Kaye’s Christmas wish list

Regardless of faith or circumstance, the Christmas break offers us a chance to reflect on the past year. Some will celebrate achievements and happy times. Others may have suffered loss and hardship, and will no doubt hope for a better time in 2018.

At YourLifeChoices, we are privileged to receive emails, comments and posts from our many members. Such feedback never fails to enlighten us and help us to support our proud claim to have our fingers well and truly on the retiree pulse.

Your feedback tells us there are many things that challenge you, many that delight you and some things that cause you deep concern. Here, without further ado, is my retirement Christmas wish list to make this life stage a happy and productive time for all.

Rent assistance
About 18 per cent of older Australians belong to the retirement tribe we call ‘cash-strapped’, as they juggle paying rent while living on the Age Pension. The current rental supplement is $133 for singles and $125.40 for couples each fortnight. Given the overheated housing market and flow-on increases in rent, this is simply not enough to live a dignified life.

Solution: An increase in rent assistance in the 2018 Budget – an extra $50 for singles and $40 for couples.

A less ageist workplace
Been out of work and tried to get a job again? If you are aged 55 or over, it could take more than a year – and this may have nothing to do with your skills or experience. It may simply be that you are older than other applicants and therefore deemed to be less capable. The sad fact is that older workers have battled the scourge of ageism for decades now and little progress has been made.

Solution: A Federal Government advertising campaign on the value that older workers represent.

Aussie phone support
Yes, bring back Australian-based call centres, we say. Are you also tired of being put on hold by some perky individual who seems to have no clue whatsoever about the product or service you are buying, returning or enquiring about? Some companies have seen the light and are supporting their clients with Australian-based call centres, available seven days a week. Think APIA, Qantas and some Telstra services. 

Solution: We think this trend should spread. People who are trained locally/nationally solve problems more quickly and do more for brand awareness than any number of advertising campaigns.

Old-fashioned neighbourliness
Now I’m really sounding old school! Remember when you knew everyone in your street?  Those days may seem far away, but it’s up to us to bring them back. With 25 per cent of households inhabited by singles, we should ensure that those living alone are not becoming isolated.

Solution: Let’s start a ‘hello’ movement in our streets by deliberately seeking out our neighbours and saying hi. Hot summer days and holidays are exactly the time when companionship and care may become critical.

Courtesy
And while we’re on the old-fashioned bandwagon, let’s throw a bucket of courtesy into the mix. Life can get busy, but surely there’s always time for a please, thank you and how are you? And, of course, the wave. Yes, when someone lets you into a stream of traffic, don’t just drive on, acknowledge the kindness.

Solution: Make sure your conversation always starts with a genuine inquiry about your companion’s wellbeing. You may be surprised how much warmer the exchange can be.

Thinking time
I read somewhere that Bill Gates has a thinking week every year, when he removes himself from the daily grind to a retreat, with books. Here he reads and thinks big ideas. A personal reboot, if you like. Now it’s true, Mr Gates is wealthy beyond most people’s dreams. But where is it written that we can’t all emulate this brilliant idea? A retreat might be a caravan park or a friend’s spare room. And there are libraries full of books on wisdom just waiting to be read.

Solution: Plan your thinking week in 2018 now and book it in.

Don’t be captive to social media 
Do you waste too much time sharing stupid things other people have posted? And maybe feeling less popular than your wildly social media addicted friends? What a serious waste of time, when there is so much ‘real life’ fun to be had.

Solution: At least once a week have a social-media free day. And if you enjoy the extra time, extend the ban.

Helping the homeless
There are many reasons why people become homeless – most of them have nothing to do with the ‘type’ of person they are. Almost none of us would ever choose to sleep rough, yet this is the case for some 105,000 Australians every night. Remembering that we are all one heartbeat away from sleeping on the streets is very sobering.

Solution: Don’t just walk past, try to engage with the people you see on the streets, and give to recognised charities that work to help them find secure accommodation.

Simplify the rules
Retirement income is a massively complex topic. Even the experts can have a hard time understanding and explaining the rules of the Age Pension, superannuation, assets, deeming rates and reverse mortgages. The team at YourLifeChoices works hard to help you stay abreast of what you need to know, but the rules are not getting any simpler.

Solution: Let’s lobby our local MPs for a Universal Age Pension (Retirement income system broken). In one fell swoop, it would simplify the entire system. And be a great deal fairer.

Welcome strangers  
The majority of refugees from other nations have been forced to flee due to religious or political persecution or war. According to international rules (United Nations Human Rights Commission), they are perfectly entitled to seek refuge. Yet those who enter Australia are often vilified and punished for having the temerity to seek a better life. We were better in the past, welcoming refugees from Europe after World War II and from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon. So why, now, do we think it is okay to punish people for their circumstances?

Solution: Ask yourself how you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes, then act accordingly.

Wishing all our members and website visitors a safe and happy Christmas.

Now it’s over to you for your thoughts. What would you like to see in 2018 to make life in retirement friendlier, more comfortable, kinder or more affordable? Our new newsroom editor Janelle will choose her top five and award the writers with a DVD – so don’t hold back – tell us what you think!

Related articles:
Centrelink to outsource call centre
Over 55 and homeless
Five ways to be generous

Written by Kaye Fallick

RELATED LINKS

Centrelink to outsource call centre to a UK-owned company

Centrelink announced it will outsource its strained call centre to a foreign company.

Older people to be made priority one cases for public housing

Seven thousand over 55s about to be moved to the top of the wait list for public housing.

Five ways to feel generous

With these five acts of generosity, you don't need to be rich to share the wealth.



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