For older Australians, both self-funded retirees and those on the aged pension, this is a worrying time.
We know this particular virus is most dangerous for older people, and a number of measures being introduced by the federal government aim to alleviate some of the burden. Information current as at the 29th of May 2020.
The Department of Health has assembled some fact sheets, including those for residents in aged care facilities, their families, and aged care workers. You can access those here.
Economic Support payments
For aged pensioners, two $750 payments will be paid as part of the Economic Support payments.
Services Australia and the Department of Veterans' Affairs will automatically deliver the first Economic Support payment from 31 March (subject to the passage of legislation), and the second Economic Support payment from 13 July. For more information, see the Department of Social Services’ website.
Withdrawing from superannuation
The federal government has also opened up the possibility for individuals to withdraw superannuation tax-free. While Labor did not stand in the way of this measure, we believe it should only be used as a last resort.
Personally, I’m troubled by this particular measure. If individuals take $20,000 out of their superannuation at a time when the market is in a trough, this could end up costing a young worker more than $50,000 in retirement savings. It would have made much more sense to adopt Bruce Chapman’s proposal for extending income-contingent loans.
Another concern older Australians have voiced to me regards grocery shopping while at risk.
Some Woolworths are also running a Dedicated Shopping Hour for older and vulnerable Australians.
Coles is running a similar Community Hour on weekdays from 7am-8am.
A final initiative is 'click and collect' pre-ordering of items for pick up. Coles has made this service available for Priority Service customers; Woolworths, too, has a Community Pick Up service available to all Australians (subject to demand). Indeed, Bunnings has established a similar service.
Please see the government fact-sheet regarding assistance with foods and meals.
The Department of Social Services has listings for official government food relief partners.
Additionally, please select the 'meals' and 'food co-ops and banks' categories in our Community Supports Map.
If you are aware of other services, please let us know at Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au
Medical support from home
Ordering prescription medications from home
If you need a prescription medication but cannot leave your home, you can have it delivered from your regular pharmacy through the Home Medicines Services.
Each delivery through this service must include at least 1 medication on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Products for symptom relief such as over-the-counter painkillers, tissues and hand sanitizers are not included in the Home Medicines Service unless combined in a single delivery with one or more PBS/RPBS medicines.
There is no cost for you. However, you can receive the service no more than once per month.
Telehealth services can now be bulk-billed for consults over the phone or videoconferencing platforms. Check with your general practitioner regarding their system any out-of-pocket fees.
Your doctor can give you a prescription via telehealth. They create a legal, paper copy and also a digital copy.
For more information, see the Department of Health's website.