Around one in every eight people in Queanbeyan-Palerang is aged 65 years or older. Older people often say they feel forgotten or overlooked. They can face discrimination and barriers to participating fully in community life. And many older people struggle to pay for necessities.
Local councils have a role to play in supporting older people by recognising their contribution to society, acknowledging their particular needs and helping to meet them. Here we have summarised some of our policy ideas for QPRC that will support older people.
Local housing strategy
Local housing advocates say that single women aged over 55 are the fastest growing group in need of affordable housing in Queanbeyan. As people age, their housing needs change. Sometimes they need help to manage at home or to move into a smaller place. A local housing strategy aims to address current unmet need and plan for future needs.
New building standards to apply nationally will require homes to be adaptable. This will be particularly useful for older people who want to stay in their home as they age.
Requiring buildings to be more water and energy efficient and to use renewable energy will deliver savings for people renting and owning their home. Greens on QPRC will also pursue a scheme for low-moderate income earners to invest in solar power and / or hot water or heat pumps, as other councils have done.
Better transport services
Better public and community transport is particularly important for older people as they become less confident or able to drive. A lack of mobility can lead to social isolation, which contributes to poor mental and physical health. Getting to medical appointments can be a challenge, with most specialists based in Canberra and Goulburn. Greens on QPRC will work for better bus and community transport services as well improved frequency of the Canberra-Sydney passenger rail service.
More attention has been paid in recent years to addressing the barriers faced by older people and people living with a physical disability. Potential problems can be avoided by taking these into account when planning new developments or upgrading infrastructure. An example is the lack of footpaths in some part of our local government area. Greens on QPRC will involve older people and their representatives to ensure their needs are taken into account early in planning.
Supporting social activities
Finding affordable and accessible meeting spaces for older people’s community and activity groups can be difficult. Council staff acknowledged the high demand for community meeting spaces in a report to council in September. Greens on QPRC will undertake an audit of meeting spaces across the local government area to identify additional need and how to meet it.
There is much we can learn from older people, from practical skills of sewing, mending, repairing, gardening, cooking and preserving to resilience in the face of adversity. Greens on QPRC will work to create opportunities for older people to share their skills and knowledge with other people in our community. This can be part of implementing the QPRC community climate change action plan.
QPRC co-funds a scheme with the NSW Government providing discounted rates to eligible pensioners but for some years, the discount has not been indexed. This means the value of the discount is eroded over time. Local governments have asked the NSW Government to address this issue but no progress has been made to date. Greens on QPRC will work with other councils to seek a resolution of this matter.
Authorised by D. Hayden for The Greens NSW. Suite D, 263-279 Broadway, GLEBE NSW 2037.