Sign the petition: Nursing Home Residents Deserve Better Access to Mental Health Care

Is the mental health of older Australians living in care any less important than for everyone else? 

Over 175,000 older Australians living in residential aged care are ineligible to access Medicare-funded mental health treatment through the Better Access to Mental Health Care program.

Please sign the petition calling on the new Health Minister to step in and fix it:

The new Minister for Health needs to make this an urgent and early priority. We are calling on him to take it to Cabinet where the government must agree to reverse this so that nursing home residents have the same access to mental health services as everyone else.

Older Australians and their families are calling for him to support this; and the mental health community are also championing the need for change.

Our frailest older Australians deserve the best care we can offer.


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Join the COTA ACT Policy Committee

COTA ACT is looking for enthusiastic, engaged individuals to join our Policy Committee. We seek candidates with a range of skills.
Policy Committee members need to be motivated to share COTA ACT's values and aims about promoting seniors’ needs & rights in the ACT community. We seek to empower ACT seniors to play a greater role in influencing their lifestyles and future wellbeing as ACT residents. We want to deliver high quality services that are tailored to individuals' needs throughout the ageing spectrum. A good policy & research base is essential for this to happen. We're also working to diversify COTA ACT to effectively represent all areas of the ageing journey. Important populations for COTA ACT include people over 50, those that experience marginalisation in our community, those that have specific needs or simply those who require a stronger voice.


Concession travel on the NSW Opal public transport network

Concession travel on the NSW Opal public transport network is now a whole lot easier for ACT Seniors Card holders.

From Monday 31 October 2016, Transport Canberra has partnered with Transport NSW to automatically validate ACT seniors' eligibility for concession travel in NSW. Transport NSW has also removed the 60 day expiry on ACT seniors' Gold Opal Cards.

“COTA ACT has been working with Transport Canberra for close to a year to make applying for a NSW Opal Card easier for Seniors Card holders in the ACT. The new process is just one example of how COTA ACT partners with government to improve services for seniors in the ACT.

“Seniors with an early ACT Seniors Card (ie one that has six numbers, as opposed to nine in the current cards) will need to apply for a card upgrade in order to apply for an Opal card. New, replacement and upgrade ACT Seniors Cards are available from the COTA ACT office in Hughes, at ACT Libraries and Access Canberra shopfronts,” 

If you are over 60, a permanent resident of the ACT and working 20 hours or less each week, you are eligible for an ACT Seniors Card and a Gold Opal card, giving you concession travel capped at $2.50 a day* across Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands.

*Excludes Sydney Airport Station access fee

Download the media release here.


OPAL card registration not working?
  • How many numbers are on your Seniors Card? The new system requires your card to have nine numbers to be processed. If you have an older card with five numbers you will need to upgrade your card.
  • When did you apply for your Seniors Card? It takes up to 7 business days for the Transport Canberra and NSW Opal Card databases to sync details so you can apply for an Opal card.
If you have confirmed all of this and your registration is not processing you will need to confirm your card validity (see section above 'Why is my Seniors / MyWay Card not working": This can be done through the COTA ACT Office on 6282 3777.




Assistance for elderly voters and voters with disabilities

Elections ACT provides assistance to elderly voters and voters with disabilities in a number of ways.

At the polling place on Election Day

If you can go to a polling place, you can nominate someone to help you vote, or a polling official can help you. If someone can drive you to the polling place, a polling official can bring voting material out to you in the car.

Polling staff are trained to be aware of voters who may require extra assistance, including voters who may need to be “fast tracked´ through the queue, or provided with a chair if standing to queue is not an option.

Postal Voting

Someone can help you vote by post. They can assist you with applying for a postal vote or they can apply for a postal vote on your behalf if you authorise them to do so. Once the ballot material arrives, they can also assist you to complete the voting process if you wish. You may be able to register as a general postal voter. You will then automatically be sent postal ballot material for each federal and ACT election.

If you can't sign your name on postal voting material, someone can sign on your behalf as a witness to your mark.

For further information please visit:

General Postal Voter (GPV) status

General Postal Voter (GPV) status is available if you have a physical disability which prevents you from signing your name or if you live at home and you are too ill or infirm to travel to a polling place. General Postal Voters automatically receive a postal vote for every election, federal and ACT Legislative Assembly. You can ask someone to help you complete the form to apply and to complete the ballot paper when you receive it.

For further information please visit:

Mobile Voting

Mobile polling teams from Elections ACT visit many of the nursing homes and hospitals in the ACT in the week before Election Day to allow residents and patients the opportunity to vote.

For further information please visit:

Electronic Voting

Electronic voting allows voters who are blind or have visual impairment to vote independently. Elections ACT provides electronic voting at all pre-poll voting centres for three weeks before the election, for the period 27 September to 14 October 2016, and at these same polling places on polling day.

