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Between the Lines gives an up-to-date snapshot of the issues surrounding older Tasmanians in the community 
In this issue:
Letter from the CEO
Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum
 
Final report from PC set to shake up aged care
More Peer Education

Still Gardening - keeping active with a Garden Mate





Letter from the CEO

Dear Friends,


Just last week we welcomed the announcement that compulsory annual driving tests for drivers over the age of 85 would be abolished.

Older Tasmanians need to remain connected with their community and for many the ability to drive is a major factor in that. We are delighted with the announcement and see it as a really positive step.

We have been strongly opposed to the practice of subjecting members of the public to mandatory assessments based on age for some time as it clearly constituted age discrimination. Staying connected and mobile in later life plays a big part in how people can contribute to society.

The stress that compulsory tests placed on older Tasmanians was unfair and unwarranted. As long as they are safe to drive there is simply no reason they should be subjected to more rigorous testing than anyone else in the community.

We acknowledge that abolishing this testing of older drivers may not be well received by the public given the perception that older drivers are involved in more accidents. But there is simply no evidence to suggest that older drivers are a greater risk than any other age group on Tasmanian roads.
 
In fact the statistics clearly show that fatality rates for drivers aged over 80 are five points less than those aged 17 to 24 years of age.
 
COTA Tas is currently working with other transport providers to ensure the State has adequate public transport in regional areas where older Tasmanians choose not to drive themselves. The research we undertook sought to understand the barriers that older people feel prevent them from using bus and community transport and how they might be overcome.

The recently released Productivity Commission Report Caring for older Australians cited the need to ensure that the wider community recognise that older members of the community still have a positive part to play in shaping the nation.

For some a driver’s licence is actually representative of independence and we need to ensure that older Tasmanians still have that so they are still able to contribute positively to the community.  

Kind regards,
 
Maxine Griffiths AM

CEO 
COTA Tasmania

Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum

Too often the mental health and wellbeing issues of older people are not taken seriously enough.  In discussing their depression or feeling “down” older people often report being told “this is to be expected as you get older”.  COTA and the Mental Health Council of Tasmania (MHCT) dispute this, as feeling down or depressed should not be considered a natural part of ageing.  COTA and MHCT believe greater attention needs to be given to the mental health and wellbeing issues of older people in Tasmania.
 
As part of a longer term strategy to improve community understanding of the mental health and wellbeing issues affecting older Tasmanians, COTA and MHCT initiated a series of informal discussions with older people. COTA Champions met with members of their local communities to discuss the strategies they use when they are feeling down or stressed, the support they seek and the barriers to seeking support. The outcomes of these discussions will be presented at a forum organised by COTA and MHCT during Seniors Week 2011.
 
The forum Older Tasmanians Mental Health and Wellbeing will be held at the Glenorchy Civic Centre on Friday 7 October, coinciding with the end of Seniors Week and the beginning of Mental Health Week. In addition to reporting back on the discussion outcomes, the forum aims to highlight the issues specific to older people, to provide an opportunity for older people with experience of mental health issues to add to community awareness.  The forum will include presentations from Professor David Adams, Tasmania’s Social Inclusion Commissioner, the Hon Michelle O’Byrne, Minister for Health, and the Hon Cassy O’Connor, Minister for Community Development.
 
The findings of the discussions are being brought together in a report by COTA and MHCT and will be used to lobby government and service providers on the need to improve mental health and wellbeing services for older people.
 
The forum is free to older people and $20 for service providers.  To register your interest or find out more details about the forum contact COTA.
 
Final report from PC set to shake up aged care 

In April 2010 the Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to develop detailed options for restructuring Australia’s aged care system to ensure it can meet the challenges it faces in coming decades. The Commission released its Draft Report on 21 January and handed its Final Report to the Government on 28 June, which the Government released on 8 August.

COTA Australia provided a major submission that had a significant impact on the Draft Report, participating in a number of the roundtables held by the Commission in preparation of the report. Overall the Final Report keeps the basic architecture outlined in the Draft Report which COTA Australia generally supported. The Final Report provides some additional detail around some of the proposals and provides significantly more detail around the transition arrangements.

The Government has not yet released its response to the Report. The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing is going to hold a series of consumer forums to talk to older people and their carers about what they want from the reform process, to help inform the development of the Government’s response. COTA Tas will be involved in helping facilitate these sessions. For more information on the Final Report click here.

More Peer Education

COTA has just won a $100,000 grant from the Community Support Levy for the development of a Peer Education Information package to be implemented in southern Tasmania. The program will aim to touch groups of older Tasmanians with information sessions provided by volunteer Peer Educators who will be trained in delivering important information on how older people can identify when they are being financially abused. The sessions will also provide valuable information on suggested strategies to prevent such abuse.


Still Gardening - keeping active with a Garden Mate
 
The successful Still Gardening Program was piloted by COTA Tas and is now managed by the Hobart City Council and funded by Home and Community Care. The program aims to help elderly people and people with disabilities continue living independently as well as continue gardening with regular support from a volunteer Garden Mate. Gardening is a great way to stay physically active and mentally engaged, absorb essential vitamin D from the sunshine, as well as enjoying being outdoors. 

When asked about working with her Garden Mate, one client recently said “she helps me focus and she does keep me motivated – even when it’s cold I go out and get something done before she comes next time. I think to myself she’ll get a nice surprise if I do this!”.

Having company in the garden is a big motivating factor for clients and volunteers in the program. One client recently explained “we have a lovely relationship, really lovely, and I miss her when she goes away”. Another said “I enjoy the company - it’s 99 per cent of the benefit”.

The Still Gardening Program is currently calling for more volunteer Garden Mates. It is a flexible and very rewarding role, tailored to suit the volunteer’s availability, and it might be as little as two hours per month. If you’d like to find out more, phone Lena or Kim on 6236 9349, or email stillgardening@hobartcity.com.au.

 
Maxine Griffiths
Maxine Griffiths
CEO 
COTA Tasmania


'Westella'
181 Elizabeth Street
Hobart 7000

Ph: 62313265 
Fax: 62343515 
 
 
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