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
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.