On 20 March the Federal Government tabled a report from the Senate Inquiry into the Cost of Living for Older Australians. Of particular interest to our community is the 12th recommendation which recommends that the Government amend The Aged Care Act, Commonwealth supported superannuation schemes, taxation measures and other relevant Commonwealth legislation and mechanisms to remove any actual or potential discrimination against same-sex couples.

The report specifically states that these changes should be made to ensure that same-sex couples experience the same opportunities as heterosexual couples in achieving quality of life in retirement, meeting cost of living pressures and enjoying retirement benefits.

Gay and lesbian culture, like the mainstream community, tends to focus on youth, but it’s important to remember that our community includes people of all ages.

Indeed, older lesbians and gay men are perhaps most in need of urgent reform to areas of financial and workplace discrimination. When it comes to caring for your partner in old age and feeling financially secure in the event of their death, there are still no guarantees.

Arthur from NSW recently used our website to tell his story to the Attorney-General:

I am 75, my partner is 79. We have lived together for 40 years. I have no superannuation because it was not available to me. My partner has a Comsuper pension. While we both worked, we lived on my wages so that my partner could make the maximum contributions to his super fund, so the super belongs to both of us, and is our main household income. However, if my partner dies first, I will not receive the 2/3 reversionary pension which a heterosexual de facto partner would receive. At our age this is a matter of urgency. Please act now.

Every day these laws continue to discriminate against same-sex couples of all ages. In what should be some of the best years being together, older lesbian and gay couples continue to live in uncertainty about their future. The Rudd government must act as soon as possible to give our relationships the recognition they deserve and financial security into the future.

Visit www.glrl.org.au/58 and take action now.

A copy of the full report can be found at www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/clac_ctte/older_austs_living_costs/report/report.pdf.

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