Question of the Month
This month, we’d like to ask if you, or anyone you know, has ever experienced abuse as an
older person – whether that’s exploitation by people you know (or don’t know) in relation to
money, or physical mistreatment, pressure by relatives or friends to move into aged care or
enter into a granny-flat arrangement, imposed social isolation, harassment, bullying or
scamming (including relationship/dating scams) or being taken advantage of in some way
because you are ageing.
For those with an interest in legal matters affecting older people (eg guardianship and powers
of attorney), COTA will be holding a General Forum on 3 June from 2-4pm in the Hughes
Community Centre, with an expert speaker yet to be confirmed. On 17 June – shortly after
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – COTA will also be bringing together stakeholders to
discuss (and make practical recommendations) about what can be done to prevent abuse of
older people. In advance of this event, we are seeking to document (de-identified) case
studies of people’s experiences of abuse so that we can come to a better understanding of the
issue in the ACT. You can write to us, email me ([email protected]), or participate in
an online survey at .
Thanks to all those who have given COTA feedback so far. As a membership-based,
representative organisation, your views are invaluable to us. We collate your feedback and
provide it either to COTA Australia to incorporate into their policy development and
submissions, or directly to the relevant ACT agencies. Last month, we asked you what your
views were on potential cuts to concessions: you can find what people said here, while
COTA’s submission to the ACT Government’s Review of Concessions is here.
What’s On Around Town
Do you live in the Weston area?
COTA and the Weston Creek Community Council are inviting residents of Weston and
roundabouts to lunch from 11 to 1pm on Saturday 2 May at the Uniting Church Hall, 16
Parkinson Street Weston (right next to the Irish Club). We’d like to hear from you about
how we can make Weston an even better place to live for everyone – older people, young
people, families, parents with kids, people with disabilities, new residents and migrants –
after all, we probably all need and like much the same things. We’ll also be floating a few
new ideas about how to achieve local change. Come along and enjoy a ‘Community Forum
with a Difference’ (the difference? We think you’ll enjoy yourselves).
If, on the other hand, you live in and around Ainslie, we are holding a similar forum for you
(with lunch!) on Saturday 21 May from 11-1pm at All Saints Church, 9-15 Cowper Street
Take charge of pain
Arthritis ACT is running a Take Charge of Pain Course, from 10.30am-14.00pm on Tuesday
19th & 26th May in the Activities Room, Level 2A, Grant Cameron Community Centre, 27
Mulley Street, Holder. The course costs $15 per person and includes lunch. It covers topics
What is pain - difference between acute and chronic pain
Finding ways to reduce pain - pacing, modifying and diversion
Understanding how to make these changes
Using your medications in the best possible ways
For bookings or enquiries please ring Arthritis ACT on 6288 4244 or email
[email protected]
Understanding Trusts and Financial Planning
Planning for someone you are caring for can be confusing but there are solutions. Good
planning can include setting up trusts to ensure that the cared for person is financially
protected during their lifetime. In this CIT SKILL FOR CARERS information session the
Deputy Public Trustee for the ACT will explain why trusts are established and the types of
trusts that can be set up for individuals. The session is on Monday 18 May, from 12 noon2pm, at CIT Woden, Ainsworth St Phillip – and it’s FREE. To register, call 6207 3628 or
email [email protected]
Party at the Shops – Downer and Hughes!
The ACT Government, in partnership with businesses and community organisations, is
putting on the ever-popular ‘Parties at the Shops’ in a suburb near you. Upcoming parties are
at Downer (this Saturday 2 May) and at Hughes (Saturday 9 May). The full program is at – so drop along to your local shops and enjoy the activities!
Festival of Peace
A Chorus of Women’s Festival for Peace is being held from 28 April to 2 May 2015 at the
Albert Hall in Yarralumla. It will have wonderful music including premiere performances of
a new community oratorio called A Passion for Peace by Canberra composer Glenda
Cloughley and another major concert called Songs of Passion and Compassion. There will
also be two forums to explore issues of peace among people and with the environment, and a
day-long workshop co-hosted with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
and a number of other conversations and readings. Look out too for the displays, philosophy
corner and labyrinth. There is also a special for families and children with storytelling, family
concerts, theatre, music-making and children’s choir.
The estival will bring a fresh, life-enhancing perspective to World War I commemorations.
For the full program and ticketing information for the Festival for Peace, please go to or phone 0432 867 017.
