Fraser Coast region's seniors deserve a fair go
SENIORS on the Fraser Coast are poorer and more isolated than those in Brisbane, and the population is getting older fast. Already 25.6% of residents are aged 65 or over.
The Fraser Coast Chronicle today reveals that figure will reach 32.1% by 2036, with 22,835 more seniors calling the region home.
We are demanding the Federal Government fixes the unfair imbalance that leaves our seniors isolated, more destitute and with health care access that is inferior to what is available in the city.
This year's OECD Pensions at a Glance report revealed more than one-third of Australians were living below the poverty line.
Australia ranked the second lowest of the 34 OECD countries on social equity, ahead only of South Korea, with 36% of pensioners surviving on less than half of the country's median household income.
Department of Human Services data reveals 81.3% of Fraser Coast residents over the age of 65 receive an age pension, compared to 63.3% in Brisbane and a national rate of 69.5%.
By 2036, the Fraser Coast is projected to be home to 7070 people over the age of 85.
Council on the Ageing Queensland chief executive officer Mark Tucker-Evans said more effort was needed to include seniors in the community.
With rail services statewide now a shadow of their past because of a lack of federal funding, Mr Tucker-Evans said all tiers of government must co-operate to develop workable public transport solutions.
"Taxis are often unavailable for people in remote areas, or too expensive for someone on a pension to afford," he said.
"That becomes a critical point for people becoming socially isolated.
"Often, the only solution is for them to abandon their properties, and they very rarely get anywhere near a return on their investment."
Mr Tucker-Evans would not support ride-sharing business Uber - despite many seniors using the app to supplement their pensions - as long as it remained illegal in Queensland.
"But we need to be creative in terms of transport and embrace changing technologies to meet community needs," he said.
As aged care moves towards a consumer-directed model, Mr Tucker-Evans said it was important to include regional seniors in the conversation.
"It's not a 'one size fits all' model," he said.
"It needs to be done in collaboration with older people, recognising that regional and remote Queensland have specific challenges."