Australian government responds to Greek Federation’s concerns on pensioners’ living costs

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Australia’s Department of Social Services has responded to a letter by the Federation of Greek Elderly Citizens Clubs of Melbourne and Victoria outlining their concerns around pensioners’ cost of living.

The response – which was sent by the Director of the Age Pension and Payment Rates Policy Section at the Department, Rita Scholl – outlines the Australian Government’s plan to “ensure that pensioners’ living standards are safeguarded by the Age Pension.”

Ms Scholl said that the Australian Government expects to spend around $59 billion on the Age Pension in 2023-24 to assist around 2.6 million eligible Australians.

“On 20 March 2024, the maximum total pension rate for single pensioners increased by $19.60 to $1,116.30 a fortnight or $29,023.80 a year. The maximum rate for pensioner couples combined increased by $29.40 to $1,682.80 a fortnight or $43,752.80 a year,” the response read.

A range of cost of living relief measures, designed to support the living standards of vulnerable Australians, were also outlined in the response. These included:

  • Up to $3 billion under the Energy Bill Relief Fund to eligible households, including pensioners and other income support recipients. In Victoria, the total bill relief is $250 per eligible household.
  • An investment of $5.7 billion over 5 years to strengthen Medicare, including $3.5 billion to triple the bulk billing incentive for the most common General Practitioner consultations including for pensioners, as well as a doubling of the maximum dispensing quantity for over 300 Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines, which lowers out-of-pocket costs.

According to the letter, pensioners can also receive a range of benefits and concessions that increase their economic security, including:

  • assistance for people who rent in the private rental market, through Commonwealth Rent Assistance;
  • the exemption of the principal home from the assets test for homeowners;
  • subsidised prescription medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme;
  • subsidised health care and related products;
  • subsidised aged care; and
  • concessions provided by state and territory governments, which could include subsidised rates, electricity, gas, water, public transport and vehicle registration fees. Concessions offered vary between states.

For more information on concessions in Victoria, people were encouraged to visit services.dffh.vic.gov.au/concessions-and-benefits.

READ MORE: President resigns from Federation of Greek Elderly Citizens Clubs of Victoria

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