Expand free dentistry for age pensioners
Jo Toohey, CEO of The Benevolent Society, Australia’s first charity, said funding cuts to the Adult Dental Services National Partnership Agreement announced before Christmas would impact the availability of dental services for older Australians who are already struggling.
“Older Australians, the most disadvantaged and those who can least afford it, should not disproportionately bear the brunt of government savings measures”, said Ms Toohey.
“There are approximately 1.5 million Australians living on the age pension. Too many are on the edge of poverty, struggling to make ends meet and living a life of deprivation.
“Our research shows there are older Australian’s who are mashing their food because they can’t afford to go to the dentist.
“A healthy mouth enables people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.
“We believe there should be an expansion of the provision of free dentistry for people receiving the Age Pension, not a contraction.
“The provision of Medicare funded dental care for all full pensioners, provided by existing private dentists in a similar way to GP services, would enable the most disadvantaged older people to access services critical to their health and well being.
Recent changes to the age pension, a critically important safety net for older Australians, will also affect many thousands of older Australians; some will gain, many more will lose.
“It’s time that politics was taken out of the age pension. We understand that defining what constitutes an ‘adequate’ amount for the Age Pension is extremely complex. That’s why we need a Pension Tribunal to provide an independent, expert mechanism for setting a fair base rate”, Ms Toohey said.
“The Benevolent Society would like to see more funding for services to assist older Australians to live with dignity, not less. We would also like to see the appointment of a Minister for Older Australians at the top of the government’s list of New Year’s resolutions.
“It is time for a focus on older Australians beyond aged care. We need a dedicated Minister and a National Agenda on ageing to address the social, economic and health opportunities and challenges of our ageing population.”
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About The Benevolent Society
The Benevolent Society is Australia’s first charity, working as a catalyst for social change for over 200 years. The Benevolent Society provides quality services in the areas of Child and Family Support and Assistance, and assisting older people and Australians with disability to age well and live a healthy life, staying in their homes wherever possible. For more information, please visit www.benevolent.org.au, on Facebook/thebenevolentsociety or on Twitter - @BenevolentSoc.