February 25 - March 2, 2024: Issue 615

COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian residential aged care facilities 

February 16, 2024
As at 8:00 am 15 February 2024 there are 1,852 active COVID-19 cases in 262 active outbreaks in residential aged care facilities across Australia. There have been 114 new outbreaks, 17 new resident deaths and 1,696 combined new resident and staff cases reported since 8 February 2024. 

Vaccination in residential aged care facilities
People living in residential aged care are a high priority for the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Older age remains the biggest risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease. Vaccination offers added protection to help reduce the risk of severe illness or hospitalisation of aged care residents.

The Department is working with both the aged care and primary care sectors to ensure residents have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. It continues to target support for residential aged care facilities to arrange COVID-19 vaccinations with local primary care providers such as GPs, community pharmacists and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

As at 14 February 2024*:
• 69.9% of aged care residents have received a booster dose since 1 January 2023.
• 66.8k (36.2%) of aged care residents received a booster dose in the last 6 months.
• 3,384 aged care residents received a vaccine dose in the last week.
*An updated methodology has been implemented (resulting in an increase in total residents and vaccination numbers).

Aged care COVID-19 booster doses (data as at 14 February 2024): NSW
  • Residents vaccinated: 22k 
  • % of residents vaccinated: 37.1%

HERstory exhibition: Remembering Australia’s Military Women

Women have long played a significant role in Australian military service, from serving as nurses in the Boer War, to the formation of the women’s auxiliary forces during the Second World War and their current roles on the front lines.

The HERstory: Remembering Australia’s Military Women exhibition is artist Carla Edwards' personal thank you to the women who have served in the Australian Defence Force. 

The exhibition at the Anzac Memorial in Sydney's Hyde Park features 24 women from New South Wales whose military service spans from 1942 up to the present day. 

The women served, in the Air Force, Army and Navy as well as the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service, Australian Women's Army Service, Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force, Women's Royal Australian Air Force, Women's Royal Australian Army Corps and the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service. Their stories range from WWII through to serving in the Middle East and East Timor.

Jan-Maree Ball OAM [Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN)] who has featured in past Issues of PON for her work in establishing Aussie Hero Quilts, and taking part in Avalon Beach RSL Sub Branch Services, features as one of the women in this exhibition.

Carla started this project in 2022 with a request to photograph seven ex-service women on the NSW Central Coast. The overwhelmingly positive response to this initiative prompted Carla to broaden the reach. Fourteen months later, Carla has now driven 20,000 kilometres and interviewed and photographed 93 women across five states and one territory. 

The exhibition is located in the Memorial’s Auditorium on Lower Ground level. The Memorial is open every day, 9 am to 5 pm. Please note that access to the exhibition is dependent on the Auditorium’s availability, so you are to call the Memorial in advance on (02) 8262 2900.

The exhibition closes on 1 April; entry is free. Find out more on the Memorial's website

Below Avalon Beach RSL Sub Branchs' 75th celebrations included a three-course dinner and a band 'Dazed and Confused', along with a very special presentation of a hand made quilt and laundry bag being presented to Sub Branch Member Skye Smith by Jan-Maree Ball, founder of Aussie Heroes Quilts.

New fact sheet for Hearing Services Program providers

The Department of Health and Aged Care have published a fact sheet for Hearing Service Program providers that contains answers for questions about service delivery under the program. Please check this publication before emailing the Dept. with an enquiry.

The fact sheet will help providers meet requirements under the Hearing Services Program, but it is not a substitute for independent legal advice. 

Legislation and the service provider contract take precedence if there is any ambiguity or inconsistency between this fact sheet and the:
  • Hearing Services Administration Act 1997
  • Hearing Services Program (Voucher) Instrument 2019
  • Schedule of service items and fees
  • service provider contract.

Avalon Beach Historical Society: March 2024 Meeting

Our first meeting of the year will be on TUESDAY 12 MARCH and will be held in the Annexe (old scout hall) in the north-western corner of Dunbar Park.

It will start at the usual 8pm and this time we will be stepping outside our ‘comfort zone’ (but only for a short distance!) to Palm Beach.

A new member of our Society, but an early resident of Palm Beach, DAVID ELFICK, the owner of the Palladium on Ocean Road, will be our guest speaker.

David has owned the building for 50 years and seen it through some fascinating times.
After it began as a very popular dance hall in the 1930s, for some years it helped finance the Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club. Later in its long life it served as a café, a restaurant, the Palm Beach Film Club, a film set and then home to the long-lived surfing magazine ‘TRACKS’. 

As usual we will supplement David’s talk with photos from different eras including some interior photos as well.

We hope you’ll join us for what should be a super night.

Guests of members are very welcome and also to stay for supper afterwards.

Geoff Searl OAM
President ABHS

Local seniors Festival events 2024

The local Seniors Festival celebrates and recognises seniors for the role they play and the contributions they make to our local community. The official Festival theme for 2024 is ‘Reach Beyond'.

