AMWU retired members have demanded governments respect the dignity of older people by increasing the value of the social safety net and protecting their right to live without family violence.
Debate at last week’s AMWU Retired Members Division National Conference reached consensus on the need for a new minimum “Social Wage” level to protect the value of pensions, a position set to be put before our union’s National Conference in July.
But arguably the most emotive issue at the two-day conference in Sydney was the impact of family violence on senior citizens, a problem identified by the recent Victorian Royal Commission.
AMWU retired members National Secretary Frank Cherry said it had been recognised that this type of family violence was usually not physical, but psychological and financial.
“The Victorian Royal Commission believed this requires action, particularly over families not consulting elderly parents and relatives over staying in their own homes and also going against their financial wishes,” he said.
“This is often very subtle but a terrible kind of discrimination, people at the conference opened up about feeling vulnerable or knowing someone it had happened to.”
Experience counts: our Retired Members Division delegates at their triennial National Conference in Sydney.
The 21 conference delegates, who met in Sydney, called for further action across Australia to ensure the rights of older people are respected as part of the national response to domestic violence.
The Victorian Government has adopted Royal Commission recommendations including trialling a Victoria Police elder abuse response team and better training for aged care providers.
Our retired members’ delegates also supported strengthening links with the Fair Go For Pensioners coalition in states outside Victoria and to assist union campaigning in marginal seats against the Coalition Government as we approach the federal election.
They adopted the idea of a new minimum Social Wage, which could possibly be set through Fair Work Australia at the same time and at the same level as the Minimum Wage.
The Social Wage is a response to the continuing struggle to ensure age pensions remain pegged to adult average weekly earnings rather than CPI and the falling value of other types of pensions such as single parent and carer to poverty levels.
“The Coalition Government allows the aged pension to hover around the poverty line, but others like Newstart for the unemployed, the disability support pension or single parent pensions have slipped well below,” Mr Cherry said.
“This Coalition Government has also attacked Medicare, but allows banks to get away with ripping off people’s investments and insurance, with too many corporations minimizing their tax.”