Sally Jones is the National Convenor of Older Women's Network Australia (OWNA). She was born in England and emigrated to Australia in 1976. She has lived and worked in several States and now lives in Queensland. She left school shortly after her 15th birthday and was educated at the University of Life. Her work history is varied including managerial levels in the hospitality industry. She has been a part of OWNA for 14 years. She runs the Gold Coast Branch, and is Qld. State President since December 2009. Sally Jones sits on an alliance known as the Senior Sector Round Table with seven other seniors organisations. She is a single age pensioner (widow) and she has no allegiance to any political party.
Commentaries by Sally Jones:
18 August 2010
I believe that our journey through life, the teachings of our elders, their circumstances and influence, our education in schools, church, employment, marriage and parenthood, build the person that we are today. In this belief I look at the major Party Leaders and their experiences that have influenced and moulded them. One does not suddenly become a leader. One is not born a leader. With this in mind which leader will be the better Prime minister. Who can lead their party to do the very best for this country in this World crisis that exists today.
In the eleven years that the Liberals were in power they scrimped and saved and put us into surplus, saving money by not funding Health, Housing, Education and Pensions, to name but a few.
That surplus was put to good use to save Australia when the world crisis hit. The rest of the world is still in crisis we are not, but we could be if the wrong party wins this election. Some of the Labor Party 07 promises were not able to be completed because of the world crisis.
Many women I have spoken to are confused, women who have never been swinging voters, this time, are finding no real direction. Many women would like to see a woman in the top job but only as a strong leader.
Technology is moving very fast is we need plans for the very best we can produce from the current knowledge gathered from around the world. Not lag behind the rest of the.
To express this in women’s terms; You can’t get the recipe right if you don’t have all the ingredients, or you can’t knit a jumper to the right size without the correct amount of wool. Let’s have it right in the first place. What we all want is vision into the future not just next year.
Many Liberal Party policy items appear to be stop gap solutions, doing things by halves usually results in projects becoming redundant before they are activated.
Our Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren deserve the best education. We need the best teachers rewarded by the right pay packet.
The construction and engineering industries must attract apprentices by paying them a better training wage.
All types of hospitals; General, Mental, Maternity, Respite and Transitional Care need many more doctors, dentists and career nurses, better wages for health workers is paramount.
The ageing population has been addressed by a promise of beds. Where are we to house these beds? The private sector has slowed down building Nursing homes and retirement villages. Are the aged to be put out to grass, literally, in rows of tents?
Refugees after assessment will need housing, jobs and health care, their children need schools, does it matter where they are assessed?
Religion, Sexual persuasion, Country of origin or hair color have never been a political pre-requisite for election, why is so much time being wasted on inconsequential argument?
4 August 2010
Both major parties have declared that the next three years will be a time of little spending or hand outs. We presume by this that for the next three years there will be no pension increases to offset the higher price of electricity, water, food, medicines, and necessary items needed by older people and the disabled to stay alive in a healthy state.
There are reports that large cut backs are coming to health and other areas should we vote for Mr. Abbott. One should remember that the Previous Liberal Government, were not very generous with pensions and also cut back on oral health and education to retrain the long term unemployed. Who knows how far the current Liberal Party will wish to denude services to the most vulnerable Australians.
Meanwhile older people have not had much detail about our future should we vote Labor.
The grey vote in this election could be very crucial if we are to believe the statistics produced on the ageing population. In fact the mere mention of the ageing population seems to make all party politicians rapidly change the topic. Much has been published about the population explosion by births and ‘new arrivals’ but nothing on the offset of numbers by deaths. If we are to presume, by this, that we are expected to live forever in a state of wellness, this next government needs to address the provision for housing, health and care us as we age.
Mr. Abbott’s promise about beds is fine, but where are the beds to be and where is the staff coming from? Beds have been promised before not enough not seen not staffed.
Early intervention and HACC is the key to home services, not mythical beds in understaffed hospitals and homes.
It appears that all politicians have this “I’m all right Jack” attitude with regard to ageing, based on the fact that they will retire with a golden handshake, travel freebies, open doors to company chairmanships (regardless of their age), and biographic book deals.
Why should they worry about the poor people? Well the poor people vote too and there are more of them.
This week the UK Government passed a new law that protects older working people from being sacked when reaching the age of 65. This will prevent discrimination of older employees who wish to continue working as long as they are able. There has been no mention of a similar status for older Australians.
