Poverty-stricken pensioners plead for help
LIMSORE pensioners Judy and Noel Flynn only eat one meal a day and worry about the cost of a phone call every time they pick up the phone.
“I was brought up at a time when we had to make things go around, so we can eek things out if we have to,” Mrs Flynn said.
“Every time I roast a chicken, I keep the bones to make a broth.”
The Flynns are among tens of thousands of welfare recipients doing it tough while they wait for the Federal Government's tax review, due in February, to see if they will get an increase.
A submission to the Government by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has recommended a $2 billion welfare relief package, which would include a 30 per cent increase in rent assistance and utility allowance rates, as well as a 100 per cent increase to pharmaceutical benefits.
“That would definitely help,” Mrs Flynn said. “It would probably wipe out the surcharge on expensive medicines, and between us we take a lot of medication. A little bit extra anywhere would help.”
The ACOSS recommendations would help all aged and service pensioners, disability support pensioners, carers, single parents and the unemployed. The council also wants a simpler social security system.
The Flynns currently get a combined aged pension of $459.70 a fortnight. Mrs Flynn also gets an allowance of $106 per fortnight because she is a carer for Noel, who has a collapsed heart valve, while several strokes have caused short-term memory loss. He relies on his wife to do most things for him.
Their son Danny, 43, also requires around-the-clock help after he suffered a brain injury in a motorcycle accident. He gets a carer five hours a day. However, Mrs Flynn receives no extra allowance for the costs involved in caring for him.
Mrs Flynn said a great deal of their money went on taxi fares because their old car rusted out and they were not able to buy a new one.
Ironically, Noel is eligible for taxi vouchers but is rarely able to use them. Mrs Flynn said she would like to see the taxi vouchers system extended to carers so they weren't out of pocket every time they had to go shopping for the person they were caring for.