The Northern Beaches Festival will run from Monday 11 March to Thursday 28 March.

Council has put together a webpage listing all local events. 

As part of the Festival Program, Council will be coordinating two expos to showcase local seniors groups on:
  • Wednesday 13 March, 10.30am to 1.30pm – Forestville Memorial Hall and Forestville Seniors Centre
  • Friday 22 March, 1pm to 4pm – Newport Community Centre
There are a LOT more events listed at the link above.

Celebrate Seniors Festival - March 11-24

LUNCH SPECIALS in Glasshouse Grill at Pittwater RSL
Salmon Linguine or Creamy Coconut Beef Curry + Glass of house white or red wine.. $15*
Offer only available Monday to Thursday each week.

*T&Cs apply. Members price. 150ml glass wine. Either lunch special on offer can be purchased without wine for $12. Offer only available Monday to Thursday each week from March 11-24 with the exception of special events and public holidays. Pittwater practises the RSA.

Computer Pals for Seniors at Narrabeen: what is AI?

Save the date: 20th March 2024
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The growth of artificial intelligence is already changing the world, just as the internet did twenty years ago. The ChatGPT AI system released last year represented a new level in computer intelligence. It has generated both excitement and concern. 

John Cameron a 50-year veteran in the computer industry will discuss what ChatGPT can and can't do, how it can help you, and how to use it safely. John is a member of Computer Pals for Seniors Turramurra and we are delighted that he has agreed to share his knowledge of this new technology with us so that we can safely learn how to use and incorporate it into our daily lives.

The one-hour session will be held at 1pm at The Lakeview Hall in the Tramshed Community Centre, Narrabeen. It is open to all that are interested in understanding our brave new world. Light refreshments will be served after the presentation.

As numbers are limited, please email bookingscompalsnb@gmail.com to reserve a seat Due to us being a not-for-profit organisation a gold coin donation would be gratefully appreciated.

Dr. Scamps offering free Anti-scam seminars

In 2023, losses to scams exceeded $4.5 billion, causing misery and financial hardship to thousands of people including hundreds on the Northern Beaches. The perpetrators of these crimes masquerade as your bank, the Tax Office, phone companies, or postal delivery services – to name a few.

Scammers deliberately target older people, the vulnerable and people who are not as savvy with digital communications.

“These scammers are without scruples,” said Dr Sophie Scamps, Federal MP for Mackellar.

“That’s why I want to help the people of Mackellar fight back against them, by knowing what to do when they are contacted by these people.”

Nearly 20% of reports in NSW were by people 65 and over, followed by the 55-64 age group (12.2%) and 45-54 age group (10.7%). There are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Dr Scamps will host a free seminar on scams presented by staff from the Australian Competition and Consumer commission’s Scam.

In person event on March 14th: 10.30am-12pm
Ted Blackwood Community Centre, Jacksons Rd & Boondah Rd, Warriewood.

Online presentation on April 10th: 3.30pm to 5pm
To find out more please visit: www.sophiescamps.com.au/events

The scams awareness presentations will provide practical guidance to assist people to identify and avoid scams and stay safe online. The presenter will share valuable information on where to seek help and support when recovering from a scam.

It’s also an opportunity for attendees to share their scam stories with their peers. 
We all need to be vigilant and help each other to avoid scams. If you have an unusual phone call, text or email, stop! Hang up. Do not click on the link or provide information. Seek advice from a friend or relative

Navalny dies in prison − but his blueprint for anti-Putin activism will live on

The legacy of Alexei Navalny lives on. Ian Langsdon/AFP via Getty Images
Regina Smyth, Indiana University

Long lines of Russians endured subzero temperatures in January 2024 to demand that anti-Ukraine war candidate Boris Nadezhdin be allowed to run in the forthcoming presidential election. It was protest by petition – a tactic that reflects the legacy of Alexei Navalny, the longtime Russian pro-democracy campaigner. Authorities say Navalny, a persistent thorn in the side of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died in prison on Feb. 16, 2024.

For more than a decade, Navalny fought Russian authoritarianism at the ballot box and on the streets as the most recognizable face of anti-Putinism, filtering support to candidates brave enough to stand against the Kremlin’s wishes.

Often opposition does not translate into electoral success. Nadezhdin supporters did not expect that their man could actually defeat Putin in the vote scheduled for March 20, 2024. Given how tightly the Kremlin controls politics in Russia, the result of the presidential election is a foregone conclusion.

But for many Russians, the opportunity to support Nadezhdin’s candidacy was the only legal means they had to communicate their opposition to Putin and the war. The fact that authorities ultimately barred Nadezhdin from participating suggests that the Kremlin remains cautious about any candidate who punctures official narratives of a nation united behind Putin’s war in Ukraine.

That effort to protest the election seems all the more poignant following Navalny’s death. It reflected the heart of a strategy that Navalny developed over more than a decade and that I have written about since 2011.

