(Australian Associated Press)
A third of older Australians are living in poverty, a new global report says.
Australia has slipped four places, to 17th spot, on an annual global list that ranks the economic and social wellbeing of people aged 60 and over in 96 countries.
The 2015 Global AgeWatch Index puts Australia’s old age poverty rate at 33 per cent.
That’s slightly down on the 2014 figure of 35.5 per cent, but it’s clear income security remains a serious issue for Australia.
By comparison, Switzerland’s figure was 16 per cent – helping it take pole position as the best place for older people to live based on key indicators including income security and health.
The index is the work of HelpAge International, a global movement advocating for the rights of older people.
The results come as no surprise to Australia’s Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA), which says poverty is a reality of life for many on the age pension, or the lesser Newstart allowance if they’re not yet 65.
“Our pension is well below the 50 per cent mark of the average wage here in Australia, and that’s why we’ve got such a high score in this report,” CPSA senior advisor Charmaine Crowe tells AAP.
“It’s even worse for older people trying to find work later in life while living on Newstart, which is at least $150 a week less than the single age pension.”
Ms Crowe said the government must ensure the base rate of the age pension can provide recipients with the basic essentials in life.
“The government also needs to look at the rate of Newstart, particularly if they are looking at increasing the age pension age from 65 up to 70.”
CPSA vigorously opposes any increase in the pension age and believes it will drive even more people into poverty.
The AgeWatch Index put the life expectancy of Australians at the age of 60 at 25 years, compared with a global average of 20.8 years.