State Budget focus on imporved protections for Queensland seniors

Eliminating elder abuse will be a key focus of the 2019-20 State Budget, with the Palaszczuk Government reaffirming its commitment to respond to, and prevent, the abuse of the state’s seniors through ongoing investment.

The continued focus on elder abuse forms part of the Palaszczuk Government’s response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the adequacy of existing financial protection for Queensland seniors and the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Minister for Seniors Coralee O’Rourke said funding in the State Budget would focus on delivering services to provide information, advice and support to seniors who at risk of, or are experiencing, elder abuse.

“We believe that Queensland seniors deserve to live their lives free from physical and emotional abuse, financial abuse and financial scams,” Mrs O’Rourke said.

“That’s why there is a $3.5 million allocation for Seniors Legal and Support Services in Toowoomba, Brisbane, Hervey Bay, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay, Gladstone, Bundaberg and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

“These services are delivering for seniors in these communities and making a real difference in responding to, and preventing, elder abuse in Queensland.

“The Seniors Legal and Support Services will also receive $400,000 for specialist financial protection services for seniors, including free independent information and advice on financial issues such as aged care contracts and family agreements.”

The Palaszczuk Government will continue support to UnitingCare to deliver services through the vital Elder Abuse Prevention Unit, including the Elder Abuse Helpline, by providing more than $750,000 in 2019-2020.

Mrs O’Rourke said the Elder Abuse Helpline continued to be an important first point of contact for seniors at risk of, or experiencing, elder abuse.

“Calls to the Elder Abuse Helpline increased by more than 17 per cent in 2017-18, with more than 1900 Queenslanders reporting elder abuse,” she said.

“Financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse reported to the Helpline.

“We also know that one of the most common forms of financial abuse of seniors is through scams.

“That’s why we’re continuing to commit $100,000 in this year’s State Budget to the Seniors Enquiry Line to enhance access to expertise and advice on consumer protection issues and scams.”

Cost of living pressures is another issue for Queensland seniors which will be addressed in the 2019-20 State Budget.

Mrs O’Rourke said the budget would deliver more than $280 million in concessions for Queensland seniors.

“Older Queenslanders will be able to access a range of concessions on their electricity, rates, water and gas bills,” she said.

“This is in addition to the cost of living and transport benefits and discounts that come with the range of cards available under the Queensland Seniors Card scheme.

“More than 900,000 cardholders are currently reaping the rewards of their life-long commitment to Queensland through this scheme.”

Creating age-friendly communities is also a focus of the State Budget, with $1.2 million in funding for the Advancing Queensland: an age-friendly community grants program in 2019-20.

“Through the first two rounds of this program, 29 organisations and local councils have delivered seniors-focused projects that are making their communities more age-friendly,” Mrs O’Rourke said.

“By investing in innovative age-friendly ideas from the state’s thriving communities, the Palaszczuk Government is able to deliver infrastructure and services for our growing state.

“Supporting seniors to participate and be included in their communities and providing discounts and rebates helps us support Queensland businesses and grow our economy for the future.”

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