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The Benevolent Society has shown that we’re in it for the long-haul when it comes to achieving social change, but we’ve learnt that the political realm achievements that have for a generation seemed impossible can be delivered seemingly within the blink of an eye.

With that in mind, and in the lead up to the 2019 Federal election, it’s important to celebrate the recent announcement that the Australian Labor Party has promised to introduce a Pensioner Dental Plan if they are successful at the election. We’ve been campaigning for this policy as part of the Fix Pension Poverty campaign, and it represents a shift in the ALP’s policy platform.

The Pensioner Dental Plan would represent a major step towards the goal of affordable dental care for all who need it, under a universal scheme like Medicare, and begins to address the dental crisis amongst older Australians, many of whom have gone without access to care because of the cost their whole lives. Credit where it’s due.

The ultimate success will depend on whether the Prime Minister can be convinced to match the promise, or ultimately up to the voters in the election. 

The Benevolent Society’s approach to advocacy is to work with partners and build coalitions around policy changes that align with our goals as an organisation. We are currently involved in four campaigns in this way. The Benevolent Society Election Statement outlines these campaigns and how they fit with our service delivery and the communities that we work alongside.

Fix Pension Poverty was the first of the above campaigns to get started and was the best prepared to really hit the ground early in this election cycle. For nearly two years we’ve been visiting communities in Central Queensland, Northern NSW and Adelaide to talk about the campaign and build our supporter base. We entered into a partnership with National Seniors Australia which has mobilised the National Seniors branches in support of the campaign, and brought in the considerable media profile and activity of Chief Advocate Ian Henschke to the campaign.

The first success of the Fix Pension poverty has been the promise by the Australian Labor Party to providing $1000 in dental care every two years to Age Pension recipients and people holding a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. We will keep campaigning to get the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to also commit his Government to this policy, and to take up the other aims, including addressing the lack of affordable rental housing. Being stuck in private rent is the biggest indicator of poverty for older Australians.

You can check out the Fix Pension Poverty campaign at www.fixpensionpoverty.org.au

You can also check out the EveryAGE Counts campaign, a broader coalition of organisations and eminent individuals to address ageing and age based discrimination, at www.everyagecounts.org.au.

The Every Child campaign is bringing together a national alliance of 20+ organisations across the child and family and other relevant sectors to build a movement in support of children, young people and their families getting the right support at the right time. That campaign will be launched soon, but you can keep an eye out by registering your interest here.

We are a proud member of Alliance 20, to shape the NDIS for a future that enable choice, ensures value, minimises complexity and delivers better outcomes for people receiving NDIS support.

The Benevolent Society has always campaigned for social change, alongside the services that we provide to the community. Just as our service delivery has changed over the years, so has our approach to advocacy. We’re proud to still be making that contribution over 200 years since we were founded.