Magnifying sheets, for use with ballot papers, will be available on request at all polling places.


All ACT polling places are assessed for disability access. The accessibility of each polling place is indicated on the list of polling places. This list is available from this website:, in a brochure sent to all households, and in The Canberra Times the day before polling day and polling day itself. Polling places are also equipped with a voting screen for use by voters who are in a wheelchair. Polling staff can assist voters if help is asked for.

Information Guide

The information brochures that are mailed out to all ACT households provide information on enrolment and voting including key dates, electorate maps, instructions for voting formally, pre-poll and polling place locations and hours, and assistance for voters who can’t vote on polling day. These brochures, once distributed, are also available as audio files from the Elections ACT website at and ACT Public Libraries to assist voters with a hearing disability.


COTA ACT Annual General Meeting

The COTA ACT Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held on Wednesday 26 October 2016.
11am, followed by lunch at the Hughes Community Centre.
Members and Friends of COTA ACT are welcome.
For catering purposes please RSVP by Monday 24 October to p: 6282 377 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


2017 Seniors Expo

Get on Board for Seniors Week 2017 

ACT Seniors Week Logo 2017

The 2017 Seniors Expo is fast approaching!

In 2016, the Seniors Expo exhibition's maxed out well before the Expo. This year we are opening up exhibition bookings early to give organisations the ability to plan in advance.
The Seniors Week Expo is one of the highlights of the Seniors Week calendar, attracting more than 2,000 seniors who connect with the 150+ exhibitors. To be held on Thursday 23 March 2017, Seniors Week Expo, at Exhibition Park Canberra, the Expo will enable you to target the largest, growing sector of consumers in Australia. 
Download our Seniors_Week_Expo_registration_2017.pdf to book your spot now. For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Can't make it to the Expo?
No problem! There are a number of ways you can get involved.

ACT Seniors Week is an annual celebration featuring hundreds of free events held across the ACT by government, community and commercial organisations.

The objectives of Seniors Week are:
  • Encourage older people to live healthy an active lifestyles all year round.
  • Demonstrate that older age can be a time of learning and adventure.
  • Celebrate older people and their continuing contribution to family, friends, workplaces and communities, and across generations



Spotlight on Elder Abuse

The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight the often silent suffering of older people. The Day was officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011.

This is the one day of the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some defenceless older people. As former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said at the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002: “We will all grow old one day — if we have that luck.”

In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. It is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world.

Even today, elder abuse continues to be a taboo, mostly underestimated and ignored by societies across the world. Evidence is accumulating, however, to indicate that elder abuse is an important public health and societal problem.


The ACT Budget 2016

Many older residents of the ACT will find it more difficult to make ends meet following the announcement of tougher eligibility rules for concessions and rebates in the 2016/17 budget.

Handed down on Tuesday by Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr, the budget tightens the eligibility age of ACT Seniors Card holders which will increase to 65 years from 60 years at present.

This means that from 1 July 2017, Seniors Card eligibility will increase to 61 years, then rise by one year every two years until 2025.

The budget also contained an overhaul of concessions.

From 1 July 2017, the energy and utility concession and the water and sewerage rebate will be combined into one concession.

Homeowners will see a reduction in their utilities benefit, with the $850 yearly concession to home owners cut to a maximum of $600 a year, in line with the benefit paid to renters.

As for general rates, around 3,000 households classed as ‘uncapped’, will have their rebates frozen at $700 from 1 July 2016, the same level as the highest rebate available under the ‘capped’ scheme.

Rates will also rise by 4.5 per cent from 1 July 2016 and then by 7 per cent a year from 2017/18.

Rate payers will also be levied $30 to help fund a domestic violence prevention program.

Not only will many people be faced with higher charges and lower rebates, some will also have to wait longer to access benefits, such as those attached to the Seniors Card.

This could be even more difficult if they are also faced with rates rises on their properties.

The extra charges will make it harder for many older people to make ends meet, particularly if they are on low, fixed incomes. 2017/fact-sheets/concessions


Accessible ACTION

Did you know that if you have a regular requirement for a wheelchair accessible bus on your route, you can contact ACTION or ring them on 131710 to register your request.  Where possible ACTION will try to meet this request. If ACTION is not able to meet this request immediately it will try to take your needs into account with future network planning.


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  • ACT Seniors Cards
  • The Seniors Information Line
  • Referrals to community organisations
  • Services for older people and their carers
  • Social Groups & Support Groups


Subscribe to the COTA ACT Newsletter to stay up-to date with all our latest news and events.


Council on the Ageing (ACT)
Hughes Community Centre
Wisdom Street Hughes ACT 2605
PO Box 5566 Hughes ACT 2605
Telephone: 02 6282 3777
Fax: 02 6285 3422
Contact Us 
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