The movement remains

Navalny understood that opposition in Russia was about exposing the corruption in Putin’s party, United Russia; shining a light on electoral manipulation; and alerting the world to growing political violence.

Navalny highlighted the very real opposition to Putin and authoritarian rule that exists in Russia despite attempts to hide it from the world.

To achieve these goals, team Navalny – and it is important to remember that while Navalny the man is dead, the movement he sparked remains – repeatedly used elections to make the opposition visible and spark political debate.

Navalny emerged as a political force in 2011, when he kicked off a large national protest movement ahead of the 2012 parliamentary election by labeling Putin’s United Russia the “Party of Crooks and Thieves.” He held contests to create memes to illustrate the slogan and mobilized voters who did not support Putin’s party.

A protester wearing a hat stands in front of a sign in Russian that translates to 'We did not vote for crooks and thieves!'
Opposition activists in 2011 declare, ‘We did not vote for crooks and thieves!’ Valery Titievsky/AFP via Getty Images

Putin inevitably won the election, with the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer mission commenting that due to irregularities and abuses the winner “was never in doubt.”

But nonetheless, Navalny’s efforts meant that a new opposition was in place and ready to take to the streets to fight election fraud.

Getting out of the electoral ‘ghetto’

Despite his arrest and conviction on fraud charges in 2013, Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow that year. In the campaign, he innovated electoral politics, recruiting young volunteers who met voters on the streets and in their apartment blocks.

Navalny won almost 30% of the vote – double that expected – and claimed that the only reason Putin’s hand-picked candidate, Sergei Sobyanin, had got above the 50% needed to secure a first-round victory was due to a falsified vote.

Navalny later articulated the real success, as he saw it, in an interview with fellow opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza: “We have shown that ordinary people – with no administrative resources, no corporate sponsors, no public relations gurus – can unite and achieve results at the ballot box,” he said. “We have shown that we are no longer confined to a 3% electoral ‘ghetto.’”

Navalny concluded: “For me, the most important result of this campaign is the return of real politics to Russia.”

During that 2013 campaign, my research team interviewed Navalny activists and observed the work in campaign headquarters.

These interviews underscored Navalny’s relationship with the people. Many of the volunteers rejected the idea that they were working for him. Instead, they were volunteering because they admired Navalny’s tactics. They liked his political style. They wanted change in Russia.

Navalny brought Russians alienated by Russian politics together and empowered them. As one campaign volunteer interviewed in our study argued, “We all were frightened before the first protest and even left a will before we joined the movement. But it was not a mob. There were people like us. The feeling we had in Navalny’s office was the feeling of being with people like me.”

Through the next decade, Navalny and his team continued to return political competition to Russia’s politics. They built local organizations that attracted support and found some success in Siberian cities Tomsk and Novosibirsk, despite the endless obstacles the Kremlin placed in their way.

Return from exile

The culmination of these efforts is a system Navalny developed in 2018 called Smart Voting. Through an online tool, the Navalny team encourages Russians to support any reform-minded candidates in elections and in particular directs voters to the candidate most likely to beat Putin’s United Russia party.

Research by Russian scholars Mikhail Turchenko and Grigorii Golosov shows that the tool has had a very significant effect on voters and increasing turnout, opposition votes and popular attention on elections.

Navalny’s efforts seemingly irked the Russian state and may have been the impetus of an assassination attempt against him by Russia’s domestic security agency, known as the FSB, in 2020.

Navalny survived Novichok poisoning only because international pressure forced the regime to allow him to be airlifted to Germany for treatment. During his recovery, Navalny used the attack on him to further his political activism and convey the regime’s growing brutality. He famously interviewed his would-be assassin to uncover the details of the operation.

Navalny’s return to Russia under threat of arrest in February 2021 kicked off the largest street protests – in support of the opposition leader – since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

These protests inspired a new generation of activists. They also marked new levels of police brutality against pro-democracy demonstrators in the streets and in the years since.

Handing on the baton

Since 2022, I have led a research team that has interviewed Russians who left the country in opposition to the war in Ukraine. Many participated in the anti-war protests of late February and early March 2022 and point to Navalny’s return to Russia as the origin of their own political engagement and activism.

As one respondent argued: “My civic position began to emerge. All this was close to Navalny, his movement, and his encouragement to notice something, to pay attention … I began to go to rallies, and became much more interested and aware of politics.”

While Navalny languished in prison camps following his arrest on charges of violating parole during his recovery in Germany, many of these activists in exile continued to operate outside of Russia, our research partners have found.

They support Ukrainian refugees and war efforts and participate in tracking down children who have been taken to Russia. They are active in anti-war demonstrations and support each other in exile.

This new generation of Russian activists – whether those in exile advocating for change or those risking their well-being in Russia to support anti-war candidates – is Navalny’s legacy, and I believe it is powerful.

