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COTA NSW October 2022 Newsletter

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COTA NSW October 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 Acting CEO, Karen Appleby
Cyber security in focusAs one of the 10 million people impacted by the recent data breach at Optus, it has prompted me to pause and re-examine the importance of protecting my own personal data, but also the broader implications for older consumers.

For some older people, their interactions online and within social media have become a ‘virtual’ community and for many has been critical in remaining socially connected with the outside world during restrictions imposed during the pandemic. Also, governments and private companies are increasingly requiring people to interact with them online.

In a COTA NSW survey conducted in 2021, 57% of respondents had received scam emails. It is therefore vital that all organisations take measures to ensure our personal information is safe and protected.

However, it is also important that we as individuals safeguard our online dealings as best we can. The Be Connected website provides a wealth of information to stay safe online and links to free training in your local area. And go to Scam Watch for up to date information on the latest scams and where you can get help if you think you have been a victim of a scam.

We have a presence in our office now, but it’s best to call or email initially if you wish to contact us. Call us (02 9286 3860 or 1800 449 102) or email info@cotansw.com.au.

Until next month, stay safe and well.

Karen

Dr Sue Ferguson – Sensing that we matter to others

Do you ever feel like you don’t matter anymore? Or do you know someone who you suspect feels that way about themselves?

We humans need to have a sense of mattering. This involves a feeling that other people depend on us, pay attention to us, regard us as important, and would miss us if we were not in their life, as well as a sense that we are a useful and accepted member of society.

Older people can be particularly vulnerable to loneliness and feeling that they don’t matter, as people we have relationships with move away or die, or we ourselves become less able to physically help others.

Does mattering matter?  Read more

Interestingly in the light of the role of volunteering in feeling that you matter, a recent study by Meals on Wheels found that volunteers for that organisation have 10% higher wellbeing than other Australians, including other volunteers. Even when compared to volunteers for other organisations who were of a similar age group and volunteer time commitment, Meals on Wheels volunteers still report having 4% higher overall wellbeing. Those who had been volunteering for at least six years reported significantly higher scores across factors related to their sense of belonging and connection. Read the report
Today is global Ageism Awareness Day
Many COTA NSW readers will have experienced some form of age discrimination. There is the difficulty older people have in the employment market, the media discussions about baby boomers somehow ruining things for everyone else, or even just the jokes about older people and technology which the jokers probably don’t even realise are ageist (and particularly get on your reasonably tech-aware correspondent’s goat).

The harsh reality is that ageism remains one of the most acceptable forms of discrimination. Today, Friday 7 October, has been designated as Ageism Awareness Day by the United Nations. While many of us might prefer a whole year of awareness about ageism, it does provide an opportunity to focus on the issue.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates says there is still a long way to go, and governments at all levels must take a key leadership role. ‘The Australian Human Rights Commission last year found that 90% per cent of Australians agree that there is ageism  in this country, yet we are still yet to see some of the simple, concrete measures that older Australians have been asking for,’ he said.

In particular, COTA is calling for a Productivity Commission inquiry into the prevalence and costs of ageism in Australia, particularly in reference to workplaces and health services, and a high priority inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission leading to stronger age discrimination laws.

‘It’s time we stopped accepting ageism and negative messages about ageing and started taking proactive steps to address the problem,’ Mr Yates said. ‘People of all ages, including older Australians, should be valued and respected and have their contributions acknowledged. Throughout their lives, from start to finish.’

Caring for carers
Caring for a family member or friend with an illness or disability can be very rewarding, but also very demanding. It’s difficult to talk about this when you may be so much better off than the person you are caring for, and you may even be too embarrassed to mention any stress you are experiencing because you fear people might disapprove.

So with Carer’s week this 9-15 October, how do carers care for themselves, and what resources are available for them? According to Carers NSW Australia, there are five main things you can do to help preserve your own wellbeing, based on research from around the world. Read more

Living Longer Living Stronger expands in Sydney
COTA NSW is very pleased to announce that we have forged a partnership with Share, a not for profit organisation that provides exercise classes to people over 50 in many locations around Sydney. This has enabled us to greatly expand the availability of the Living Longer Living Stronger program in the metropolitan area.

A number of Share staff have now completed the Living Longer Living Stronger instructor training program, thanks to support from the Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (see picture above). Many of the new instructors are bilingual, which will expand access to the program even further.