New Entertainment Books out (and if you want an early bird discount,
you’d better be quick)
The new Entertainment Book is out now. If you order today, 20% of your membership goes
to Cancer Council ACT. Early bird offers are available till 1 May. For only $60,
Entertainment Memberships are packed with hundreds of up to 50% off and 2-for-1 offers for
the best local restaurants, cafes, attractions, hotel accommodation, travel and much
more! Available as a traditional Entertainment Book -or- Digital Membership on your
smartphone, your Membership gives you over $20,000 worth of valuable offers valid through
to 1 June 2016! To find out more, visit
U3A/COTA BYO Tuesday Lunchtime Forums – a correction
From June to December each year, COTA and U3A jointly run a series of lunchtime forums,
with speakers who are engaging, fascinating and often well-known in their own right. You
can find the program here (sorry, the interim program had a glitch in it, which has now been
fixed). Forums are held in the Hughes Community Centre Hall, at the shops in Wisdom
Street Hughes, and a hearing loop is available. No need to book – just come along on the
U3A is also running a series of half-day seminars, which can be found in the U3A newsletter
(for members) – if you’re not a member, we’ll let you know what’s on as it comes up. The
next one, on 18 May, is on ‘Bee-Keeping –keeping bee hives and the important role of bees
in our gardens’. The speaker is Mr John Grubb, President of the ACT Beekeepers
Association. The seminar will be at Cook Community Hall, 41 Templeton Street Cook,
arrive 9.15 for 9.30, $2 entry (tea provided but you need to bring your own mug and name
Music at Midday
On Monday 1st June 2015 at 11am and 12:30pm, Canberra Theatre Centre in Association
with the Royal Military College is putting on its famous Music at Midday event, featuring the
RMC Band. Entry is by gold coin donation with all proceeds going to the Bosom Buddies
ACT Inc. For further information call Wendy on 6243 5703.
Finding GOLD in the ACT!
The ACT’s Active and Healthy Lifestyle program for Canberra residents over 50 – known as
ACT GOLD or ‘Growing Old and Living Dangerously’ – is now out. If you’d like to find
out the huge range of recreational, sporting and social activities on around Canberra for older
people, call Southside Community Services (note – it’s not just on the southside) on 6126
4700 or go to the website on
Technology and You
Hartley Lifecare is presenting a series of Assistive Technology information workshops for
people with a disability, carers, family members and disability support workers throughout
the ACT and surrounding region. The first workshop is on Wednesday 20th May 2014, from
5:30 pm until 7:00 pm, at Hartley Lifecare Training Room, 6 Hodgson Place, Pearce ACT
2607, at a cost of $30.00 per person (no charge for a person with a disability). The topic is
‘Technology and the NDIS: How can technology help with my goals and aspirations?’,
presented by Ability Technology. The workshop would be useful if you’re preparing an
NDIS plan and want to get some ideas and inspiration about what technology may be helpful.
However, the information is still relevant if you’re not covered by the NDIS. If you’d like to
attend, please contact Reception at Hartley Lifecare on 6282 4411 or email
[email protected]
Hartley also run an Assistive Technology program in partnership with Ability
Technology. Under the program, they conduct one on one Assistive Technology assessments
for people looking to enhance their lives through technology(including communication
options) who need help to get started. If you or someone you know might be interested in
learning more about the Assistive Technology Program or would like to make an
appointment for a One on One assessment, please contact Leonie or Amanda at Hartley
Lifecare on 6282 4411 or email [email protected]
Learn the ukulele..
BCS's fun and friendly ukulele program continues to expand with beginner and continuing
classes now being held on Tuesday and Thursday. The group is open to anyone over the age
of 10 and costs $100 for 8 weeks. You don’t need any previous experience in music. Here's
what term one participants had to say:
"Hoped to just give it a go, learn a few bits and pieces. Exceeded far beyond what I
had anticipated. Learning songs I know made it so much more enjoyable."
"I think it was awesome."
The Beginner Group runs on Tuesdays from 4pm - 5:15pm, from May 5 - June 23, and
Thursdays from 1pm - 2:15pm, from May 7 - June 25 . Makala Ukeleles are available at
Better Music in Phillip for around $42. For further information an enrolments contact BCS
reception on 62640200 or [email protected]
Grief and loss
Canberra Grief Centre will be hosting a FREE grief and loss information evening for
members of the public, on Wednesday 6 May 2015, from 7-9pm, at Griffith Hall, off Stuart
Street, Griffith, ACT. The evening will cover:
What is grief and how can it can affect us
What causes us to grieve the way we do
Understanding the difference between ‘healthy’ grieving and ‘unhealthy’
How we can support ourselves and others who have experienced loss
If you’d like to attend, you can register through the Centre website at , or phone Sonia Fenwick on 0409 966 515 or
Mandy Cox on 0401 344 577.