Before his death, Navalny spoke directly to the generation of activists he inspired: “Listen, I’ve got something very obvious to tell you. You’re not allowed to give up. If they decide to kill me, it means that we are incredibly strong.”The Conversation

Regina Smyth, Professor of Political Science, Indiana University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Alexei Navalny had a vision of a democratic Russia. That terrified Vladimir Putin to the core

Robert Horvath, La Trobe University

Alexei Navalny was a giant figure in Russian politics. No other individual rivalled the threat he posed to the Putin regime. His death in an Arctic labour camp is a blow to all those who dreamed he might emerge as the leader of a future democratic Russia.

What made Navalny so important was his decision to become an anti-corruption crusader in 2008. Using shareholder activism and his popular blog, he shone a spotlight on the corruption schemes that enabled officials to steal billions from state-run corporations.

His breakthrough came in 2011, when he proposed the strategy of voting for any party but President Vladimir Putin’s “party of crooks and thieves” in the Duma (parliament) elections. Faced with a collapse of support, the regime resorted to widespread election fraud. The result was months of pro-democracy protests.

Putin regained control through a mix of concessions and repression, but the crisis signalled Navalny’s emergence as the dominant figure in Russia’s democratic movement.

Despite being convicted on trumped-up embezzlement charges, he was allowed to run in Moscow’s mayoral elections in 2013. In a clearly unfair contest, which included police harassment and hostile media coverage, he won 27% of the vote.

Perseverance in the face of worsening attacks

The authorities learned from this mistake. Never again would Navalny be allowed to compete in elections. What the Kremlin failed to stop was his creation of a national movement around the Foundation for the Struggle Against Corruption (FBK), which he had founded in 2011 with a team of brilliant young activists.

During the ensuing decade, FBK transformed our understanding of the nature of Putin’s kleptocracy. Its open-source investigations shattered the reputations of numerous regime officials, security functionaries and regime propagandists.

One of the most important was a 2017 exposé of the network of charities that funded the palaces and yachts of then-premier Dmitry Medvedev. Viewed 46 million times on YouTube, it triggered protests across Russia.

Exposé accusing Dmitry Medvedev of corruption.

No less significant was Navalny’s contribution to the methods of pro-democracy activism. To exploit the regime’s dependence on heavily manipulated elections, he developed a strategy called “intelligent voting”. The basic idea was to encourage people to vote for the candidates who had the best chance of defeating Putin’s United Russia party. The result was a series of setbacks for United Russia in 2019 regional elections.

One measure of Navalny’s impact was the intensifying repression directed against him. As prosecutors tried to paralyse him with a series of implausible criminal cases, they also pursued his family. His younger brother Oleg served three and a half years in a labour camp on bogus charges.

This judicial persecution was compounded by the violence of the regime’s proxies. Two months after exposing Medvedev’s corruption, Navalny was nearly blinded by a Kremlin-backed gang of vigilantes, who sprayed his face with a noxious blend of chemicals.

More serious was the deployment of a death squad from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), which had kept Navalny under surveillance since 2017. The use of the nerve agent Novichok to poison Navalny during a trip to the Siberian city of Tomsk in August 2020 was clearly intended to end his challenge to Putin’s rule.

Instead it precipitated the “Navalny crisis”, a succession of events that shook the regime’s foundations. The story of Navalny’s survival – and confirmation that he had been poisoned with Novichok – focused international attention on the Putin regime’s criminality.

Any lingering doubts about state involvement in his poisoning were dispelled by Navalny’s collaboration with Bellingcat, an investigative journalism organisation, to identify the suspects and deceive one of them into revealing how they poisoned him.

The damage was magnified by Navalny’s decision to confront Putin’s personal corruption. In a powerful two-hour documentary film, A Palace for Putin, Navalny chronicled the obsessive greed that had transformed an obscure KGB officer into one of the world’s most notorious kleptocrats.

With over 129 million views on YouTube alone, the film shattered the dictator’s carefully constructed image as the incarnation of traditional virtues.

A Palace for Putin.

‘We will fill up the jails and police vans’

It is difficult to exaggerate the impact of the “Navalny crisis” on Putin, a dictator terrified of the prospect of popular revolution. No longer was he courted by Western leaders. US President Joe Biden began his term in office in 2021 by endorsing an interviewer’s description of Putin as a “killer”.

To contain the domestic fallout, Putin unleashed a crackdown that began with Navalny’s 2021 arrest on his return to Moscow from Germany, where had been recovering from the Novichok poisoning. On the international stage, Putin secured a summit with Biden by staging a massive deployment of military force on the Ukrainian border, a rehearsal for the following year’s invasion.

The Kremlin’s trolling factories also tried to destroy Navalny’s reputation with a smear campaign. Within weeks of Navalny’s imprisonment, Amnesty International rescinded his status as a “prisoner of conscience” on the basis of allegations about hate speech. The evidence was some ugly statements made by Navalny as an inexperienced politician in the mid-2000s, when he was trying to build an anti-Putin alliance of democrats and nationalists.

