Charlie Symons, vice-president of the Mackay and District Senior Citizens Association.
Charlie Symons, vice-president of the Mackay and District Senior Citizens Association. Zizi Averill

'It can't be something that's budgeted for three years'

WHILE Charlie Symons has the luxury of owning his own home, not all pensioners are so lucky.

The vice-president of the Mackay and District Senior Citizens Association welcomed the funding announced in the State Budget for the senior community.

But increasing rent, energy and transportation costs were still a big burden for some in the region.

The toll was also emotional.

Saturday was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Minister for Seniors Coralee O'Rourke said older Queensland residents would be able to access a range of concessions on their electricity, rates, water and gas bills in the next financial year's budget.

While he was appreciative of this, MrSymons said the subsidies were not keeping up with the inflation of energy costs.

"You're in a Catch-22 situation, if the electricity goes up your concession pays the increase rather than decreasing your overall bill for the year."

Mr Symons said many pensioners in Mackay were making cutbacks, leading to a concerning rise in mental health issues.

Mrs O'Rourke said calls to the Elder Abuse Helpline had increased more than 17 per cent in 2017-18.

While Mr Symons believed this move was a fantastic step, the distribution of these resources was not logical for the demographic.

He said with so many of these support resources online, the senior community often struggled to obtain the relevant information. Support needed to be instantaneous.

"As people get older they have needed to cut out the little things, such as going to movies. They rely on sitting at home watching television and it's not helping their social (life)," Mr Symons said.

"I think seniors are getting left more in their homes because of the rising costs. We're talking about financial and elder abuse and that does affect a lot of seniors' mental health.

"People with mental health need to be seen now, they don't need to make an appointment and come back in a week's time.

"It can't be something that's budgeted for three years, it needs to be an ongoing thing."


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