OUR society’s most vulnerable are being left out in the cold, as household bills sky rocket and pensioners are being forced to turn off their heaters in the middle of winter.
Meanwhile, the government’s offered elderly residents a $3-a-week increase to their pension.
Wonthaggi’s Anne Glen says today’s pension is inadequate and not keeping pace with the rapid rise in our everyday cost of living.
And it’s creating undue stress for pensioners.
Anne’s worked in hospitably all her life, raised three children, and owned and ran the Grantville bakery until 13 years ago when she chose to retire.
Since her retirement, Anne has lived her day-to-day life in Wonthaggi and survived off the pension.
In the past five years, Anne has felt the nitty gritty of living on a simple budget; never eating out, preparing meals in bulk and barely travelling out of town.
“Of a night time I pop on my heater to take the chill out of the air and then rug up with a blanket to save on my electricity costs,” said Anne.
Unfortunately, it’s the new standard of living for many pensioners.
“I have received a rise in my pension, but this amount was only enough for a loaf of bread,” said Anne.
Three dollars per week is the difference that Anne received, even though her water, electricity, petrol and food expenses have increased dramatically, and her living standards remain the same.
Anne’s rent has just been increased by $10 per week and her pension and rental assistance will not cover this extra cost.
“I have to avoid visiting my family as much as I’d like because the cost of travelling to Melbourne is just too much.”
Anne contacted Centrelink regarding her rent increase to see if they could increase her rental assistance.
But Anne was told her rate was capped and she was ineligible to receive any further payments.
“How are we as pensioners supposed to live comfortably, eat well and maintain a sustainable lifestyle when the prices around us just keep on rising?”
Living in a small town with a background in hospitality, Anne is managing the best she can with her budget, but she often sees others struggling to maintain a healthy diet.
Anne’s offered tips for others trying to get by, including:
• Avoid eating out;
• Avoid frozen processed meals – overpriced with no nutrients;
• Only cook fresh produce at home to maximise your nutrients;
• Cook pastas, casseroles and stews in bulk for weekly meals; and
• Don’t focus on convenience, too many foods contain high sugar levels.