BENEVOLENT: Benevolent Society advocacy campaigner, Joel Pringle is working across targeted regional areas to raise awareness on poverty in the aged population.
BENEVOLENT: Benevolent Society advocacy campaigner, Joel Pringle is working across targeted regional areas to raise awareness on poverty in the aged population. Sophie Moeller

Gladstone's elderly at the bottom of the wellbeing ladder

THE Benevolent Society's Fix Pension Poverty campaign is honing in on Central Queensland.

Advocacy campaigner Joel Pringle said Gladstone was targeted for its large number of elderly residents "doing it pretty tough”.

Mr Pringle said older people in Gladstone experienced well-being in the lowest 20 per cent of the country, according to the Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians.

He said Fix Pension Poverty was focused on four policy changes affecting those on the Age Pension.

These were: creating an independent tribunal to set the pension base rate, providing more rent assistance, providing free dental care and addressing increased utility costs through a broadband rebate.

Mr Pringle said the Age Pension base rate should "rely on the expertise of people who have knowledge in their area” rather than "what the electoral cycle is”.

The current maximum basic fortnightly Age Pension rate is $834.40 for single people and $629 per person for couples, according to the Department of Human Services website.

Mr Pringle also said no subsidised dental care was a major issue for those on the pension, and he had "spoken to people who were mashing their food to avoid seeing a dentist”.

But he said "the most immediate thing” the government could do to address poverty in older people was increase rent assistance.

A recent Grattan Institute report, Money in retirement: More than enough said the "vast majority” of retirees today and in future were likely to be financially comfortable.

However, it said this did not extend to those in the private rental market, and recommended the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance be increased by 40 per cent.

"Loosening the Age Pension assets test could boost retirement incomes for around 20 per cent of retirees today,” the report said.



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