Living Longer Living Stronger is an exercise program with is adapted to suit each person’s individual needs and abilities. You have an initial assessment and then work with other people in a friendly group setting. You can find all the new classes as well as existing ones throughout NSW on the COTA NSW website.

Credit becomes elusive
Thinking about getting a new credit card? You may need to think again if you are a retiree.

Consumer organisation Choice has heard a number of stories from retirees and semi-retirees who have been denied credit, despite having income and assets high enough to cover repayments. This comes in a context of increasing regulation that has forced financial institutions to be more careful with when offering credit.

One semi-retiree with a part-time business applied for a new card he could use for business expenses, to keep them separate from private expenditure. This was refused by the Commonwealth Bank, despite his having ‘substantial’ assets including multiple properties, saying that it would be ‘unsafe’ to give him more credit. He then suggested they split his existing limit between two cards instead of one, which they also declined to do.

Another retiree wanted to get her own card from ANZ rather than being a secondary card holder on her husband’s card, as she was concerned about being left without credit if he died. Despite significant assets, she was told she didn’t meet the bank’s ‘lending criteria’.

Why are cards being denied? Read more

Become a google genius
Do you remember the moment when you first used Google? Your correspondent was introduced to it by a colleague. There I was, fiddling about with Internet Explorer or Yahoo or something, and she, a librarian and advanced in these matters, suggested Google – ‘It’s so much better’. And it was.

Over 20 years later, Google has become a verb, an advertising behemoth, and part of our everyday lives. Google is making a mint out of us, but are we getting as much from it as we can?

Here are some great tips for improving your search success rate: Read more

NSW government rebates
The NSW government wants you to know they offer a wide range of rebates to pensioners, including a new cash back arrangement for road tolls.

From January, pensioners who spend more than $375 a year on tolls will be eligible for cash back of up to $750 per year. This will be an additional help with transport costs on top of the existing Gold Opal Card concession which caps public transport cost at $2.50 per day across Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands.

There are more than 70 discounts available through the Savings Finder program. These include: Read more

Count your birds
Have you ever wondered about the birds in your life? Birdlife Australia’s annual Backyard Bird Count will take place from 17-23 October, and you too can take part. Spring is the best time for this as it’s when birds are more lively and visible, and migrant birds return to our shores.

To take part, you count all the birds you see in one spot for 20 minute stretches – it could be your backyard, or a park, or even a town centre. You can do this as many times as you like over the period. If you can hear a bird but can’t see it, only record it if you can clearly identify it by the call (such as a kookaburra). The Bird Count app has a handy field-guide to help you identify birds. Read more

Book review – A life of service
They say that every book an author writes explores the same themes. Reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro got me thinking about how this very different novel raises similar issues to the other two Ishiguro books I have read, The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. In my view, Ishiguro is exploring what it means to be born into a position of servitude to others.

In The Remains of the Day, we enter the mind and experiences of a butler in a grand house in England. In his futuristic dystopian novel, Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro imagines the lives of teenagers who have been cloned for organ donation.

While Klara and the Sun is a futuristic novel like Never Let Me Go, its future is not so distant from the present day, when artificial intelligence is becoming a greater part of our lives. We are moving from robotic vacuum cleaners and cars that keep us a safe distance from the car in front to the development of human-like robots who may well be caring for us in old age.

In Klara and the Sun, the narrator Klara is a companion robot for children. She is solar-powered and sees the sun as a source of nourishment not just for her, but for Josie, the child whose companion she becomes.

As the novel opens, Klara is in a store, waiting to be chosen. She is unusual because of her observational and deductive powers and her strong sense of curiosity. Ishiguro establishes her superior abilities through clever details of Klara’s observations about the people and events she sees in the street outside the store. When Klara is chosen by Josie and her mother, she enters a far more complex and challenging world.

As in other Ishiguro novels, Klara accepts her status and is loyal and devoted to the child she serves. Later in the story, she sets out on a difficult quest to get Josie the help she needs.

At the same time, she continues her observations and finds that Josie and her family are more variable than Artificial Friends in their emotions and motivations. Driving the tension in the novel is the question of what this will mean for Klara. You’ll have to read it to see.

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.

