Sydney Times


COTA NSW March 2022 Newsletter

COTA NSW March 2022 Newsletter

The Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA NSW) is the peak organisation for people over 50 in NSW. We’re an independent, consumer-based non-government organisation. We work with politicians, policy makers, service providers and the media to make sure the views of older people are heard and acted on.
From the CEO
Welcome to Autumn!It’s been another damp summer – on the upside gardens everywhere are looking green and lush, but I am looking forward to the humidity starting to drop now we’re officially in Autumn.

COTA NSW met with the new Minister for Seniors last month – it was a great first meeting, and we’re looking forward to working with the Minister over the year ahead – we already have another three meetings booked into the diary.

We’re excited that the COTA Conversations webinar series starts again for 2022 this week. If you haven’t already, register now for our discussion on Intimacy as you age (Thursday 3 March at 10.30am). Later this month (Thursday 17 March at 10.30am) we’ll be talking about the Dos and Don’ts of Downsizing with our special guest panellist Peter Walsh (from Space Invaders on channel nine)- and you can register for that one too.

And don’t forget Seniors Festival later this month! The theme this year is reconnect – and that’s something we’re all looking forward to doing as the COVID-19 restrictions ease. You can find events right around NSW here – there’s something for everyone to get involved with.

At this stage we are still working from home, but we will be back in the office as soon as possible. Remember that you can always call (9286 3860/1800 449 102) or email if we can help.

Until next month, stay well, and stay in touch,


PS Don’t forget to get in touch if you need a speaker for your group this year – the Community Speakers are ready to go!

COTA NSW Campaigns
Design and place

This month COTA NSW responded to a request for comment on NSW Planning’s Draft Design and Place SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy).

This planning document, together with the associated Draft Apartment Guide and Draft Urban Design Guide, create a framework based on five key design principles: Deliver beauty and amenity, Deliver inviting public spaces and enhanced public life, Promote productive and connected places, Deliver sustainable and greener places and Deliver resilient and diverse places.

COTA NSW was encouraged by the inclusion of energy efficient design, focus on walkability and access to public space and services, but raised concerns on the continued resistance to the mandating of the new minimum accessibility standards in the National Construction Code. Read the submission

Voluntary assisted dying

The VAD campaign continues. COTA NSW joined with Dying With Dignity and several other community groups and unions last year to support Alex Greenwich MP and a number of his parliamentary colleagues in their bid to have Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation passed in NSW.

COTA NSW supporters sent more than 20,000 letters of support to members of parliament and the Bill passed through the Legislative Assembly in December. After a Legislative Council Inquiry, the legislation started debate in the upper house on Wednesday 23rd February.

Thanks to everyone who signed the earlier petition when the legislation was going through the Legislative Assembly. There is a new petition specifically addressing the upper house – if you would like people in NSW to be free to choose to die with dignity, please sign this petition before the 4th of March.

Footpath funding

Older people consistently tell us that when footpaths aren’t adequate, they have trouble getting around. COTA NSW has been advocating for increased funding for footpaths for some time, and was pleased to see that Rob Stokes is aiming to significantly increase funding for active transport.

Dr Sue Ferguson – On Gratitude
Gratitude involves acknowledging and appreciating something good in your life. It can be a positive emotion experienced when you receive kindness from others, and a way you think (a general positive orientation toward appreciating others and life circumstances), or a behaviour (expressing thanks to someone who has helped you or been kind).

Gratitude has been shown to contribute to wellbeing and to physical health. And the good news is you can now learn research-based ways to boost your feelings of gratitude.

How do I know if I’m generally a grateful person?  Read more

COTA NSW programs
Living Longer Living StrongerCOTA NSW’s affordable strength and balance exercise program is continuing remarkably well considering the continual interruptions caused by COVID-19. Many existing classes have re-launched in the new year or are gearing up to start soon, and there are also some new classes in different areas. (see participants at Penrith above).

Because of the unpredictable start to the year, several training courses for new instructors have had to be delayed, but they are now scheduled to kick off in the next few months. We’ve been working with local health districts and primary health networks to build alliances which enable us to train multiple instructors in their areas. In particular we hope to bring the program to western and southern NSW this year.

More and more research is telling us that exercise, and in particular strength and balance training, has all sorts of benefits as we get older. So check out our programs here, and tell your friends about Living Longer Living Stronger too. If there’s no class in your area, tell us why you need one!

Pictured are participants in the Living Longer Living Stronger class at Penrith.

Aged Care Navigator

With the easing of COVID restrictions, COTA NSW’s aged care navigators can now meet face to face with people who need assistance accessing in-home and residential aged care. They can also give presentations about the program and the aged care system to community groups. We can also still help people over the phone as well.

