LETTERS from readers, June 2019

Article published 28 May 2019

LETTERS from readers, June 2019

The unemployed employed

BACK in the mid to late 1800s, it was normal for children younger than ten years old to be working in the mines and factories. Many of these children died at work, frequently with little or no compensation.

In 1854, the miners at Ballarat rebelled against authority, resulting in 27 deaths. This struggle is recognised as the birth of democracy in Australia, and indeed Australia led the world in democracy for many years.

Since then trade unions blossomed to represent the workers’ needs and aspirations and have become accepted as the voice of the working people.  Since the sweatshops of the 1800s, workers’ rights and conditions have gradually improved until the 1970s to the point where the 8-hour working day and penalty rates were normal.

It was accepted at that time that, as technology improved, the benefits were passed onto the workers as reduced work hours and increased wages. However, since that policy has changed with the benefits of technology resulting in less need for workers to be employed and the resulting benefits being absorbed into company profits.

Today we are arriving at the pointy end of this policy with robotised technology steadily replacing real working people. We see government declaring a person with one hours’ work weekly is ‘fully employed’.

George Paris – Rathmines, NSW


Dementia in retirement villages

I LIVE in a retirement village with dementia around me. New residents come in with seriously advanced dementia. It seems anything is acceptable to sell a unit in this village – forget the formal assessment.

Existing residents see and are compassionate about incidents, like peeing on anything, anywhere, at any time.

But it is concerning that carer-spouses plead but are not allowed to have an extra lock on their door to stop their partner getting out all night. Some go ahead and have a lock put on privately, because they know what the answer will be from management.

Some carer-spouses are supported by only a Level 1 Home Care Package. This means they get only four hours per week to do essential shopping and chores. Most are not in receipt of a Level 4 Package and can never socialise. They are forced to do essential chores outside their home that they cannot get done in the four hours in the company of their partner with dementia. We see the carer-spouses looking and acting wrecked through lack of sleep.

For the carer-spouse who must themselves source (with assistance) an affordable vacancy in a dementia unit finding somewhere a reasonable distance from where they live is a problem. I know of two carer-spouses in their 80s who must drive for up to an hour each way every day to visit their partner. Some carer-spouses who can’t cope with the distance daily travel move house, which is hugely costly.

(Name and suburb withheld)


Single pension too low

AS I have just become a widow I find it hard to come to terms with the single pension being 66 per cent of the couples’ pension. What does the government think we do? Stop our lives when we lose a spouse?

I will still need to pay my rates, water, phone, electricity, insurances, etc., and know only too well 90 per cent of my accounts will not be reduced to 66 per cent. There will be other things I will require to pay, such as lawn mowing, and minor repairs around the house, which were carried out by my husband.

Centrelink paid the couples’ pension on the first pay period after my spouse passed away and then a one off lump sum (but with no explanation), which I assume was to assist with funeral expenses. Both of these payments are helpful, but that is at that time. What happens in the future when all the bills come in?

I feel that the single pension should be 75 per cent or at the very least 70 per cent of the couples’ payment.

Jessie Spencer – Harrington, NSW


Energy rebate swifty?

CLEARLY, the administration of the NSW Energy Rebate should be with the NSW Government and a single application for the Rebate be recorded as permanent unless notified otherwise.

I’m referring to Wingecarribee Council and Click Energy. Previously both required the submission of a Rebate application form once only. At some non-notified point, that changed to the requirement to submit the application each year. It may be that the practice was adopted state wide.

The consequence of that action was zero dollars appearing on the energy bill line against the Rebate.

Couple that with no notification and the implication is these organisations were hoping people would not notice and a raft of extra money for the coffers.

Jim Christie – Yerrinbool, NSW


Royal Commission getting at truth

BEFORE the Aged Care Royal Commission, aged care providers were busy telling us for years that (1) Australia had “world class” aged care; (2) failures were “isolated incidents”; and (3) staffing ratios were a “blunt instrument”. They also promoted their “world class” success on the basis of flawless accreditation scores!

Now the Aged Care Royal Commission is applying the blowtorch and all sorts of shonky practices are shown to be rife: Dickensian examples of staffing and care, malnutrition, deficient oral care, financial rorting, restraints usage that even Guantanamo Bay prison officers would be jealous of, and managers who couldn’t tell the difference between a Tic-Tac and anti-psychotic medication.

Lynda Saltarelli – Aged Care Crisis


Two worlds: aged care and NDIS

My husband has been on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) since February 2017.

I was assessed as needing a Level 3 Home Care Package on 27 June 2018. I started on a Level 2 Package before Level 3. I cannot afford to pay the $21 per hour personal contribution for even housekeeping assistance let alone personal assistance when showering, for which I badly need assistance. I cannot afford respite care, although I have just come home from hospital, because it is too expensive per day.

I know the NDIS is pathetic when it comes to supplying technical assistance with motorised wheelchairs. My husband is still waiting for one he was promised in 2017. However, immediate access to a budget for the payment of house cleaning assistance in daily activities is wonderful. Obviously, the NDIS does not wait for care recipients to die before they have to provide decent care.

Why can the NDIS organise funding for a budget to cover housekeeping, personal assistance and daily activities of other types so quickly for people with disability, yet aged care takes so long to do the same?

This stinks.

Sue Hayes – Taree, NSW

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