What will happen to the nearly 850,000 Australian seniors currently benefiting from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) should it disappear? There will certainly be long waiting lists, fewer services, and loneliness.

A safety net, CHSP makes it possible for seniors to go directly to services and receive subsidised help without waiting lists or red tape. CHSP is the reason COA can offer you programs like Kosher Meals on Wheels, meals in our Centre, and so many fun activities, at such low prices. But the government’s current plan is to take CHSP away!

I decided COA needs to step up and become a leader by advocating for continued CHSP funding. The Torah teaches us to be a light unto the nations. COA Sydney is a Jewish organisation and that means we value helping those in need. If we can help Jewish seniors, that’s great and meets our mission… but if we can help all seniors across Australia, that’s a true kiddush hashem.

Never before have members of all CHSP stakeholder groups sat down together. Recently, together with Waverley Councillor Leon Goltsman, I successfully facilitated a working group, getting everyone at the table to brainstorm creative solutions.

With a better than expected turnout of over thirty, participants in the Working Group ranged from directors of peak bodies to CHSP clients, from service provider CEOs to seniors’ rights advocates, from local health districts to political policymakers. The event was supported by local bastions Roosters’ Easts Leagues, Kwik Kopy Bondi, and the Bondi Chamber of Commerce, ensuring seniors know their community is a safe space.

The result was lively discussion leading to unexpected ideas. Could we increase aged care services and cut taxes at the same time? Does providing government funding to for-profit businesses waste taxpayer dollars?

The CHSP Working Group will reconvene several times over the next year in multiple locations around Australia before submitting viable and productive policy proposals to the Minister for Ageing.

Share your thoughts with Rachel Tanny at [email protected]