What his detractors ignored was Navalny’s own evolution into a critic of ethnonationalist prejudices. In a speech to a nationalist rally in 2011, he had challenged his listeners to empathise with people in the Muslim-majority republics of Russia’s northern Caucasus region.

This divergence from the nationalist mainstream was accentuated by Putin’s conflict with Ukraine. After the invasion of Crimea in March 2014, Navalny denounced the “imperialist annexation” as a cynical effort to distract the masses from corruption.

Eight years later, while languishing in prison, he condemned Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, exhorting his compatriots to take to the streets, saying:

If, to prevent war, we need to fill up the jails and police vans, we will fill up the jails and police vans.

Later that year, he argued a post-Putin Russia needed an end to the concentration of power in the Kremlin and the creation of a parliamentary republic as “the only way to stop the endless cycle of imperial authoritarianism”.

Navalny’s tragedy is that he never had a chance to convert the moral authority he amassed during years as a dissident into political power. Like Charles de Gaulle in France and Nelson Mandela in South Africa, he might have become a redemptive leader, leading his people from war and tyranny to the promised land of a freer society.

Instead, he has left his compatriots the example of a brave, principled and thoughtful man, who sacrificed his life for the cause of democracy and peace. That is his enduring legacy. The Conversation

Robert Horvath, Senior lecturer, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How long does back pain last? And how can learning about pain increase the chance of recovery?

Sarah Wallwork, University of South Australia and Lorimer Moseley, University of South Australia

Back pain is common. One in thirteen people have it right now and worldwide a staggering 619 million people will have it this year.

Chronic pain, of which back pain is the most common, is the world’s most disabling health problem. Its economic impact dwarfs other health conditions.

If you get back pain, how long will it take to go away? We scoured the scientific literature to find out. We found data on almost 20,000 people, from 95 different studies and split them into three groups:

  • acute – those with back pain that started less than six weeks ago
  • subacute – where it started between six and 12 weeks ago
  • chronic – where it started between three months and one year ago.

We found 70%–95% of people with acute back pain were likely to recover within six months. This dropped to 40%–70% for subacute back pain and to 12%–16% for chronic back pain.

Clinical guidelines point to graded return to activity and pain education under the guidance of a health professional as the best ways to promote recovery. Yet these effective interventions are underfunded and hard to access.

More pain doesn’t mean a more serious injury

Most acute back pain episodes are not caused by serious injury or disease.

There are rare exceptions, which is why it’s wise to see your doctor or physio, who can check for signs and symptoms that warrant further investigation. But unless you have been in a significant accident or sustained a large blow, you are unlikely to have caused much damage to your spine.

Factory worker deep-breathes with a sore back
Your doctor or physio can rule out serious damage. DG fotostock/Shutterstock

Even very minor back injuries can be brutally painful. This is, in part, because of how we are made. If you think of your spinal cord as a very precious asset (which it is), worthy of great protection (which it is), a bit like the crown jewels, then what would be the best way to keep it safe? Lots of protection and a highly sensitive alarm system.

The spinal cord is protected by strong bones, thick ligaments, powerful muscles and a highly effective alarm system (your nervous system). This alarm system can trigger pain that is so unpleasant that you cannot possibly think of, let alone do, anything other than seek care or avoid movement.

The messy truth is that when pain persists, the pain system becomes more sensitive, so a widening array of things contribute to pain. This pain system hypersensitivity is a result of neuroplasticity – your nervous system is becoming better at making pain.

Reduce your chance of lasting pain

Whether or not your pain resolves is not determined by the extent of injury to your back. We don’t know all the factors involved, but we do know there are things that you can do to reduce chronic back pain:

  • understand how pain really works. This will involve intentionally learning about modern pain science and care. It will be difficult but rewarding. It will help you work out what you can do to change your pain

  • reduce your pain system sensitivity. With guidance, patience and persistence, you can learn how to gradually retrain your pain system back towards normal.

How to reduce your pain sensitivity and learn about pain

Learning about “how pain works” provides the most sustainable improvements in chronic back pain. Programs that combine pain education with graded brain and body exercises (gradual increases in movement) can reduce pain system sensitivity and help you return to the life you want.

Physio helps patient use an exercise strap
Some programs combine education with gradual increases in movement. Halfpoint/Shutterstock

These programs have been in development for years, but high-quality clinical trials are now emerging and it’s good news: they show most people with chronic back pain improve and many completely recover.

But most clinicians aren’t equipped to deliver these effective programs – good pain education is not taught in most medical and health training degrees. Many patients still receive ineffective and often risky and expensive treatments, or keep seeking temporary pain relief, hoping for a cure.

When health professionals don’t have adequate pain education training, they can deliver bad pain education, which leaves patients feeling like they’ve just been told it’s all in their head.

