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Sunday, 28 September 2008

Some pensioners may be doing it tough ...

No doubt that pensioners are not at the top of the income distribution charts. The question as to whether they are the most disadvantaged group in Australia is entirely another issue. The lack of willingness by the media to be tactless enough to ask that question is not a contribution to informed debate.

To get one view on the priority needs facing what really is overall a wealthy community it's worth taking a look at the Catholic Church's Social Justice Sunday Statement for 2008.
Who are our sisters and brothers in need?

In a prosperous Australia, we are called to recognise that ‘the needs of the poor are more important than the wants of the rich’. Some particular groups still endure great poverty and inequality. We are again called to hear the voice of the poor and to act with generous hearts.

The statement identifies:
  • Indigenous families and communities
  • Families in distress and the working poor
  • Refugees and Asylum seekers
  • People who are homeless

The pensioners that need priority attention will be those who do not have a home paid off and are dependent on the private rental market. They will need help not so much because they are pensioners but because they are subject to the pressures of the housing market.

If the pensioners are doing it tough those on disability pensions and income support longterm will be doing it even tougher - their rate of payment is significantly lower.

The danger of the focus on the claims of pensioners is that those with even greater needs but with quieter voices will get overlooked.

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