner, the deputy director of the centre for housing, urban and regional planning at the University of Adelaide.

“They tend to pay their rent first and go without their health needs, their pharmaceutical needs or even food.”

And these are the ‘lucky’ ones who still have a roof over their heads.

Brian Lipmann, who founded a non-profit organisation that helps disadvantaged older Australians, says the homelessness situation is getting worse.

In the 30 years since he opened the Wintringham Specialist Aged Care Centre, which provides housing for around 1800 people aged over 50 on any given night, he says evidence of elderly homelessness has never been so bad.

“We now have 1900 people on our waiting list,” said Mr Lipmann.

“A lot of those people have never had anything to do with homelessness before.”

Common causes of homelessness for older people include domestic violence, the death of a partner and elder abuse, he says.

People who can’t even afford to rent are joining billowing queues for public housing. In Victoria alone, around 4000 people are on the list, with that number growing weekly. According to Council of Homeless Persons chief Jenny Smith, around 23,000 people aged over 55 requested help from homeless services.

“Due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing, the best those people are offered is a short stay in a refuge, rooming house or caravan park,” said Ms Smith.

“This type of marginal accommodation has a devastating impact on the physical and mental health of the elderly.”

Aged-care homes are not an option either.

“The Age Pension isn’t enough to pay private rents and the current aged-care system is designed for those with property and assets,” said Mr Lipmann.

And contrary to stereotypes, most homeless older Australian have done the right thing all their lives – working, paying taxes, raising families – only to find themselves struggling at a time when they should be looking forward to a peaceful retirement.

“At the time of your life when you’re the frailest and sickest, to be faced with trying to find a feed or trying to find a place where you’re not going to be bashed or robbed or raped is terrifying,” he said.

Experts are calling for bipartisan support to help solve this crisis before it’s too late – if it’s not already.

Do you struggle to make ends meet? Do you know someone who does? Is owning a home pivotal to a manageable retirement?

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90 Comments

Total Comments: 90
  1. 0
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    Yes I’m in this situation where I’m paying $410 a week
    Out of the full aged pension I have some savings but how long they will last is anyone’s guess. The $132 f/n
    Rent ass is rediculous in this day and age. When average rents are $350 and above. If the government wanted to help those that don’t own a house and have to rent
    Then make the rent asst according to the rent not one price fits all. That would immediately take pressure of thousands of Australian pensioner who are renting we shouldn’t have to pay more than 30% of our pension for a roof over our heads .

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      Not a surprise to most pensioners or retirees Lou Lou.
      It is well known that the Australian pension system has been taken over vested interests. Whilst there are tax cuts for the wealthy, who have been going ahead at the rate of knots in the past 10 year, anybody who is not a high income earner is on the target list. Retirees probably on the top of the list.
      Pensions in comparable countries are higher than ours and the pension is not an entitlement in these countries. Our low life big end of town puppet government has made it thus here.
      Expect nothing from this lot other than the next attack if it is put back in. I am waiting for the family home to be brought into the assets test and death duty to return. That’s where this lot will end up….with more tax cuts to the wealthy playing international leap frog to justify the unjustifiable.
      Hope you survive. Vote accordingly and pass on the news so that the coming propaganda election campaign fails.

    • 0
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      Yeah Mick – very easy for a bloke with nothing, got a few of them around here wanting the house included in the assets test but not one of them has one. In my situation: I have to pay $2200 council fees and the same amount in body corporate money per year. The place is rated as minimum and if it was included in the test I would be forced to rent and the Govt would pay me the $132 per fortnight as mentioned above in rent assistance. How would that help?
      There are of course mansions where you would have a point, Mick. But when a modest dwelling is included you would shoot yourself in the foot. With death duties you would open up the good old children’s expectation of an inheritance and the kids certainly would not vote for them.
      Concerning overseas pensions they ARE an entitlement and not welfare, we paid in all our lives and we will get the pension. Also there is still the age of 65 not 67.
      Maybe a capital gains tax is needed on the family home when sold and if the Govt would allow the young buyer a tax deduction on all the rates, body corps, insurances, improvements and repairs like it is the case overseas it would be fully justified. Mick, I lived in both places and I do not pick the raisons out of the cake, there are differences.
      One could possibly prevent superannuants cashing out their money before turning 67 and possibly force them to take an annuity so preventing them ever getting an age pension. See how that would go down in your Socialist Paradise. I had a fear of that happening years ago and spent my super well before reaching 65. There is not a continent where I have not been.
      Your ideas will encourage more people to do what I have done and that does not help the country – but I do have good memories.