COTA NSW October webinar
How’s Your Headspace?: Older people’s mental healthThe past few years have been difficult for many people, and mental health issues in older people have increased significantly. Despite this, older people’s mental health remains a stigmatised and under-discussed topic. Join COTA NSW and our panel of experts to discuss mental health for older people, and what we can do to look after each other – and ourselves.When: Thursday October 20
Time: 10.30am-12pm
How: Zoom

Speakers

  • Dr Jessamine Chen – Senior Clinical Psychologist at the Centre for Emotional Health and the Centre for Ageing, Cognition and Wellbeing at Macquarie University, currently researching psychological interventions for anxiety and depression in older adults.
  • Dr Jane Turner – senior clinical psychologist and recognised expert in working with older people, now working in her private practice Amazing Ageing Psychology and passionately committed to empowering people as they age.
Register now!
COTA NSW AGM
We are excited to announce that social researcher and all round living treasure Hugh Mackay will be the speaking live at the COTA NSW Annual General Meeting!

Hugh will address the extremely relevant topic of Kindness: The antidote to loneliness. You can hear him, as well as playing your part in the COTA business and meeting some of your fellow COTA NSW supporters at the AGM on Friday 25 November at 10am at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney.

There will be a Zoom option as well for those who can’t attend in person. Watch out for our invitation next week with details on how to rsvp for the in-person event or register for Zoom.

In brief
Info about energy
Plug in is a new website produced by Energy Consumers Australia to provide evidence-based information and help energy consumers navigate the complex world that energy provision and use has become. There are lots of topics covered including installing and using solar power, electric vehicles, going off-grid and monitoring and reducing your energy use. Check it out!Win a trip to Vietnam
You can be in the running to win a fabulous trip for two to Vietnam by signing up to receive the free e-newsletter from The Senior newspaper between now and November 30. The Vietnam at a Glance tour with Wendy Wu tours is valued at up to $10,380. You’ll also keep up to date when it comes to seniors’ news, travel, health, lifestyle, finance and entertainment. If you already receive The Senior, you can still use the sign-up form to enter the competition. More information and sign up formSave a koala
Who doesn’t love a koala? But unfortunately we might not be loving them for much longer if their habitat continues to be destroyed. An online petition to the NSW Parliament calls for scientifically based protection of the remaining chlamydia-free and largest recovering koala population in NSW, under threat from development in Campbelltown. You can add your voice to the call to give this healthy population a chance to grow. Sign the petition

Flood resources
This week we heard that NSW has already broken the record for rainfall this year, and it’s only October. Large parts of NSW have been affected by flooding and may be again before the year is out. If you live in a flood-prone area, it’s crucial to have a plan of what you will do if there is a flood, and be prepared. While things may get chaotic  in the heat of the moment, the NSW government has a range of resources and services to help you. You can find information about the current situation, tips on planning and coping and access to financial support here.

Return to work program for women
The NSW government is offering a return to work program for women who have been unemployed for one month or more. Among other groups, women over 50 and women who are carers will be prioritised. Successful applicants will receive support to develop their return to work plan and will have access to one-off grants of up to $5,000 for things like training, work necessities and transport. To apply phone Service NSW on 13 77 88. More information

Home care packages Q and A
The Older Persons’ Advocacy Network will be holding an online question and answer session on home care packages, including statements, fees and charges. The panel will include, Heidri Brook (Senior Practitioner, Financial Advocate , Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia), Gwenda Darling (Member, Older Persons Advocacy Network’s National Older Persons Reference Group) and Stephanie O’Halloran (Director, Home Care Operations Section, Department of Health and Aged Care). It’s on Tuesday 18 October from 11.30-12.30. Register here

Day for war widows
The NSW Government has designated 19 October as an annual day to officially recognise widows and widowers of members of the Australian Defence Force for their contribution and personal sacrifice. The date acknowledges the birthday of Mrs Jessie Vasey OBE CBE (1897­-1966), who founded the Australian War Widows Guild in 1945 and worked tirelessly to ensure that war widows were given the support and services they needed. The inaugural event this year will include formal thanks in the NSW parliament.

Seasonal jobs
Need some extra money for Christmas? Australia Post will be looking for seasonal employees in the lead up to the festive season. No experience is necessary. There may also be opportunities for permanent work. More information

And don’t forget – there are opportunities to participate in research relating to older people on our website.

COVID-19 Useful information
Support COTA NSW
You can keep up with the very latest from COTA NSW and join in the discussion via FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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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