Inner calm and peace, anyone?
Beginner Meditation classes start next week on Monday, 4th May at 7pm at Tuggeranong
Community Centre and Tuesday, 5th May at 6pm at 25 Alderman Street,
Evatt. Everyone is welcome. Bookings can be made through the Tibetan Buddhist Society
of Canberra's website at under the 'events' tab.
Artists unite in support of Vanuatu
The VanuARTu art auction and exhibition on Thursday 14 May at the Tuggeranong Arts
Centre is set to generate thousands of dollars to help rebuild Vanuatu after the devastation
caused by Cyclone Pam. The list of local and prominent Canberra artists who are generously
donating their works for auction continues to grow and includes Alex Asch, Mariana del
Castillo, Paul Summerfield, Kay Whitney, Ian Robertson, David Hearne, Adele Rae
Cameron, Linzie Ellis, Barak Zelig, Rachel Develin, Fredrika Rose, Melinda Young, Rachel
Rooney, Annika Harding, Barbie Robinson and Trevor Dunbah. 100% of proceeds from the
sales will be forwarded directly to Care Australia. No administration fees or commission will
be taken by TCA.
This is your chance to add some fabulous new works to your art collection and support our
neighbours in the Pacific region. A range of works including paintings, etchings,
photography, sculpture and smaller objects such as jewellery and hand-forged knives will be
up for sale. Put the date in your diary now and join us for drinks and a preview at 5pm on
Thursday 14 May 2015. The VanuARTu exhibition continues in the Tuggeranong Arts
Centre Foyer Gallery until 30 May 2015. Further information about Care and their Cyclone
Pam appeal can be found at
Sustainable House Tour
The next Sustainable House Tour, on Sunday 10 May, will show how a monocrete house can
be improved to stay warm in winter. It has used insulclad (high density polystyrene cladding)
on the outside walls, insulation (batts) in the floor and ceiling, retrofitted double glazing
(Magnetite) to existing windows, used a breeze power whole house fan to draw cool air in
through open windows and remove hot air from the roof space, it has solar panels and a solar
hot water system. For more information, visit
International Permaculture Day
This Sunday, 3 May 2015, is International Permaculture Day and to celebrate Caroola Farm
is having an open day with a range of guest speakers doing short presentations on the hour,
every hour, plus regional produce for sale from a variety of producers. Find out more at .
Let’s Celebrate The Chestnut Season (or at least learn not to trip over on
This Sunday 3 May Slow Food Canberra is celebrating the chestnut season with an event that
covers the cultivation, harvesting and how to cook them (and, we hope, eat them!). Find out
more at .
Bicycle Lovers Action Group (BLAG)
This group’s mission in life is to rescue, restore, renovate, and re-home old, broken,
abandoned, un-loved, or under-used bicycles. If you’ve got an old bike, or you love fixing
them up, visit .
Art Therapy
Ink Brush Art Therapy in Deakin has a limited number of spaces available for a 10 week ‘Art
Journaling for health and wellbeing group’, starting on Monday 4 May 6 pm - 7:45
pm. Participants will get to experiment and create with collage, poetry, creative writing,
stenciling, photography and printmaking within a mindfulness based art therapy framework.
No previous skills are required. The group would particularly suit people suffering from
grief or loss, physical health issues, carers, and those at risk of social isolation. Find out
more here
Potluck dinner
Microboards Canberra is part of a group of families which include a person with a disability,
who are doing things differently. These families aim to build truly included lives for family
members through the mechanisms of circles of support and ‘microboards’. A circle of support
involves a group of people gathering together to help promote and support the goals of the
person with disability. A microboard does the same but has become a a more formal
incorporated association. Members can be friends, neighbours, work colleagues, sports team
members and so on. Members work together with the person with a disability and their family
to find work, build friendships, find a home, find leisure activities and so on. The person
with disability is at the centre of the network.
If you’d like to be involved or to help, the group is having a pot luck dinner on Saturday May
23 from 6pm at 14 Saville Close Melba. The dinner is ‘for those who value real inclusion,
choice and control for people with disabilities and are interested in finding out more about
what we do. Just bring along a plate of food to share. You can read more about what the
group do at
Projects and Programs
Emergency Guide and Grab and Go Kit – translated versions now
This great kit (developed by the ACT Government) provides you with guidance on how
to prepare and act during emergencies. As well as an English version, you can now order
translated versions of the kit in 10 community languages. The Kit includes two parts:
An Emergency Guide that outlines key emergencies that could occur and how you can
prepare for them. This includes how to prepare for emergencies such as earthquakes,
bushfires and storms.
