State Government putting elderly lives at risk by slashing personal alert rebate scheme, SA-BEST fears

19 June 2019

The livelihoods and safety of thousands of vulnerable elderly South Australians are at risk by another cruel funding cut by the “penny pinching” State Government, SA-BEST fears.

SA-BEST MLC and Ageing spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, revealed today the government is about to make a range of changes to its life-saving Personal Alert Systems Rebate Scheme (PARS) – including cutting the amount of the rebate by 20 per cent.

The popular scheme currently provides an annual rebate of up to $250 to an estimated 7000 older 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.

Under a range of changes being introduced by the State Government on 1 July, seniors over the age of 75 will now have to apply through the already cumbersome My Aged Care to get 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.

The changes mean many seniors who get higher levels of support from My Aged Care will now miss out on PARS altogether while others will be left to pay a $50 annual gap for the cost of monitoring the devices.

“The mean-spirited cost cutting measure by the Marshall Government literally puts at risk the lives of hundreds of elderly and vulnerable South Australians,” Frank said.

“This is cruel, heartless and needless. These crucial devices give pensioners aged over 75 - and their families - a sense of security and independence in their own homes,” he said.

“Premier Marshall, Treasurer Lucas and the Minister for Human Services, Michelle Lensink, should hang their heads in shame.

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

SA-BEST MLC and Health spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said many elderly citizens with PARS will struggle to find the $50 a year for their units as many have limited funds and little or no ability to generate more income.

“The whole objective of the Scheme is to allow our elderly citizens to live independently in their own homes for longer,” Connie said.

“The fear is now that many of older South Australians will abandon their alerts due entirely to their inability to find the extra $50 a year to pay for the gap,” she said.

“It is just disgraceful and goes to show just how heartless this government is.”

The State Government has been subsidising personal alert systems for vulnerable senior citizens still living in their homes for a number of years.

It provides security, independence and peace of mind not only for those who have the alert system, but also their loved ones who can be contacted in the event of any incidents in which the alert is triggered, and ambulances are called.

Frank said government-approved suppliers of the Personal Alert Systems Rebate Scheme are concerned those who can’t afford the extra costs involved in having their systems monitored will simply turn off their devices.

They are also frustrated they were given only two weeks’ notice about the changes

“These front-line providers tell me that many elderly citizens just won’t be able to afford to keep having their systems monitored so will end up with a non-functioning product that will no longer get them emergency help in time of need,” Frank said.

“This goes against everything the Scheme was designed for,” he said.

“SA-BEST implores the government to reverse its heartless decision and restore the full subsidy – the lives of hundreds of vulnerable elderly South Australians rely on it.”

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