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Valuing our seniours on International Day of Older Persons

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Minister for Mental Health and Ageing

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Mental Health Reform


1 October 2011


The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, today encouraged all Australians to honour their parents, grandparents and other seniors living in the community.

Today marks the International Day of Older Persons and provides all Australians with an opportunity to celebrate the ongoing contribution that older people make to their communities.

“Older Australians are living longer, healthier and more productive lives than ever before, which is a development we should be proud of, and an achievement that should be celebrated,” Mr Butler said.

“As well as keeping our economy strong, they’ve helped us stave off the challenges of the past and helped make Australia the nation it is today.

“Older Australians have much to contribute to business, to education and to the community and we need to do more to encourage these contributions beyond retirement.”

Australia has an ageing population. By 2050, the number of people aged 65 to 84 years is expected to double while the number of people aged over 85 years is expected to quadruple.

This will mean that in 40 years about a quarter of the population will be aged 65 years or over, an increase of around 13 per cent from today.

The Gillard Labor Government is continuing to provide care, support and encouragement to older Australians, ensuring that they continue contributing to our community - whether in work, in retirement or caring roles.

Our achievements include:

• Introducing compulsory superannuation and increasing it from 9 to 12 per cent, enabling people to retire with dignity.

• Boosting pensions for Australia’s 3.4 million pensioners from this month. Single pensioners on the maximum rate will receive an extra $19.50 a fortnight. Pensioner couples combined on the maximum rate will receive an extra $29.60 a fortnight. These increases build on the historic increases delivered in 2009 by this Labor Government.

• Making it easier for pensioners to do a bit of work through an improved Work Bonus, which is helping pensioners balance their household budgets, by letting working pensioners keep more of their pension when they work. Eligible pensioners can earn up to $250 a fortnight without it being assessed as income under the pension income test.

• Removing barriers to employment for mature age people and supporting older workers who want to keep working. Mature age Australians can access the Government's $43.3 million Productive Ageing Package to provide vital training and support. Job seekers and workers aged 45 years and over are also be eligible for free, professional career advice to help them plan for successful career transitions.

• Delivering on our 2010 election commitment to establish the first Federal stand-alone Age Discrimination. Our first dedicated Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon Susan Ryan is working to address ageism in the workplace and the community.

• Establishing the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians, to ensure the potential of the older members of our community is considered in a range of policy debates.

As they age, many Australians may come to rely on care and support provided by the aged care system. The Government is committed to building on its broader ageing achievements by reforming Australia’s aged care system.

Media contact: Virginia Kim, 0407 415 484