Community-driven not-for-profit organisations such as Pain Revolution are training health professionals to be good pain educators and raising awareness among the general public about the modern science of pain and the best treatments. Pain Revolution has partnered with dozens of health services and community agencies to train more than 80 local pain educators and supported them to bring greater understanding and improved care to their colleagues and community.

But a broader system-wide approach, with government, industry and philanthropic support, is needed to expand these programs and fund good pain education. To solve the massive problem of chronic back pain, effective interventions need to be part of standard care, not as a last resort after years of increasing pain, suffering and disability.The Conversation

Sarah Wallwork, Post-doctoral Researcher, University of South Australia and Lorimer Moseley, Professor of Clinical Neurosciences and Foundation Chair in Physiotherapy, University of South Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Pittwater-Narrabeen Parkinson’s Support Group

The purpose of our group is to support seniors (55yrs +) living with Parkinson’s, their carers, relatives and those who have lost a partner to Parkinson’s, who live on the northern beaches of Sydney.

This support Group has been meeting for around 30 years on the Northern Beaches. Our meetings aim to help reduce the social isolation, and increase community connectedness for our members. Through guest speakers, discussions, and group activities, our meetings will support and promote mental health, healthy lifestyles and well-being.

Our Facebook webpage will be used to store resources and links, and provide another way to safely keep in touch, for those who want to use Facebook. We also have a website that is regularly updated https://wheresdot.wixsite.com/nbpdsupportgroup

We meet regularly and due to Covid we have been meeting at Jamieson Park, The Esplanade, Narrabeen.

Give Dot a call for more information: 0418 640 086 and join our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1063258404504502

Concession car parking at NSW Health public hospitals

Patients and carers may be eligible for concession rates on parking at NSW Health public hospitals. 

To be eligible you need to be:
  • requiring treatment over an extended period
  • attending hospital more than twice a week (including carers of long term patients who visit frequently). 
  • ongoing cancer treatment
  • treatment more than twice weekly
  • daily dressing changes
  • cardiac rehabilitation or health promotion classes
Concessions are also available for holders of a: 
  • Transport for NSW Mobility Parking Scheme permit
  • Pensioner Concession Card
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs Gold Card
  • Health Care Card.
Hospitals provide communication to patients, carers and visitors about the availability of concessional car parking rates, this includes:
  • clearly displaying and publicising concessional rates
  • streamlining the concession application process with designated points of access
  • validating concessional parking for the duration of a course of treatment. 
For detailed information on eligibility and concession fees, visit NSW Health webpage:

Learn Something New: Australia MOOCs And Free Online Courses

There is a full range of everything your heart, mind and body wants to learn more about, presented and conducted by Australia's best universities.

Hotline to report food quality in aged care now live

Australians now have a simple and efficient way to report food concerns in aged care, with the launch of a dedicated Food, Nutrition and Dining Unit hotline at the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

The hotline is active and callers will have access to experts in the areas of food, nutrition, and dining, including dietitians and speech pathologists.

A good meal with good nutrition is crucial to quality of life for everyone but especially older people.

The Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline is also available to aged care providers to access food and nutrition advice, support and education to deliver improved food, nutrition and dining experiences for older people in their care.

Older people, their families and carers, providers and aged care workers can call the Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline on 1800 844 044.

The hotline builds on the Federal Government’s grant to the Maggie Beer Foundation to build the capability of aged care chefs and cooks working in aged care.

The first free online training modules are now available: https://lms.maggiebeerfoundation.org.au/.

Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells stated;

“What older Australians consume and their dining experience has a significant impact on their overall wellbeing.

“Australians were shocked when the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found that 68% of aged care residents were malnourished or at risk of malnourishment on the Coalition’s watch.
“I can't be clear enough, food must be a priority in aged care.

“The Food, Nutrition and Dining Unit hotline is another important step in the Albanese Government’s mission to make sure older people have access to nourishing food that improves their quality of life.”

 COTA – NSW - cotansw.com.au


The Council on the Ageing NSW (COTA NSW) is the peak organisation for people over 50 in our state. We’re an independent, non-partisan, consumer-based non-government organisation. We work with politicians, policy makers, and service providers as well as media representatives to make sure your views are heard and your needs are met. COTA NSW works to empower and engage people over 50. For decades, we’ve shaped the policies and programs that change lives.

Since our beginning in 1956, COTA NSW has introduced policies and programs that make a real difference to peoples’ lives. We have proud record, having created: ■Meals on Wheels, ■Retirement Village Residents Association, ■Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association, ■Seniors Clubs, ■Seniors Information Service, ■OM:NI – Older Men: New Ideas, ■Grandfriends, ■Grandparents, Relatives and Kinship Care Alliance, ■Medication Management for Older People, and the ■Mature Employment Line

Profile: Avalon Soccer Club
Avalon Soccer Club is an amateur club situated at the northern end of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. As a club we pride ourselves on our friendly, family club environment. The club is comprised of over a thousand players aged from 5 to 70 who enjoy playing the beautiful game at a variety of levels and is entirely run by a group of dedicated volunteers. 

