Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site


Growing old in Australia is a difficult business

  • 07 October 2015

I recently had a significant birthday, and was back visiting Melbourne, my native city. I don't feel aged or decrepit, but there's no doubt I've reached the point at which a person's fancy heavily turns to thoughts of the future, such as it might be. Discounted, at any rate, with time dwindling fast.

My children are concerned about my old age, I think, and are probably wondering whether I'm going to spend it in Greece or Australia. I always thought I'd return to Melbourne, but at present I'm not so sure. As a young child I lived with my grandparents, and therefore assumed that the concept of three-generation living was natural; now half my life has been lived in Greece, so I am used to the idea that old people live and die at home in the bosom of the family.

Not that I want this for myself. But nor do I want too much of the struggle and regret Disraeli famously mentioned.

So during my return I made it my business to learn a little about changes being made in the area and practice of aged care: I am struck by the resemblance between people in power in Australia, and those deciding policy in Brussels during the long years of the Greek krisi and concomitant austerity.

Both groups seem to be run by accountants manqué, whose chief interest is in cutting costs. The human cost does not seem to be a consideration.

The internet inevitably has a large amount of material about the latest complicated developments in Australian aged care reform. I had read only a smallish amount of this material when I felt a rant coming on. What has happened to the general mindset? To compassion? What has happened to the English language?

Well, I know the dehumanising rot began to set in a long time ago. I have a vision of George Orwell sitting on a cloud and wringing his hands in renewed horror, for now the business model and associated language appears to have taken over the world.

Internet articles bristle with words like gateway, package, providers, key stakeholders, consumer empowered models, and expanded service finders. The reader is also informed that there is to be an exciting shift from a menu style aged care system ... 

But some people are not excited at all. Charmaine Crowe, senior advisor to the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants' Association of NSW, says aged care has become more expensive