Some good news in the budget released last week is the focus on our ageing population and an emphasis on helping older Australians live independently at home for as long as possible. Disappointingly however, the budget is largely silent in relation to housing affordability – and the two issues are connected.
People remaining in the family home in their twilight years can often find the situation a burden as they struggle to look after a large property and keep up with maintenance. The Property Council has highlighted that the budget missed the opportunity to incentivise seniors to ‘right size’ their residence. The ‘flip side‘ of releasing existing family homes is that existing housing stock is available to young families who then benefit from an appropriately sized dwelling with a backyard.
“Edmiston Jones facilitate forums to encourage discussion regarding the needs of seniors in our community.”
The ‘ageing in place’ strategy requires a holistic approach that also addresses the potential social isolation arising from the elderly becoming housebound. Allowances in the budget to ‘trial‘ support strategies to help older Australians stay independent longer is a case of ‘too little – too late’. The industry peak bodies Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) both acknowledge that more needs to be done and the Government needs to take a longer term view.
LASA CEO, Sean Rooney, says, “the Budget does not provide the system settings and the funding levels to meet the growing demand and provide the ‘fit for purpose’ aged care system Australia needs.” Rooney notes that the situation is even more serious a rural and regional context where access to staff and higher costs further compound the situation.
Steven’s recent blog discussed the challenge of providing housing for seniors in regional Australia. We believe that, in country areas where the strength of community can be leveraged, viable options need to be explored.