    • 0
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      Lou Lou, I synpathize, but why are you in this situation? I know some end up this way through no fault of their own, but we have all had 40+ years to plan for retirement.
      I worked my guts out and went without things most considered absolute necessities to pay off a home. Now I would be better off renting! Why the hell should renters get big handouts while people who worked their butts off and went without to provide for themselves are bashed and beaten? Like Mick, I pay huge rates and water bills, big home insurance costs, significant maintenance costs – then lose out in pension entitlements and rent assistance. Ultimately, it costs many homeowners more than $500 a week to live in their own home.

      More handouts to renters is NOT the answer, and NO NO NO NO NO rent assistance should NEVER be relative to the rent you pay, because that lets unconscionable people choose expensive accommodation at taxpayer expense.

      We need more government housing. We need better assessment of why people need assistance so that it goes to the deserving first, not the irresponsible or selfish. We DO NOT need to further disadvantage people for doing what’s good for the nation and reward irresponsible lifestyle choices. (Not saying you were irresponsible or are undeserving, Lou Lou. I don’t know your situation. But I do know hundreds who SHOULD own a home but were just too selfish to make the sacrifices required, and now want fat handouts to compensate for their own failure.)

  2. 0
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    I’m in an old over-55s block where demolition is planned – supposedly 2019. The rent is still good, because it’s so old. I can’t imagine being able to afford to stay living in my area when we eventually get our notices to vacate. I’m researching outer areas, but even the glamorised sheds in people’s backyards are expensive.

  3. 0
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    I pay 680.00 per fortnight rent I get 1000.00 I practically live on egg on toast while caring for a daughter with disabilities. yeah we get the disab pension but that doesn’t go far with all the disability /health expenses ah to live in the lucky country ( where ever that is )

  4. 0
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    Owning a home is pivotal to surviving living on a pension. Whether that be a small unit or house. Not all pensioners are created equal , divorce , illness retrenchment, there are many reasons why people are in this situation. They are good people , but in bad positions. I see judgement all the time against people not preparing for retirement. Well that’s how it is, (Take off your blinkers) not all can ever afford a home, don’t have family assistance, don’t get that perfect job the list goes on. With private rents being so high, that fact is people need assistance. People have pride and don’t ask for much , a safe place to sleep and a daily meal. Well alot dont have this. I go to a food bank once a month and I hear this story over and over . Renters and pensioners with no funds can’t survive. I pay a mortgage and I am broke before the next pension day to, I couldn’t live if I had to pay rent .

  5. 0
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    How come you never see any homeless so called refugees. If they did exist I’m sure it would be all over the news.

    • 0
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      Good point Ginty! There would be a real fracas from the do gooders if that happened, but nobody gives a rats for the likes of you and I…

    • 0
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      That is so right, Ginty. We seem to have a government that panders to the “let ’em all in” brigade and bends over backwards to convince the world that we’re the big hearted Aussies.
      When we have so many homeless it’s no shame to admit we have a problem. We’re full to saturation point. We don’t have enough full time jobs for everyone to be able to pay rent or mortgage so it’s no use being big hearted. When we can’t house and give jobs to our own it’s not clever or compassionate to have an open door policy.

    • 0
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      Now you are talking.

      We need a restriction on any form of public housing that requires minimum of 5 years as a tax paying citizen, or minimum 10 consecutive years residence to be eligible for any form of housing assistance.

      It is disgusting that do-gooders want to help foreigners more than our own.

    • 0
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      Maybe because they are staying with family Ginty, or are lucky to have been provided Government housing that they share with 10 others.
      The other problem with pubic housing is that there are far too many people who can now afford to live in other rental properties and are allowed to still stay in their public housing house at very low rents no mater how much they earn. This is what needs to change, those who have public housing need to provide income reports to see if they still qualify.This will free up housing for those who really need it.

    • 0
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      Yes music veg. People do need to live where they can afford the rents and large public houses should be available for families with single tenants catered for in apartments or hostels.

      Moving is a hassle. Perhaps some help with that could be provided.

      I still think that buying some motels that are unviable would be a good start in providing emergency housing.

      It seems inflation has gotten away in some areas and the Government is not able to deal with it at all.

      What happened to all the money from the sale of those public housing properties around Sydney Harbour?

    • 0
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      Probably shunted into the Future Fund, Rae, like the sale of Telstra, to pay for politition’s pensions

    • 0
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      Re sale of public housing Sydney.
      The governmet there has built brand new apartment buildings and the people they moved out of the old buildings have been rehoused and from what I have seen on TV they are very happy with their new lodgings. Pru Goward was on tv not that long back and I saw some of the new tenants interviewed.