The Aged Care Navigator service will be housed in Blacktown from April, taking space in the new Relationships Australia office. If you or anyone you know needs help, or you would like a speaker for your community group, please contact the Aged Care Navigator Service on 0438 431 817 or 8268 9601 or email

Legal Pathways

Our Legal Pathways Coordinator attended the 7th National Elder Abuse conference hosted by COTA Tasmania and Elder Abuse Action Australia (EAAA) in February.

One of the issues highlighted was the importance of having a trusted person with Power of Attorney who can make decisions for you if you are no longer able to make them for yourself. It’s also very important to keep this up to date, as circumstances can change and people you appointed some years ago may no longer be suitable.

The Compass website set up by EEAA has some excellent explanations of the issues involved in Power of Attorney and the differing regulations in each state. It also has up-to-date resources on understanding, preventing and responding to elder abuse.

COTA NSW’s Legal Pathways program can guide you on who to select and how to appoint a substitute decision maker, and update previous appointments as required. We can refer eligible people to one of our participating private solicitors who can draw up Power of Attorney and other later-life documents for $50 per document. For more information go to our website or phone Judith on 02 8268 9616 or 1800 449 102.

Beat the health insurance price hike
Health insurance premiums will increase in April by an average of 2.7%. Some funds, including Medibank, AHM, NIB, Defence Health, Teachers’ Health, Westfund and HCF have delayed their increases until later in the year.

Consumer organisation Choice tells us that policies will generally allow you to pre-pay your premium for at least 12 months. So if you do this before your fund increases you can lock in the cheaper price. For example, HCF is delaying its increase until I November and allows you to pre-pay for up to 18 months, so you can lock in your current cost until 31 March 2024. Some funds also give discounts for paying in advance and paying by direct debit.

Now is a good time to make sure that your policy is working for you. Choice recommends you consider the following:   Read more


Are you leaking?
Have you received a high water bill you can’t explain? You may have a hidden water leak.

To check for a hidden leak, look for:

  • Discolored or swollen cupboards, kitchen tops and floors
  • Water pooling around your water meter
  • Wet patches in the driveway
  • Green patches in your lawn that may indicate a broken pipe underground
  • Drips or stains near the hot water system

You should also check your meter. Take a picture of the numbers on your water meter then stop using all water, including taps, toilets and showers, for an hour. Then return to the meter and compare the numbers. If there has been a change, there may be a leak on your side of the meter.

Other causes of increased water usage can include:

  • Dripping taps in basins and showers
  • Toilets that keep running after flushing
  • Dripping hose nozzles

Leaks can waste a lot of water. A tap dripping once every second can waste over three litres a day, and a running toilet or leaking underground water pipe can waste thousands of litres per day!   Read more

A salty story
March 14-20 is World Salt Awareness Week, and we think they want us to be aware how bad it is for you, rather than how great it tastes!

Most people know that too much salt is generally not good for you, as the sodium component of salt can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of kidney disease, heart attacks and strokes. But has it occurred to you that reducing your sodium intake is one of the simplest things that you can do to improve your health?

The recommended amount of sodium for Australian adults is 2,000 milligrams per day —equivalent to about five grams of salt or one teaspoon. Occasionally people who undertake prolonged endurance exercise may need more than this.

However, a target of 460 to 920mg per day (1.15 to 2.3g of salt) is the intake that may help prevent chronic disease. It’s also OK to consume less than this.

How to reduce your salt intake?   Read more

Watch out for scam texts
Your COTA NSW correspondent has been receiving an increasing number of text messages telling me that my parcel couldn’t be delivered, my Netflix account has been frozen, or my bank account has been hacked. Their common characteristic is that they want me to click on a link in the text.

It’s most likely these days that I am expecting a parcel, or I do have a Netflix account, and I may well bank with the bank the message is supposedly from. When we are busy, it’s easy to click on the link without thinking through what we might actually be doing.

Another common message is that you have missed a voicemail. Again, if we think it through, we know this message looks different from the normal one we get when we have an unopened message. But if we are distracted we might not notice.

These are all scams! If you click on the link in any of these texts, it will download malware onto your phone. This may be able to initiate a phone call without your permission, send and receive texts, and read your contact data and personal information.

To protect yourself, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommends the following:    Read more

Book review – Making sense of our  lives
Loop Tracks by New Zealand writer Sue Orr has just been released by Upswell Publishing. Previously published by Victoria University of Wellington, this captivating novel is now more widely available, as it deserves to be.

Loop tracks refer to the way our lives spiral forwards and backwards in time over our lifespan, intersecting at different points with our experiences, and allowing us to view our past from different perspectives. In this novel, Sue Orr has created a clear narrative structure within which the main character’s thoughts mimic the spirograph pattern on the book’s cover.

The novel begins with a scene in Auckland airport in 1978. Charlie has just turned sixteen and is waiting to board a flight to Sydney for the termination of her pregnancy. The Pan Am flight is delayed and after hours of waiting on board, passengers are invited to disembark and wait in the terminal.

