The Australian Government is ensuring senior Australians get the services and assistance they need with a $2.5 million investment to extend and expand the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line.
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, said the support line will be extended until 30 June 2021.
“The Government will invest up to $2.5 million so senior Australians can continue to access information about the COVID-19 pandemic and get the support they need,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Many vulnerable senior Australians may not have easy access to the internet or be able to readily access information about COVID-19.
“The support line has proved to be a very beneficial service for senior Australians who continue to face particular risks because of COVID-19, including social isolation and loneliness.
“Being able to pick up the phone and call someone, or receive calls from expert service providers, is proving to be very effective.”
Between 22 April and 23 October 2020, the support line received more than 5000 inbound calls and provided more than 29,000 outbound calls.
The top five reasons for calls included:
- wellbeing checks
- information about COVID-19
- advice to vulnerable people
- travel restrictions
- access to new, or queries about existing, home care services.
The support service is a joint initiative of COTA Australia, Dementia Australia, National Seniors Australia and the Older Persons Advocacy Network. The expansion of the service will also include support from the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC) Alliance.
“We identified the need early on in the COVID-19 pandemic to provide targeted support for vulnerable senior Australians who are at greater risk of isolation, carer stress and elder abuse,” Minister Colbeck said.
“The extension of this valuable service will now include outbound calls to carers of people living with dementia, as well as more specific community supports for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) seniors.
“The Government’s investment in the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line means people have multiple ways to communicate their questions and concerns with trusted community organisations working with senior Australians.”
“The additional services will be established as quickly as possible to ensure all senior Australians, no matter what their circumstances, can access the support they need, when they need it, in a way they prefer.”
Senior Australians who would like information and support are encouraged to contact the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line on 1800 171 866, Monday to Friday between 8:30am to 6pm (except public holidays).