SA-BEST welcomes Federal Government intervention in safety rebate scheme for elderly

19 July 2019

SA-BEST today welcomed the Federal Government’s move to keep the life-saving Personal Alert Rebate Scheme (PARS) operating as normal.

However, SA-BEST MLC and Ageing spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, today called on the State Government – in particular the Minister for Human Services, Michelle Lensink - to reverse its “cruel, penny pinching” plans to reduce the annual PARS rebate to monitor the scheme from $250 to $200 per annum.

He said there are widespread fears the livelihoods and safety of thousands of vulnerable elderly South Australians are at risk if the government goes ahead with the funding cut as many pensioners will stop using their devices because they can’t afford the extra $50 cost.

Under changes to the PARS, the SA Government announced that from 1 July, seniors over the age of 75 wishing to apply for the Scheme needed to go through the already complex My Aged Care – which can take up to 18 months to be approved.

Pensioners on Levels 2, 3 and 4 of support would have been illegible.

However, Federal Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, today announced the Scheme will continue as normal for at least the next 12 months with people being able to apply for a personal alert through approved suppliers and/or My Aged Care.

The Scheme has also been expanded to include pensioners receiving Levels 2, 3 & 4 of support.

“This is strong, decisive action by the Federal Government, which SA-BEST welcomes and supports,” Frank said.

“We are also pleased the Federal Government decided to step in after SA-BEST and our Federal Centre Alliance colleagues first raised the matter and wrote to the Federal Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, seeking support,” he said.

“The State Government’s miserly decision has caused unnecessary anguish and stress for thousands of vulnerable elderly South Australians, and it’s now been forced to do an about-turn!

“While the Federal Government’s announcement will please new applicants for the PARS, the cut to the rebate needs to be immediately reversed by the State Government.

“The mean-spirited cost cutting measures is literally putting lives at risk.

“These crucial devices give pensioners aged over 75 - and their families - a sense of security and independence in their own homes.

“The State Government is picking on vulnerable pensioners just to scrounge a few extra dollars. It’s disgraceful.”

The popular PARS provides an annual rebate to up to 10,000 elderly South Australians who are at risk of falls and/or medical emergencies to have their personal alert system – normally a pendant worn on the wrist or around the neck with an alert button to press in the case of an emergency - monitored.

It also provides a rebate of up to $380 for the original purchase and installation of the device.

While the $380 fee for the purchase of the device will continue to be covered for successful applicants, the State Government has slashed 20% from the $250 annual subsidy to monitor the life-saving devices.

Frank said he would write to Ministers Colbeck and Lensink requesting the Scheme be extended to self-funded retirees aged 75 years and over.

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