Last week saw the observance of the United Nations Day for the Older Person, which has been set on 1 October since 1990. This year’s theme was “celebrating older human rights champions.” Australia saw a week of activities.
Behind the events, was the understanding that the contributions made by older citizens deserves to be recognised and valued; that the older person should not be thrown on he scrap heap, and their knowledge, experience and skills, should be appreciated as a valuable asset, which contributes to building the future.
Unfortunately, the has been a gradual devaluation of society’s elders. This is not only shown by a tendency to lock them out of participation in society, but also, by the extent of the meanness of the support provided by government and agencies.
For instance, retires deserve and are entitled to be rewarded for the contribution they have made through a lifetime. They should not be subjected to an inadequate housing, poor housing, pressure to return to work, unreasonable health, energy and transport costs. The scandal and human rights abuse, of what too often passes off as nursing homes, is a disgrace. This should not exist in a society that considers itself humane.
In Melbourne, community alliance Fair Go For Pensioners was one of those that took part. Its contributions were a special celebration on Thursday and taking part in Sunday’s celebrations at Federation Square by running a stall and distributing information.
An important new publication, called “Up In The Air: A civil and caring society” was launched at the Thursday event. It deals with the link between the striving for a democratic system of government and justice in the delivery of social services, not only for older people, but for all citizens in need. The erosion of the capacity of people to lead a decent life and have the means to participate in society is a major threat to real democratic rights.
The publication seeks to promote a vision that focuses on eradicating inequality and supports a well connected, sustainable and diverse multicultural society, where treating everybody with respect and dignity, builds a thriving Australian democratic system of government.
Two major features of this vision are the fundamental role of government in the public provision of a wide range of welfare services, and a just taxation system to pay for them.
The timing of this release is important, because, as it is argued within its content, the situation is becoming
so bad that silence is no longer an option. Australia must come up with a new investment policy approach to welfare, to get people back to work, reflect different capacities and provide adequate support for those in need.
Fair Go For Pensioners has presented a list of recommendations to achieve the vision.
Up In The Air will soon be publicly available Keep posted.