While there has been slamming of the insulation, solar and school hall expenditure and the talk of stopping this funding, I would like to remind everyone that many, many, older people are getting through this winter with lower fuel bills and saving energy in the process, thanks to these installations. Many school children are enjoying having extra facilities. The building industry generally has escalations of costs and many accidents also.
We demand better positive policy on Ageing.
18 July 2010
Future Financial Security
The Date for the election has now been announced just three weeks from Julia Gillard taking over as Prime Minister.
We will only now finally be made aware of the policies we have been waiting for, as we are bombarded by the media with the inevitable rhetoric from the, so called, experts in political understanding.
To quote “How can I compare thee…..”, Ms. Gillard has a propensity to relate to her family upbringing and devotion to this country for which I admire her. Experience of the ‘University of Life” plays an important part in cementing our values, even if they are subconscious. From what I have read about her she has had a positive road that she has travelled to reach this point. A commitment to the education of our descendents, an orderly sense of administration, organized and committed to her future. Does the opposition have this?
Mr. Abbott has changed his direction in life, his faith and opinions on many subjects.
To quote Peter Costello, “Tony always saw himself as something of a romantic figure, a Don Quixote ready to take on lost causes and fight for great principles. Never one to be held back by financial consequences of decisions, he had grandiose plans for public expenditure”. What we ask is has he changed? And will he change himself again?
One item, that is being quoted, is the rise in the cost of living over the past three years. Are we honestly expected to believe that, in this World monetary crisis, the cost of living would not have risen if we had not had a change of government in 2007? Would Australia have been totally uninvolved and immune? Of course not, our economy is governed by our International trade and the Reserve Bank.
We have an Ageing population that needs multitudes of future children to have a magnificent education system, growing up to work and pay taxes. This will then ensure that we have an affordable, efficient public health system, plenty of public nursing homes, plenty of public housing and an understanding of why they have it.
My major policy wish is to have a free Medicare system that actually embraces the whole of body wellness, ie: that is one that includes teeth, ears and physio.
4 July 2010
The Older Women’s Network congratulate Julia Gillard on her rise to Prime Minister and will be interested see what new policies she will put in place.
I will quote part of a piece from The Sunday Telegraph by Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union: “What matters is the type of country we want Australia to be and the aspirations we hold for our future. The questions we need to ask our leaders to focus on are how to save the Aussie fair go by protecting our rights at work and how we can make our economy stronger and our people healthier”.
With that in mind especially the “Aussie fair go” I look at the relationship with immigration, workers and housing.
The effect of the next immigration policy on housing is of great interest to the thousands of Australians who have been on public housing waiting lists for many years. Pensioners and low income workers who just manage to scrape through from one week to another in order to pay their increasing private rental rates. Whilst everyone concedes the need and desperation of families who have risked everything to escape war torn areas to come to this wonderful free country, in impossibly cramped leaky boats, to provide them with a safe roof over their heads. The fact remains that to many who are not technically homeless it can be seen a queue jumping when there is insufficient public housing anywhere in this country.
Labor is looking at a Population Policy with a two speed immigration and two speed economy (what ever that might really mean). To place skilled immigrants where workers are needed is idealistic, if there was housing in that area there would be workers a plenty living in them. Likewise placing them in an area where there is plenty of housing is totally non existent.
A Federal Government investigation into nursing home conditions is way overdue and has been prompted by a situation in a Sydney nursing home, where it is claimed by her family, that an elderly lady was physically abused and her medical needs were ignored and could have died. They have now found another nursing home at a cost of half a million dollars. However not everyone has $500,000 for a bond. What hope is there for the asset poor.
It has been noticed that quite a few politicians have been quitting their Parties to join the Australian Greens. With the Green Party policies firmly in place (except how they will be funded) it will be interesting as the election nears to see which side they put their allegiance with.
18 June 2010
I have just received through my snail mail box a leaflet entitled, “Support real action” Tony Abbott and the Liberal team’s Six Point Plan.
1. Reducing Debt – To safeguard future generations.
2. Encouraging Small Business - To create real jobs and prosperity.
3. Protecting the Environment – And not just a big new tax.
4. Stop illegal immigration – To protect our borders and keep Australia strong.
5. Protecting Private Health – To ease the burden on the public system.
6. Securing Water – To protect our future and return the bush to prosperity.
It instructed me to go to the web site for more information, how wonderful, finally some policies. Alas how wrong can you be. On investigating the Liberal Party web site it simply invites the public to tell the Party what the public want them to do.