  6. 0
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    I have been trying and failing for 10 years to get people to join their efforts together on this.

    The best idea I have come up with (but governments won’t listen) is that government should introduce a levy on big business. Combine that with government grants and provide money for low cost housing in large numbers. This would be a permanent way of providing homes for both elderly and low income families.

    The only way I think we will get government to listen is if we form large numbers of people supporting the idea. This is where I have a problem – we Aussies just have not bothered to put our names to this worthy cause. Where are you when we need you?

    • 0
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      I’m here. Unfortunately government get more for themselves as individuals by giving tax breaks, etc they’ll get nothing if they build housing for people with no money. It’s like I say, don’t let millionaires into positions of power, they will only make policies which boost their own bank balances.

    • 0
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      You forget Brian: the government has made TAX CUTS rather than a levy.

    • 0
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      Yet more demands on businesses BrianP? Keep it up and there will be no ‘big business’ to pay for anything!

    • 0
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      Would that be so bad, KSS? Big business killed the small businesses and created unemployment and high prices. Perhaps if big business died we’d get all our high street shops opened and run by individuals instead of chains. Tradies working for themselves instead of someone else.

    • 0
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      Yes Big Business, mostly foreign owned, is a problem now. The balance of trade is looking very shaky and small businesses can’t compete on price. It’s been a price war going on a long time now. Look at petrol and diesel prices. That’s what happens when all the small local owners are forced out of business.

    • 0
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      BrianP, you are correct that big business should pay more but not just for this reason. As GrayComputing has noted in a separate comment, if Big Business paid their fair share, we could even triple the pensions paid here and also pay it as Universal Pension without tests and without Centrelink admin / abuse. We badly need a Minimum Tax system here to force companies to pay their minimum fair share.

      Have a look at the article below which compares our Corporate taxes with that in other countries, and also note that they pay an effective tax rate of just 10.4% here!!!
      http://www.abc.
      et.au/news/2017-10-16/verrender-corporate-tax-cuts-who-wins/9052600

    • 0
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      Thanks for the link George, a really interesting and informing article. I can see how the average Australian can get confused with the Government saying we need to lower corporate tax but the figures speak for themselves. When they are actually only paying 10% and only on the amount they feel like paying after they lowered their profit margins and put their money in overseas tax havens. They are truly ripping off Australians after all they use all the infrastructure that is available and paid by tax payers. More people need to read this article.

    • 0
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      Goodness, don’t try to tell Raphael (now calling himself ”Anonymous”) or OG that corporate tax is actually 10.4%! They are screaming that it has to be slashed to 15% immediately. Perhaps it should be RAISED to 15% across the board, with no scope for avoidance or reduction? That might help the economy.

  7. 0
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    I am in a situation where I own a house and am looking for a trustworthy roommate in her 50s. Do people in their 50s use realestate.com.au to look for flatmates? If not, where could I post it so that people would see? I think we could do something ourselves to at least reduce the problem – if we just share information.

    • 0
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      There are share sites. Google ‘flatmates’.

    • 0
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      Absolutely great idea. But the thought of it not working and having problems because you pick the wrong roommate is a real worry. But on the bright side, there are lots of over 50’s that need a roof over their head and would be fantastic roommates. I wish you lots of luck and hope it turns out to be very successful.

    • 0
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      Maybe the 50 plus senior citizens clubs would be the way to go KerryJ we have one in the neighborhood, easier to check bona fides than do searching on line. Make sure they have their share of contribution not just excuses. I have been there.

    • 0
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      Make sure you have a legal tenant agreement drawn up and signed. I’d try a 3 month trial with option to renew after that for 6 month periods just to cover yourself and your property. Don’t forget to sort the insurance out either.

      I grew up in a Boarding House mum ran in Sydney and all the tenants bar one were terrific. That bad one was got rid of very quickly as the lease had an out clause in it.

    • 0
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      Don’t know why a group of females or males for that matter band together and build a home with a central lounge area and kitchen and their bedrooms leading off.

      A group of ladies in Perth have done this and it is working very well for them.

      You could have a legally binding document drawn up in the event of death.

  8. 0
    0

    I survived on the aged pension and a small superannuation pull down each year, always try to make it less than what it has earned, just to try and maintain some future support. But it is not enough, so I became an expat in Asia and not really pleased about that. As I am a proud Australian.
    But perhaps I am being foolish, because the Government sure as hell does not care about me and all the others that struggle from week to week. Where is the credits for being a natural born Aussie as opposed to a person who migrates somehow to Australia and immediately gets it all laid at their feet?
    Did I do something wrong along the way or should I have rowed a boat onto Sydney Harbour and held up a refugee sign. Why are we not caring for Australians first?