MWP Care

We've been supporting the community for over 50 years! 
Our Neighbour Aid staff and volunteers are able to provide crucial support to vulnerable elderly residents during the lockdown. 

Help with going to the supermarket or shopping on your behalf from a list as well as transport to medical appointments. Please get in touch via our website for more information 

MWP Care is a not-for-profit organisation that assists frail aged and younger people with disabilities and their carer’s in the Manly, Warringah, Pittwater area to remain independent members of our community.

MWP Care provides support to people who cannot manage alone by providing a range of services. Many of Community Aid’s activities are made possible by the generous work of our wonderful volunteers. Please contact us for more information.

Media Releases concerning Seniors this week from National Seniors Australia

With around a quarter of a million members, National Seniors is Australia’s largest consumer organisation for the over 50s and fourth largest group of its kind in the world.

Community Connect

Need help on where to go to find the community information and assistance you need?

At Community Connect Northern Beaches, our professional staff and trained volunteers are knowledgeable, friendly and approachable and we will be only too pleased to help you find the service you want. We provide information and support, as well as advocacy and referral to other non profit community services and government agencies.

If we can’t help you we will get you someone who can. If you are newly arrived or do not have an English speaking background we can offer individual advice and support. Or Why not come to Specialist Community Support Workshops: Family Law, Power of Attorney plus Wills and Executors; Domestic Violence Support and Prevention; Positive Community Integration ; Crime Prevention; Or  Our Free English Classes. 

We also provide information on: Family Services: Child Care, Personal Support & Counselling; Health (Including Mental Health) ;  Material and Practical Assistance ; Advocacy to access state and federal MP assistance; Accommodation and Tenancy (help with form filling); Legal and Financial Matters ; Consumer Affairs ; Multicultural Issues; Conservation and the Environment ; Employment and Education; Accessing Community Facilities  -You are welcome to call in for: Brochures, booklets and fact sheets on a range of topics; Service Directories e.g. Council Guides and Migrant Directories; Publications e.g. The Senior newspaper and Nova.

Access to our community information data base, internet, email, fax and photocopying.(Please note there is a small charge for photocopying and use of the fax to cover the cost of paper, toner and fax call).  We also offer: A Legal Referral Program - Monday 1pm to 2pm at our 30 Fisher Road, Dee Why office.  Taxation Assistance for low income earners and pensioners from July to October. 

What does it cost?: Our services are free, however we are always grateful for a small donation where possible. The program is supported by NSW Department of Family & Community Services (FACS). CONTACT US: Phone: 02 99317777.

 MWP CARE (previously known as MWP Community Aid) is a local not for profit organisation that was founded by Daphne Elsworthy, a Collaroy resident, 52 years ago and we are still going strong! 

In 2022 our programs focus on assisting older people aged 65 years and older, we also assist younger people with a disability and their carers.  We are funded by the Australian Government Dept. of Health through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (known as CHSP). Pittwater Online News PROFILE

These services may be eligible for government subsidies. Call us on (02) 9913 3244 for a confidential discussion. Alternatively you may call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to discuss your needs. To access our services (and all other CHSP provider services) you must be registered with My Aged Care – the portal for all things related to Aged Care Services 

We provide services aimed at helping people to stay independently living in their own homes.

Our programs cover:

  • Transport – to medical and social appointments
  • Shopping – Escorted Shopping, Shop By List, Group Social Shopping
  • Visiting – a volunteer visits a client in their own home for social support
  • Individual Activities – visit a friend, the library, the beach, local garden, and nursery, go for a coffee & chat, attend community activities etc.
  • Social Group Bus Outings – our mini bus and experienced staff coordinate a calendar of bus outings to interesting venues
  • CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) social groups/outings  – Chinese, Italian, Korean , Filipino, Serbian
  • Home Maintenance Modification Service – provided to individual home owners at reasonable cost. Services provided by trusted tradespeople can include Plumbing, Carpentry, Handyman, Electrical, Modifications (ramps, rails etc.)

Visit our website for more at: www.mwpcommunityaid.com.au  and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mwpcarelimited

Country Pensioner Excursion ticket: NSW Public Transport

Parents missing out on REAL face time? If they have a Pension Card, sign them up & they could get unlimited $2.50 Country Pensioner Excursion tickets*.
Call 13 22 32 to sign up.

Country Pensioner Excursion ticket (CPE)
A Country Pensioner Excursion (CPE) ticket is an affordable ticket for eligible pensioners and seniors to travel by train in regional NSW and the ACT.

For $2.50 you can book an economy class seat on a NSW TrainLink 

Regional train service. You will need to book 7 days or less in advance

Tech Savvy Seniors

Tech Savvy Seniors provides free or low cost digital skills training on how to use computers, tablets and smartphones to keep in touch with family and friends, access essential services, conducting personal business and discover more about the things you are interested in.

