Kari Bourne

One third of Australian elderly live in poverty

ONE third of Australian's aged community is struggling to make ends meet as they survive on the poverty line while more and more elderly women are becoming homeless.

That's the damning assessment of the Global AgeWatch Index which ranks 96 countries according to the social and economic wellbeing of older people.

Australia has dropped four places on the index - falling from 13th in 2014 to 17th this year behind Scandinavia, most of Western Europe, Canada and New Zealand.

The index says 33% of Australians aged 60 and over are living in poverty.

It also says low superannuation accumulation and broken careers mean some older women are ending up homeless and broke.

Council on the Ageing Australia chief executive officer Ian Yates said governments needed to take action.

"The fact that many older Australians are stuck for years on the paltry Newstart Allowance before they are eligible for the age pension is also a significant contributor to poverty among older people," Mr Yates said.

"In Australia, older woman are becoming homeless in increasing numbers due to low superannuation accumulation and careers which are broken to take on caring roles."

Mr Yates also called for more age-friendly public transport.

"This is a big problem for many older people who have trouble finding accessible or regular transport," he said.

"We should be seeing older people as a resource, and spending on them as an investment.

"For example, if you spend right in health promotion and illness prevention, and the pension is sufficient, you actually save money in the long term in acute healthcare and aged care."


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