Minister addresses seniors' matters in Ballina

SENIORS are an important part of Ballina Shire's population, with the median age in the shire at 45 years, while the median age in NSW and across Australia is only 37.

Also, 23% of all payments done by Centrelink in the Ballina Shire are for aged pensioners.

This is why seniors living in the Ballina Shire were the focus of a meeting of community organisations with Federal Minister for Human services, Senator Kim Carr.

Minister Carr's portfolio includes services such as Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency.

Federal Minister for Page Janelle Saffin invited Senator Carr to Ballina for the roundtable discussion, to meet representatives of organisations which provide services to local seniors.

Minister Carr said that there was no limit on the type of questions people asked during this meeting, from the structure of application forms for benefits, to how do people get access to websites, and how clear our communication is.

In the Ballina region, Centrelink processes 395 queries and applications a day, while Medicare deals daily with 182 clients in the Ballina area.

Minister Carr said that his departments were providing more services and had reduced waiting times on telephone services by two thirds.

Ms Saffin said that the conversation touched some general feedback from the Ballina population regarding their forms.

"I'd like to see some changes to forms for people to apply (to benefits), particularly carers of people with mental illness," she said.

"There has been some movement on that within the department regarding that already."

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