A Political Party who the public has voted into office and are being paid to represent us want the general public (unpaid) to do their work for them ? Does this mean that if they take up our suggestions and are subsequently criticized they can then say “It wasn’t their idea”?
I would like to ask readers who are on a pension, regardless of what type, to think back past the last three years, before there was a pension increase and a plan for our, then failing, health system, before money was being put into school buildings and assistance to encourage home greening projects.
Is it the Labor Party’s fault if the financial situation all over the world is in a mess?
Let us please look at the bigger picture and remember why Kevin 07 was the flavor of the year.
4 June 2010
An Opposition without Policies
Having discussed both the budget contents and the reply by the opposition my colleagues and I are still at a loss to find any credit in either camp. They are all very lack lustre.
The media across the board are simply looking for things to negatively pick at. Now being a part of the media (in a sense) I really do not want to be seen to be another person desperately looking for something to comment on.
We are so disappointed by the continued statements by the opposition saying that they will disclose their policies before the election. To coin a phrase, “Can we believe them” now or in the future, can leopards change their spots?. What about the other smaller parties, where are their comments? Are they hiding behind the skirts of the two main contenders because they also have no policies to offer?
England’s new Prime Minister and his cabinet have taken some radical and bold steps to rectify their huge deficit, wage cuts, benefit cuts and more, to reduce their financial problem, which will take several years to sort out. We have many more benefits in this country than Europe.
The Euro was supposed to help keep the economy stable across the continent, however the spiral of people not spending money, therefore not buying the goods manufactured or farmed have caused part of this problem. The Labor Government tried to avoid this here by the grants that were handed out to encourage spending to keep the economy flowing, which was successful. We may have a deficit now but not to the extent of Europe.
The loudest voices in this land that complain about taxes are mostly the richest. It would be nice to see more consideration of the poor and the battlers who have a hard time just staying housed and fed.
18 May 2010
BUDGET / HEALTH
Media reports seem to be very biased in their reporting of the budget and the opposition response. My members would like to wait to comment on this budget until the opposition (Mr. Hockey) clarifies the methods its proposed measures will be paid for. It would also be beneficial for opposition comments on the Henry report items that this government has chosen to disregard.
Following my previous comments re Oral Health
(Australian 12 May) “The Denticare scheme scrapped”
The government has not acted on recommendations to establish a $5 billion Denticare program. The plan for providing basic dental services to the entire population either free of charge or on a heavily subsidised basis, despite favourable reaction from consumer groups.
The Federal Government says its policy for improving dental health remain, its proposed Commonwealth Dental Health Program, which would provide 1 million new services for needy Australians by providing more for state run public dental services.
According to the National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement existing public dental services are still the responsibility of the States.
More policy information is needed on this topic from all parties.
The National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement sets out where the responsibilities will lie with regards to funding.
The principles of this agreement are not just monetary but outline future strategies for extra beds, in hospitals and Nursing homes
Australia will need many, many, more nurses and doctors
Extra super qualified nurses for doctor’s practices,
Extra nurses to care for the “bed blockers”, where ever they are sent to.
Extra aged care nurses for our ageing population be they in nursing homes or “ageing in place”
What is the policy to attract more nurses into the system.
Is education the answer?
A suggestion is that Career Officers could target schools from year 9 to encourage vocational education, directional to the medical profession in much the same way that the Armed Forces go into schools to recruit.
It takes time for a doctor or nurse to be a fully trained and when they are qualified what policy will be put in place to keep them in this country, to fill the positions that will be ever vacant as the population grows and ages.
Many nurses once trained go to work where the dollar is highest whether that is in this country or overseas. Nurses from poor countries are trained here, become wise and still will go where the money is.
The answer is surely a federal pay structure and status respect that will keep them in Australia.
Health (Part 1)
It is with interest that we follow the current policy statements on ‘Health’ and notice there is no mention of preventative medicine. Many pensioners cannot afford private health care. This means long waiting lists for specialist help, and dental care. We need a better health care system that also embraces preventative medicine, especially regular dental care.
