Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Federal Budget delivers for seniors in Townsville

Townsville’s seniors will benefit from $10 million in new funding in the Federal Budget to help seniors across Australia stay connected to family and friends online and learn new computer skills.

The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin today met with local residents at the Upper Ross Community Centre’s Broadband for Seniors internet kiosk who will benefit from the Gillard Government’s new Keeping Seniors Connected initiative.

“Federal Labor’s Broadband for Seniors program has been a huge success, with about 250,000 older Australians accessing the internet in about 2,000 internet kiosks across the country,” Ms Macklin said.

“The extra support Labor is delivering as part of last week’s Budget means every kiosk can receive a new computer and touchscreen monitor so local seniors can benefit from the very latest in interactive programs and applications.

“The seven internet kiosks in Townsville will also receive a $2,000 grant to boost training and information sessions for seniors, in particular on cyber safety and personal security.”

Broadband for Seniors kiosks are located in community places where seniors get together like senior citizens centres and bowls clubs. The kiosks provide seniors with free access to computers with broadband internet, as well as training in basic computing, internet browsing and email skills from teams of dedicated volunteers.

“The seniors I’ve met today have told me that these kiosks have given them the confidence to get online, learn new skills and stay in touch with their family and friends,” Ms Macklin said.

“Broadband for Seniors is also helping make sure local seniors are ready to take full advantage of the growing benefits of the National Broadband Network.”

As part of the Budget, the Government is also investing more than $112 million over four years in a trial program to help eligible pensioners who want to downsize their home without it immediately affecting their pension.

“We know that as people get older, many want to downsize their home to something that better suits their needs, but they can be worried about the impact on their pension,” Ms Macklin said.

“This trial means eligible pensioners who want to downsize can have some of the excess sale proceeds set aside and exempt from the pension means test for up to ten years.

“This will give local pensioners more options when considering their living arrangements as they get older, and it will help us determine whether a mean test exemption such as this will help reduce some of the pressure on the local housing market.”

Ms Macklin said last week’s Budget built on the Gillard Government’s strong record of delivering for older Australians.

“I’m really proud of what Labor is doing to support pensioners and older residents in Townsville.

“Labor has delivered the biggest increase to the pension in more than a century and changed the indexation system so the pension now keeps pace with the cost of living.

“Since 2009, the maximum rate of the pension has gone up by $207 a fortnight for singles and $236 a fortnight for couples, benefitting more than 18,000 local pensioners.

“Labor will keep working hard to make sure Townsville’s seniors are getting the support they need in retirement.”

The seven Broadband for Seniors Kiosks in the Townsville region are located at:

  • Brooklea Lifestyle Village, 1 Linderman Avenue, Cranbrook
  • Churches of Christ Care, St. James Village, 260 Fulham Road, Heatley
  • North Queensland Training & Community Centre, 15 Lonerganne Street, Garbutt
  • North Queensland Community Services, 1143 Riverway Drive, Rasmussen
  • North Townsville Community Hub, 52 Palm Drive, Deeragun
  • South Townsville Bowls Club, 2 Bell Street, South Townsville
  • Tennis Townsville, 32 Burke Street, North Ward