State of the Older Nation 2023
Increasing cost of living pressures are casting a shadow over older Australians, with national research released this week by the COTA Federation indicating that quality of life has not yet returned to pre-covid levels for people aged 50+.
In its third edition, COTA Federation’s State of the Older Nation (SOTON) 2023 report details the experiences and views of 2,750 Australians aged 50 and over, and this year paints a bleak picture.
Results reveal that almost half (45%) of older Australians believe that things are getting worse for them, a figure which has climbed significantly since 2021 (when 33% felt this way) and 2019 (when 27% felt this way). This sentiment is also mirrored by 46% of older South Australians.
Concerningly, almost a quarter (24%) of working people do not think they will ever retire and are insecure about their finances and alarmingly one-fifth (20%) are under pressure with overdue bills due to payment difficulties.
The report also highlights an overarching pessimism that is underpinned by fewer older Australians feeling financially secure, as well as more respondents reporting difficulties accessing health services, reports of age discrimination, and worries about their risk of homelessness – with sentiments even worse among those most vulnerable in the community.
The release of the SOTON findings comes as COTA SA and COTA Australia welcome new cost of living measures announced in the May Federal Budget. While the Budget has offered short-term relief, the rise of inflation remains a concern for older South Australian particularly pensioners, renters and those on low incomes.
COTA SA Chief Executive, Miranda Starke, said, "Struggling to maintain financial security is a worrying reality for older South Australians with the rising cost of living. Increases in energy bills, grocery and petrol prices are the major driver of this pressure with 14% of participants reporting they had overdue energy bills. While the Federal Budget goes some way to relieve these pressures, older South Australian are still worried that their standard of living may decrease in the future”.
At a time where older South Australians should be enjoying life, many approaching retirement age are worrying about making ends meet, survival, and keeping their house”, Miranda continued.
In addition, the inability to access healthcare and medical services is another factor contributing to the growing sense of pessimism among older Australians. As the population ages, the demand for healthcare services is increasing and we hope that the latest Budget announcement will go some way to alleviate the barriers older South Australians report when accessing a GP, nursing support, and mental health services.
“As a peak body that represents the rights, interests, and futures of 700,000 South Australians aged over 50, we have provided key recommendations to State Government as a part of our 2023-24 State Budget submission which covers five key priority areas, including health and wellbeing and the cost of living. We are hoping to see further relief for older South Australians in upcoming State budget”, concluded Miranda.