The Older Women’s Network has grave concerns over residential aged care. With everyone becoming more aware of the growth in the ageing population, the statements with reference to nursing home beds is becoming mind boggling. Where are these beds? Where is the staff to service them? Where is the money coming from?
1 million Australians receive some kind of aged care, there are 2800 nursing homes across the whole of the country, without enough staff to care for the clients. There were 12,573 calls to aged care investigators in 2008-09 and 1411 assaults in nursing homes. (quote The Age) Before we start shunting the elderly from our hospitals we need more nursing homes to place them in with a higher ratio of staff to patients.
Nursing homes are not just a place for the elderly, they also accommodate the disabled and the mentally ill. The increase in some forms of dementia in younger adults will exacerbate this situation unless addressed now. In a multicultural society there must be allowances made for the understanding of clients who as dementia progresses will lose their understanding of the English language and revert to their native tongue.
Any policy must include a pay rise for nursing staff and a recruitment drive to train more.
4 May 2010
Health (Part 2)
COAG is over, with total concentration on the National Health and Hospital agreements being signed. While everyone was talking hospitals and money and how it was to be allocated, the statement made about the prevention issues of alcohol, smoking and obesity were barely heard. However the issue of oral health has still yet to be mentioned at all.
Swedish researchers Anders Holmlund, Gunnar Holm and Lars Lind have released the results of a study that states; “Cardiovascular disease and in particular coronary heart disease is closely related to the number of teeth a person has left, a person with fewer that 10 of their own teeth has seven times higher risk for death by coronary heart disease than a person of the same age and same sex with more than 25 teeth.”
Good oral health also has an effect on nutrition and diet. Eating a healthy diet of fresh fruit and crispy vegetables full of vitamins can be very difficult or impossible without some good teeth. Oral deterioration leads to a diet of highly processed mushy food.
Not only is this diet not nutritious, the frustration and desperation of it can lead to smoking or alcohol consumption as a substitute.
When we talk “prevention” Dentistry should be top of the list. Free dental treatment is mostly only available for emergencies, for all other treatments the waiting lists are long by the time an emergency comes along it is too often too late to save the tooth. Worse still a dental check could diagnose mouth cancer early enough for intervention treatment.
Not being able to eat properly prevents eating with others thus we now touch on social isolation.
The elderly are being encouraged to “age in place”, HACC will ensure that someone will come for an hour once a fortnight to help with cleaning, someone can come and take them shopping, meals on wheels can deliver. Who observes the actually eating.
The older person living alone is subject to isolation and the depression that is often mistaken for the onset of Dementia.
2 April 2010
The Older Women’s Network Australia
The Older Women’s Network Australia is a not for profit organization, it was set up to provide an independent forum in which the special needs of older women could be specifically addressed.
It is committed to promoting the dignity and well being of older women who have a right to be recognized for their contribution to the economic, political, social and cultural areas of life.
OWN believes in a society rich in social capital where mutual respect and trust are paramount, where diversity and debate are valued and where people and their networks have a legitimate voice.
Our issues include; health, housing, age care, finance, transport, discrimination, violence and abuse.
As we get older we realize how little time we have to make things right. Older women for most of their lives have multi tasked making important decisions on the run. Which is why it is so very frustrating to see our politicians, who are paid admirably, wasting so much precious time at parliamentary sittings acting like children bickering about inconsequential rubbish. We want our politicians to get on with the job that they are paid to do.
Older women would like to see each political party, present their policies in a manner that can be understood without a Masters degree. Policies that are clear cut, straight to the point and precise in their meaning with no double talk. We need to comprehend the differences in each policy that we might then make educated decisions on which party will address our specific needs and ensure our health and welfare.
From an ageing perspective we have a wish list that includes:
Good policies on preventative health, especially free dental care.
A new policy on disability, carer and age pensions, with a more realistic assessment of rent allowances. Money could be saved by disallowing pensions to persons living overseas.
A policy needs to address senior housing, public housing retirement villages, as well as more government nursing homes. Nursing homes to have a compulsory higher ratio of trained staff to clients to ensure better care.
Reciprocal acknowledgment of senior discount cards across the States is admirable but more equality on concessions in other areas could be made.
Free retraining of seniors to enable them to regain employment until pension age.
A policy that standardizes the laws governing Powers of Attorney and Health Directives, will give protection from some forms of Elder abuse.