A Grab and Go Booklet that can be used to fill in your details for easy reference
during an emergency. This includes space to record emergency contacts, details of
neighbours and medical information. There are also tear-out information cards for you
to exchange contact details with trusted neighbours.
The information in this Kit will help you in developing an emergency plan for your home and
to have all your key information in one place in case you are required to evacuate. Copies of
the kit are available from Government Shopfronts, by emailing
[email protected], or from the COTA ACT Office in Hughes. If
you would like a translated version of the kit, you can order via the email address above.
Would you like to know about the changes to Home Care from 1st July
Did you know that all Home Care Packages will be delivered under a CDC (Consumer
directed Care) model from July this year? Under CDC, people now have more choice and
control over the services they receive and how they are delivered. COTA Australia has been
funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services (DSS) to help people
understand the changes by delivering free group information sessions to older people in the
community. The sessions are facilitated by trained peer educators who are supported by
COTA and are FREE of charge. Sessions are for one hour and include handouts. If you would
like to book a session for your group or to have a chat about the program please call Ingrid
Pepper (Community Education Manager) on 6282 3777 or email
[email protected]
Help low-income households keep out the cold..
See-Change are looking for volunteers to get involved in the Curtain Retrofit Project,
including in helping to sort/measure/make/install curtains in the homes of people who can’t
afford them. See-Change will be running fortnightly workshops for volunteers, starting next
Saturday 9 May from 10.30am-2.30pm, or if you’d rather sew some curtains at home they
can arrange materials and instructions for you. You can also donate good quality curtains
with backing, or participate if you’re in a low income household and would like some help
keeping out the cold. For more information, see
Call for women with disabilities to have their say!
Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT) warmly invites all women with disabilities in
the ACT & region to a community forum about health and wellbeing, employment and
education, cost of living, housing and poverty, and community participation. The forum runs
from 1:00pm - 4:00pm, on Thursday 14th May 2015, at the Theo Notaras Multicultural
Centre, 2nd Floor, North Building, 180 London Circuit, Canberra City,
Women with Disabilities ACT want to know what's working for you and what isn't, so they
can bring your voices to the ACT community, services and government to make a
difference! Support workers, carers, family & friends are welcome. Refreshments
provided. Hearing loop, live captioning and Auslan interpreting available. Transport
assistance is offered. Please let WWD know your participation requirements when you
RSVP. Inquiries & RSVP by 12 May 2015 to 02 6290 2166 or [email protected]
Access City Hotline
Access City Hotline is a free service helping people, particularly people with a disability, to
remove physical and sensory barriers to access in the ACT Region. The Hotline also provides
information and referral on local services for people with a disability and their carers. For
more information, you can visit the website on, email [email protected] or call them on (02) 6257 3077 (or the Text
Telephone Number: 133 677 & quote 6257 3077).
Budget, Save and Prevent Debt with the FREE CAP Money Course
This money management course teaches people budgeting skills and a simple, cash-based
system that really works! It’s being run on Tuesday 12th, 19th and 26th May, at 7 pm, at Life
Unlimited Church, Charnwood. For more information contact Aart (0434 155 863) or visit
Support for men with prostate cancer and their families
One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 75. Often the disease
has few or no symptoms. The Prostate Cancer Support Group – ACT Region exists to support
men suffering prostate cancer and also to inform men at risk about the disease. You can
access contact information and further details about prostate cancer on the local website at
http://prostate-cancer or via the SHOUT helpline at
6290 1984.
MindVentures is an independent not for profit that offers programs that allow mature-aged
people to combine an active mind with camaraderie and travel within Australia. It’s for
seniors who’re interested in ideas, places and people. If you’d like to find out more, go to
And just for fun…
If you’re feeling electronic, you might like to try Adele Horin’s blog, Coming of Age. For 18
years Adele was the social issues journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald. Now, the blog
explores how the baby boomer generation is meeting the challenge of getting older. This
amusing and well-written blog about growing older covers many issues of interest, such as
the intriguingly titled ‘Life is Better Online’. Adele writes ‘When my mother announced at
80 she’d inherited a computer from a friend, I had mixed feelings. I was proud she’d taken on
the challenge of going online but concerned about the stress and frustration coming her way.
