Between the Lines gives an up-to-date snapshot of the issues surrounding older Tasmanians in the community 
COTA Tasmania
COTA is on the move again – but not far!

COTA Tasmania is shifting its headquarters to put focus on better access for staff and visitors. COTA will still be within the grand old Westella building (circa 1835) but instead of occupying the two- storey stables at the rear, we will be in the front, ground floor offices of the main building. From Monday 3 December, visitors can access the COTA offices through the main, front door off Elizabeth Street (reception is first door to the right), or through the rear door of the main building (not atrium) accessed via the passageway off the northern carpark. All contact and address details are unchanged.

Lots of change at COTA!

It’s certainly been a time of renewal and change here at COTA Tasmania these past few months. Our new CEO Sue Leitch started in July and was joined in late August by new, part-time Communications and Events officer, David Rose. He replaced Suzanne Crowley who has taken a position in with UNSW in Sydney. David is a former RACT Marketing and Public Affairs Manager, and recently worked in a similar role with Cancer Council Tasmania.

Former Tourism Tasmania senior manager Debra Lewis joined COTA in late September as the new Operations Manager, just in time to become immersed in Seniors Week!  She replaced Jane Jeppson who moved to a similar role at Lifeline.

The newest recruit is Soula Houndalas who is COTA’s new Project Officer for Conversations With Our Community, with some responsibility also for policy development. Soula has a background in community development and research. Soula assumes that role from Linda Jamieson who has accepted the newly created position of COTA Policy & Research Officer, made possible with funding from The Department of Premier and Cabinet and theInclusive Ageing Strategy 2012-2014. Linda’s new role will primarily be to contribute to this strategy from COTA’s perspective.

Seniors Week 2012 – bigger and better!

Just because an event is bigger doesn’t necessarily make it better. But Seniors Weeks 2012 was not only considerably bigger, with a record 270 events arranged by 180 organisations and individuals - it was better than ever.

But don’t just take our word for it. Take the word of several hundred patrons who attended Seniors Week events around the state who completed a written survey, as well as many of the organisers who completed an online survey giving their perspective of the program.

COTA invites patrons and organisers who have not formally commented to still do so. Contact or call (03) 62313 265 and we will assist you.

We are still receiving and compiling the survey responses but it was very evident that many participants managed to get to several events over the week and would have done more if not for transport or event clash issues.  Although COTA is the program facilitator and doesn’t organise any events, we will earnestly be addressing all comments, suggestions and complaints so that future Seniors Week programs are always better, if not necessarily bigger!

One of the most frequent comments made was that “we made lots of new friends”. That in itself is a terrific outcome for Seniors Week.Senior Week activities ranged from singalongs to information sessions on contemporary issues; indoor and outdoor physical exercise activities and, at the extreme end, Laser Skirmish was held for the first time in Launceston attracting more than 30 enthusiastic seniors who, from all accounts, had a great time not acting their ages - as it should be!

COTA sincerely thanks the many professional and volunteer organisations that arranged and conducted Seniors Week events, and also acknowledges the wonderful corporate and government supporters:  the Tasmanian Government, Metro, MerseyLink, Phoenix Coaches, The Senior (Tasmania) magazine and beyondblue.

Seniors mobile phone a great Christmas gift

A very practical Christmas gift for seniors who struggle with using mobile phones would be the official COTA-endorsed mobile phone.

Available in black and white, the COTA phone has many features that seniors would appreciate, including extra large display, keypad buttons three times larger than normal, speed dial, hands-free ;loudspeaker, FM radio, one-touch SOS emergency switch and bright LED inbuilt torch.

It carries a 12 month warranty and is unlocked for any 2G /GSM phone networks. It just needs a compatible SIM card. It costs $99 for COTA members (plus p&h) and $129 (plus p&h) for non-members.

As well as discounted phones, the modestly priced annual COTA membership provides a number of other financial benefits on a range of services in addition to voting rights and a bi-monthly hardcopy national magazine.

For more membership information or to purchase the COTA phone contact COTA member services on 1300 1400 50 (local call cost) or visit

Being ready for digital-only television 

Analog television signals will be switched off across Tasmania on 9 April 2013 and the Australian Government is providing practical assistance to help eligible pensioners in Tasmania switch to digital-only free-to-air TV through the Household Assistance Scheme

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.

Although people were encouraged to apply by 9 November so installations could comfortably be completed before the switchover and households not lose access to free-to-air TV, the Scheme will remain open until one month after switchover.

The scheme provides an entire package of assistance and is free to eligible households. Assistance 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.   

The Department of Human Services has written to people inviting them to test their eligibility by calling 1800 55 64 43. People who think they might be eligible, but haven't received a letter should call the Department of Human Services on 1800 55 64 43.

Know the signs of stroke

One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime. Every six seconds, someone, somewhere, regardless of age or gender will die from a stroke.

Many strokes are preventable so the National Stroke Foundation is urging all Australians to follow these 6 steps to reduce the risk of stroke.
  1. Know your personal risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol.
  2. Be physically active and exercise regularly.
  3. Avoid obesity by keeping to a healthy diet.
  4. Limit alcohol consumption.
  5. Avoid cigarette smoke. If you smoke, seek help to stop now.
  6. Learn to recognise the warning signs of stroke and act FAST

F.A.S.T is an easy way to remember and recognise the signs of stroke:

  • Face – Has their mouth drooped?
  • Arms – Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 immediately.

For more information visit or call StrokeLine 1800 787 653.

Innovative COTA Tasmania pilot program helps prevent elder abuse

COTA Tasmania has developed an innovative Peer Education program for the prevention of elder financial abuse in Tasmania, which compliments the State Government’s strategy for protecting older Tasmanians from abuse.

The program, called You’re Worth It, was funded by the Tasmanian Government’s Community Support Levy and has been pilot tested in southern Tasmania over the past 12 months.

You’re Worth It was developed after recognition that financial abuse of older people was occurring in Tasmania - and COTA wanted to be proactive in helping to prevent it.

It is wrong for another person to misappropriate or take control of an older person’s finances, valuables and/or property, in a manner that benefits someone other than the older person. 
This is financial abuse, and studies show incidences of abuse at between 3% and 5% of the population, so COTA’s primary goal is the prevention of this selfish and insidious practice by raising awareness and empowering seniors. 

As part of the pilot phase, thirteen Peer Educators have been trained by COTA Tasmania to deliver You’re Worth It presentations, and we hope to continue to expand the program and share it with other states from next year.

The COTA You’re Worth It program complements the recent launch of a statewideElder Abuse Helpline operated by Advocacy Tasmania, and a community education campaign devised and delivered by the Tasmanian Government.

The Helpline number is 1800 441 169. 


TasCOSS conducted a very successful two-day conference recently in Hobart, its first in several years.  Among the many quality speakers who addressed the delegates was COTA’s new Policy & Research Officer, Linda Jamieson.

Linda spoke about her former role as the COTA project officer for Conversations with the Community and gave a wonderfully informative snapshot about the popular, southern-based program and how COTA plans to continue to refine it.

COTA also ran a trade stand at the conference and COTA staff Jane Bowman and Natalie Lo enjoyed speaking with delegates and enlightening them about the ever expanding range of COTA programs and activities.  


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