Between the Lines gives an up-to-date snapshot of the issues surrounding older Tasmanians in the community 
COTA Tasmania

Photo courtesy of Miriam Herzveld

Vale Professor Gavin Mooney

COTA Tasmania was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic and untimely deaths of Professor Gavin Mooney and his partner Dr Del Weston just before Christmas last year.

Scottish-born Prof Mooney was arguably Australia’s most prolific and best-known health economist and had recently “semi” retired to a rural retreat in Tasmania after a distinguished 35-year career, firstly in the UK then Denmark and Australia.

He came to Tasmania from Perth WA, where he’d been Director of the Social and Public Health Economics Research Group and Professor of Health Economics at Curtin University.
He held an honorary degree in Social Science from the University of Cape Town “as one of the founding fathers of health economics” and he held several honorary and visiting positions at universities in Europe, Africa and Australia.

Gavin was renowned for his strong interest in values and equity in healthcare and in the economics of the social determinants of health, hence his enthusiastic participation in the recent formation of the Social Determinants of Health Network in Tasmania.  

COTA Tasmania CEO Sue Leitch says COTA staff only knew and worked with Gavin for a short time, but were immediately struck by his knowledge and charm and especially, his enthusiasm for his work. Sue first met Gavin at the launch of the Social Determinants of Health Network, where he impressed with his presentation skills, making the quite dry subject of health economics, informative and easy to digest.

The social determinants of health are very relevant to COTA as an organisation representing the interests of older Tasmanians, so Gavin was invited to make a presentation to COTA’s recent Annual General Meeting. His presentation on the social determinants of health was immensely appreciated by the delegates who enjoyed his clear, concise information delivered with his dry Scottish wit.

Sue heard him speak again on this subject on several subsequent occasions, including at the Social Determinants of Health Network forum in December, shortly before his death. “His passionate discussion on inequality revealed his deep knowledge and commitment to the Network and to making his adopted state a better place to live for the disadvantaged in our society,” Sue said.

“All at COTA – the staff and Board members – are deeply saddened by his passing in such tragic circumstances.”

A special public memorial service for Gavin Mooney and his partner Del will be held this Sunday, 20th January, commencing 2.30pm at the Mountain River Community Hall, 263 Mountain River Road.

Assistance for Tasmanian bushfire victims
By now, two weeks after the dreadful bushfires in eastern and southern Tasmania, the status of the relief effort has changed in terms of (for instance) the location of assistance centres and places receiving and distributing donated goods.

It appears that the majority of fire victims would be by now aware of the significant practical assistance and cash benefits available that are being offered to them by government agencies to assist them in the short term.

Rather than publishing a long list of information and service providers here, we refer you to and recommend this link to a state government special webpage, which features all known and relevant services, benefits and grants that would be useful or even essential for the bushfire victims in the Derwent Valley and Tasman and Forestierre Peninsulas. Importantly, it is regularly updated with the latest and most relevant information.

Red Cross is now the official organisation for the receipt of cash and other donations for fire victims. The state government is underwriting the administration costs of the fire relief fund so all cash donations will to go the fire victims. You can donate at any Red Cross centre or online.

If readers are aware of any issues emanating from the recent bushfires, specifically regarding the safety and welfare of older people in the fire-ravaged communities in the leadup to, during and after the fires, which you consider might not be well known at this stage by the relevant authorities, feel free to let us know via email.

Fire safety in the home

The severe bushfires and significant property losses over the past few weeks reminded us here at COTA about fire safety in the home, especially for older people who are often over-represented in statistics relating to house fires caused by accidents, misadventure or carelessness.

Evidence suggests that the majority of house fires could be avoided if precautions were taken and care exercised.

COTA Tasmania’s highly regarded Peer Education sessions have been recognised by Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) as an excellent model to deliver household fire safety information and advice to older Tasmanians. Accordingly, special household fire safety sessions are being jointly developed by

COTA and TFS, to be delivered by trained COTA volunteer Peer Educators. More information on these sessions will be released soon. In the interim you can register your interest as a participant by contacting us here.

Are you ready for digital-only television?

It’s less than three months until the analog television signal will be switched off across Tasmania but it’s not too late for eligible pensioners to take advantage of the Federal Government’s Household Assistance Scheme, which provide practical assistance to help eligible pensioners in Tasmania switch to digital-only free-to-air TV for up to one month after the switch to digital-only signal on 9 April.

The scheme is still available for people in Tasmania who have a working TV, have not yet converted to digital TV and who receive the maximum rate of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment or the Department of Veterans' Affairs Service Pension or Income Support Supplement payment.

The free assistance package for eligible household includes the supply and installation of a set-top box, a demonstration of how to use the equipment, 12 months after care support and equipment warranty, and where necessary, antenna and cable upgrades if the resident owns their home. If required, satellite equipment will be provided. People who think they might be eligible should call the Department of Human Services on 1800 55 64 43 (free call).



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