Who hasn’t torn their hair out at a computer glitch, virus, crash or frozen screen? My mother
has many talents but practical and technical skills are not among them.’ To have a look or
sign up, visit .
Policy Round-Up
Last month, COTA ACT made a submission to the ACT Government’s Review of
Concessions, which you can find here. We said that concessions to seniors are very
important in augmenting often very limited incomes (particularly energy, rates and so on) although some of you have noted that not all seniors require concessional treatment. We also
opened discussions with the ACT Government about better palliative care services –
especially support at home – given that it looks like funding to these services might be at risk
in coming years. COTA is continuing to lobby for better equipment in Canberra Hospital to
treat prostate cancer, and we are also researching current services available for older people
with mental health issues. If you would like more information or to give us your views on
any of these issues, please get in touch with Jane at [email protected]
It’s still possible to provide your thoughts about how your neighbourhood could be more agefriendly – just contact us on 6282 3777 for a questionnaire (three questions!), go online at , or visit the blog and leave a comment (you
can be the first!).
Did you know that…
COTA’s E-News is not the only newsletter that tells you what’s happening for seniors in the
For another take on what’s happening around Canberra (including ACT Government public
consultations but lots of other things as well), you can sign up to the Canberra Connect
newsletter at .. A snippet from the
current newsletter is about where you can go to see the most striking streets for autumn
colour – including:
red oaks in La Perouse Street, Red Hill;
ornamental pears and red oaks on the lakeside near the National Library;
claret ash in Atherton Street, Downer;
Chinese pistachios at Garran Shops.
What you said about concessions…
… A large proportion of the aged are 65 years and over, who have retired, receive
concessions to supplement their pensions as compulsory superannuation did not come
into effect until the early 90’s, therefore, within that 25 year period, have not built up
enough to keep up with inflation and rapid wage increase which have occurred during
this period. Now the government is considering giving concessions to people over 60
years of age when they are trying to cut back on the programs for those over 65 years.
Research indicates that wages in the 90’s until now have accelerated faster than the
60’, 70’s 80’s period. Also, a minority of those people who looked forward to
retirement had a superannuation fund in place before superannuation became
compulsory. A large number of aged have health problems, limited funds and rely on
the concessions to exist. If concessions are to become non-existent or limited a large
number of the aged will be forced to limit travel for outings because if they will pay
the full price to travel; own a home which will force them to sell their homes as the
rates will increase .. and if concessions are abolished, increases hardship upon the
vulnerable… Administrators would tell you that families could undertake this task but
fail to acknowledge that either the aged cannot rely on family to assist, nor do they
have families living nearby to accommodate…
I really appreciate the concession I get for my rates. They would be nearly double
without the rebate, and it would hit my budget hard to find the extra nearly $800
pa. My ex-husband lived in the Coffs Harbour area, where there is no concession, and
his rates brought him begging for assistance from his children every year. I would
hate to be reduced to that kind of behaviour. I don’t travel much by bus at this stage
of my life, but I know I will become more dependent on public transport in future, so
at present my free transport is no big deal (but it’s nice!). Once I can no longer drive,
however, that may make the difference between being active socially and not, so I
hope that will not be disbanded. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other
especially important concession I get from the government, but I certainly rate the rate
concession very highly.
I think that seniors concessions have gone too far. For many of us with good super,
our own homes and no dependents, there is more discretionary income in our senior
years than ever before. Subsidies should be for those really in need.
I think the ACT seniors card should continue to be available for all seniors. I think the
cost to fund it is nominal and the ACT government should do so. If the seniors public
transport discounts are abolished for the better off they will just be more likely to
drive private cars they own.
Hopefully the expenditure review will look at the full range of impacts and
implications of the question of rebates, not just a straight line accounting
approach. Rebates give a "quality of life" dimension, making a significant difference
in whether older people can lead a fair and reasonable lifestyle in their "twilight"
years after contributing so much to society over their entire lives. Rather than just
looking at rebate amounts, there are also significant opportunities for the ACT
Government to handle rebates in a more cost effective and efficient way …The
present rebate system seems to be fragmented, with rebates for various areas being
handled independently in "silos" eg rates rebates are handled by one department,
vehicle registration rebates are handled by another, spectacle rebates are handled by
yet another department, and so on. There seems to be little "crossover" of rebate
handling between departments. .. Among the rebates available in the ACT, energy
rebates are the most critical and should not be reduced. The energy rebate has a health
and wellbeing connection - often making the difference with such decisions as "can I
afford a little more heating this winter? - the rebate would help with this.