Charlie’s actions at that moment shape the rest of her life. In Loop Tracks she tells her story in first person from the distance of forty years on, looping back often to that pivotal time in her childhood, reliving the reactions of her parents, her schoolmates, and her own emotions as she makes a life for herself.

Loop Tracks is the first novel I have read with the COVID pandemic as a backdrop to its 2020 action. Along with New Zealand politics (abortion law, the lead-up to an election, and a referendum on euthanasia), adjustment to pandemic restrictions intrudes on the lives of Charlie and her circle in ways that resonate with the novel’s themes of the right to choose, the consequences of choices, and the serendipity of moments of joy.

We all enjoy most the books we find difficult to put down. Loop Tracks was one of those books for me. In large part, this was due to the quirky and authentic voice of the main character. In her forthrightness, Charlie reminded me of Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Ketteridge in the novel of the same name.

A primary school teacher and would-be linguist, Charlie needs to release her live-in grandson as he pulls away from her teaching and protection into adult life with ideas of his own about abortion, pandemic restrictions, and euthanasia.

I found Loop Tracks an engrossing novel about one woman’s life and thoughts in the context of political issues affecting the contemporary lives of women in New Zealand and Australia.

Jenny Stapledon is a retired researcher into child development and education. She now reviews books and has just completed her first novel. You can read and subscribe to her book review blog here.

Webinars – Sex and downsizing
Good news! Our February webinar has been postponed until March 3, so you still have time to catch our riveting discussion on everyone’s favourite topic. And our regular webinar will also be held on March 17.

Thursday March 3: Let’s Talk About Sex: Intimacy as You AgeMaintaining healthy sexual intimacy is an important aspect of ageing well. Too often, however, these crucial conversations are stigmatised and hidden. Join COTA NSW for a no-holds-barred discussion of sex and ageing, from keeping your sex life interesting and intimate, to practising safe sex as you age. Hear from a panel of experts about the crucial ingredients of good sex as you get older, and ask them your burning questions. More information about the panel.
Register here for the webinar and we will send you the log-in details.

Thursday March 17: The Dos and Don’ts of Downsizing

Many older people choose to downsize as they age, whether it’s to save money or to clear up clutter. However, downsizing can often be challenging, with important legal, financial, and logistical aspects to take into consideration. Join COTA NSW for a helpful discussion about how best to navigate your downsizing – from finding a new home that’s right for you, to choosing what belongings to keep. Ask our panel of experts any questions you need answered to begin your downsizing journey. More information about the panel.
Register here for the webinar and we will send you the log-in details.

You can also see some very interesting webinar discussions from last year here.

In brief
Superannuation changes legislated in February
In legislation passed in February, the government has removed the $450-per-month earnings threshold for employers to make contributions to employee super. The age of eligibility for downsizer contributions  has been reduced from 65 to 60. The work test for making super contributions has been removed for people aged 67-74. The changes will apply from July 1.Survey on housing for people with mobility limitations
The Physical Disability Council of NSW would like to find out more about the housing experiences of people whose mobility is limited in any way. They are interested in hearing from both owners and renters. The information will be used to advocate for better housing options for all people with accessibility requirements. Take the survey If you can’t access the survey, or you have any questions, please contact PDCN on or phone 1800 688 831. Closing date 31 March 2022.Survey on heat effects
Summers in Australia aren’t just a day at the beach. Sweltering Cities, a new project to promote a vision for cooler, more equitable and sustainable cities, is asking you to be part of the biggest survey on heat, health and homes in Australia. Share your experiences, and your ideas for cooler and safer communities. Take the survey Closing date end March 2022.Study on effect of supplements
The FAITH (Frailty, Ageing and Inflammation Trial for Health) study at the University of NSW is looking for people aged 60-70 to take part in research on the effect of nutritional supplements on health status, particularly on frailty, ageing, etc. It will involve taking supplements, providing samples and taking part in interviews. There are various exclusions including people with bowel disease, diabetes and those already taking fibre or antioxidant supplements. To register interest contact Milena Katz on 0402 385 835 or There is also more information here. Closing date end March 2022.

Intergenerational playgroup project
Have you seen “Old people’s homes for 4-year-olds” program on the ABC? There is increasing evidence that social interaction between young children and older people has benefits for both. Researchers from the University of Canberra and the University of Wollongong are exploring the feasibility of an intergenerational ‘lose parts’ play program. ‘Loose parts’ play uses materials such as boxes, pipes, blocks and rocks that children can adapt, move, design and transform. The researchers are seeking your ideas and feedback through a 10-minute survey. You can get a paper survey by phoning Cate Hilly on 02 62068675. Closing date 1 April 2022.And don’t forget – there are plenty of other opportunities to participate in research relating to older people on our website

COVID-19 useful information
Support COTA NSW
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And don’t forget – we always appreciate your financial support. Donations to COTA NSW are tax deductable, and you will receive a receipt for tax purposes. You can donate by clicking on the button below. Thank you.

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