    • 0
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      That’s a false dichotomy. People are people. We could do both, but our government’s priorities are not on ensuring vulnerable people have the services they need. Australians first? What rubbish!

    • 0
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      Mogo, unless you are Aboriginal then you are also a migrant or offspring of one. I don’t think we can be proud of how we have treated people seeking asylum. Just look at the children behind fences on Nauru. Compared to European countries we have been abominable at rescuing war torn refugees.
      As for the present problem with poor people in Australia and housing that is a separate issue and requires the building of appropriate housing that is affordable.
      There is no us and them only we!

    • 0
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      Kathleen,

      There are around 25 million refugees around the world from war torn countries looking for somewhere to live. At what point do we draw the line ? When do we say we cannot take anymore ? The queue is long and we currently allow around 180,000 refuges in every year. Already this is causing problems which are well documented. And if you want to know what happened in Europe I suggest you read a book entitled “The Strange death of Europe” by Douglas Murry.

    • 0
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      Kathleen, there are no children behind fences. And my ancestor had no choice, thanks. People who’ve been here all their lives, especially those who’ve worked all their lives and for various reasons find themselves short of a dollar in their latter years should take precedence.

    • 0
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      inextratime, we do not let 180,000 refuges in every year these are LEGAL paying immigrants, and the only political party I know that wants to reduce this to 70,000 is the Sustainable Australia Party.

    • 0
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      This is all propaganda. Immigrants are not supported above Australians at all. Refugees arrive in small numbers and are supported as they are offered refuge. Even on Nauru and Manus they have shelter and food.

      Australians in crisis can access emergency assistance although it needs to be increased as does everything due to the huge population growth going on that the Governments seem unable to deal with adequately.

      Perhaps a blind faith in the private business model is proving to be a failure for our Government.

      The Public Service needs sorting out and the IPA ring ins given the boot in my opinion. Blind ideology can destroy Nations.

    • 0
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      The elephant in the room is the huge rents charged to people in the big cities (see my reply to jonboy near the bottom of the page).

      But what can be done? Move to the country? Nice idea but there are no services like public transport here & a shortage of doctors & other services.

      Make migrants move to the country for the first 5 years? They would create demand & therefore more jobs, but in the meantime, the pay is rubbish! I know someone who is the Manager of a large retail chain store in a local shopping centre – she’s paid the minimum adult wage! At least she gets to choose her staff, the only payoff. So no-one wants to go to the country because there are very few jobs, with terrible pay anyway.

  9. 0
    0

    Firstly, I wouldn’t believe anything that the moaning glaswegian, Senator Doug Cameron,puts his name to.

    Secondly, the age pension is a safety net not a life style payment – a distinction apparently missed by those referenced in the article above.

    As one who pays the taxes from which the pension comes, I am prepared to support the former but certainly not the latter.

    • 0
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      Firstly, David Cameron didn’t do the research nor is he the only person or source quoted in the article.

      Secondly, the vast majority of people seeking the age pension paid their taxes in turn. They aren’t bludgers.

      If you resent ensuring vulnerable people are decently looked after – you’re not a justice warrior.

    • 0
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      You’re not making sense, Not a Bludger. If the pension is a safety net why are people going hungry on it and/or homeless? Surely that means it’snot even near to being a safety net.

    • 0
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      Most of us do not want to be Justice Warriors, also we do not want economic refugees coming here to sit on welfare. A week on welfare here is better than a full month’s work where a lot come from. As well for some reason they are never homeless like we have that are born here.

    • 0
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      Cowboy they live dozens to a house and work for a pittance to get ahead. Australians don’t or won’t live like this.

      This was deliberate policy. No point crying after the event.

      We have been living beyond our means for decades and we chose this path when most voted Fraser back in the 70s. It’s far too late to change that now.

    • 0
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      The aged pension is an entitlement IF you pass the income and assets test…it is not available to all.

    • 0
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      The elephant in the room is the huge rents charged to people in the big cities (see my reply to jonboy near the bottom of the page).

      But what can be done? Move to the country? Nice idea but there are no services like public transport here & a shortage of doctors & other services.

      Make migrants move to the country for the first 5 years? They would create demand & therefore more jobs, but in the meantime, the pay is rubbish! I know someone who is the Manager of a large retail chain store in a local shopping centre – she’s paid the minimum adult wage! At least she gets to choose her staff, the only payoff. So no-one wants to go to the country because there are very few jobs, with terrible pay anyway.

  10. 0
    0

    The government just wants us to die…………………………

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