Join the thousands of people over 60 who have already completed this fun, practical training and made new friends in the process.

With over 150 training locations across NSW as well as resources online it has never been easier to build your digital skills and confidence, with training available in a range of languages. To find out more about training sessions available near you, visit the Tech Savvy Seniors website to find your local library or community college provider.

For here: 
  • Northern Beaches Council Library at Glen Street, Mona Vale, Warringah Mall 02 9976 1720 
  • Northern Beaches Community College Inc at Narrabeen, Brookvale, Mosman (02) 9970 1000 enquiries@nbcc.nsw.edu.au
The Tech Savvy Seniors website also contains a great range of ‘self-teach’ videos and free digital literacy training resources available to make it easy to learn at your own pace to develop your digital skills from the comfort of your home.

Tech Savvy Seniors is a NSW Government initiative in partnership with Telstra.

Wellbeing Plus 

The Wellbeing Plus Course is a free, online treatment course for Australian’s aged 60 years+  
The course includes 5 lessons delivered over 8 weeks, with optional weekly support from a therapist via email or phone. It aims to help us understand symptoms of anxiety and depression, and practice helpful skills.    

Over 95% of people said they would recommend the Wellbeing Plus Course.  

If you're interested in learning more, visit www.mindspot.org.au/course/wellbeing-plus  

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN)

Older Persons Advocacy Network offer free, independent and confidential services that focus on supporting older people and their representatives to raise and address issues relating to accessing and interacting with Commonwealth funded aged care services.

Older Persons Advocacy Network  seek to ensure that aged care consumers understand and exercise their rights and participate, to the maximum degree possible, in the decisions affecting their care.

Older Persons Advocacy Network achieve this through the delivery of individual advocacy support, information and consumer and service provider education.

Nine State and Territory based organisations form the OPAN network. Older Persons Advocacy Network is funded by the Australian Government to deliver the National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP), providing a national voice for aged care advocacy.

Older Persons Advocacy Network organisations offer free aged care advocacy services that are independent and confidential

Older Persons Advocacy Network organisations provide free information about aged care service provision, referrals and the rights and responsibilities of consumers

Older Persons Advocacy Network organisations offer free information and education sessions to consumers and providers of Commonwealth funded aged care services

NSW Spectacles Program

The NSW Spectacles Program provides glasses and visual aids to eligible recipients who might be at risk of a preventable decline in their eye health.

If you're eligible, you can receive free of charge in any 2-year period:
  • one pair of single vision glasses, or
  • one pair of bifocal glasses.
Contact lenses, tinted lenses or low vision aids may be provided in certain circumstances.

You are eligible if you:
  • receive a full Centrelink pension/benefit
  • have no other income other than the Centrelink payments
  • have financial assets less than $500 (if single) or $1000 (if married/partnered or parent/guardian)
  • are a low-wage earner who earns less than:
  • the JobSeeker Payment if you're under 65, or
  • the aged pension if you're over 65.
People living in regional/remote areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples may also qualify for the subsidy. At your appointment, your provider will use the program’s online portal to check your eligibility using the information you've supplied.

Visit Vision Australia for more details on the program, your eligibility and how to apply, at:

RSPCA's Community Aged Care Program

RSPCA NSW understands that to an elderly owner, a pet can mean everything. Our Aged Care program aims to keep pets and their elderly owners happy, healthy and together in their own homes for as long as possible. To do this, we assist elderly pet owners over the age of 65, Indigenous pet owners over the age of 50 and palliative care patients of any age.
  • services our Aged Care program offers include: temporary foster accommodation and/or emergency pet boarding if the owner requires medical treatment, respite or other assistance
  • assistance with veterinary treatment
  • home visits to assist the elderly with basic pet care
  • assistance with pet grooming
  • assistance with transport to and from the local veterinarian
  • a volunteer network to assist with dog walking and short periods of in-home care if the owner requires medical treatment, respite or other assistance
Please note that due to high demand for this program, we ask that pet owners first ask family and friends whether they are able to assist with their pet’s care.

This community program was previously known as Pets of Older Persons (POOPs).

For more information please contact the RSPCA Community Programs helpline (02) 9782 4408.

The helpline operates Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. During weekends and public holidays contact the RSPCA Contact Centre on (02) 9770 7555
Aged Care Program FAQs

NLA Ebooks - Free To Download

The National Library of Australia provides access to thousands of ebooks through its website, catalogue and eResources service. These include our own publications and digitised historical books from our collections as well as subscriptions to collections such as Chinese eResources, Early English Books Online and Ebsco ebooks.

What are ebooks?
Ebooks are books published in an electronic format. They can be read by using a personal computer or an ebook reader.

This guide will help you find and view different types of ebooks in the National Library collections.
Peruse the NLA's online ebooks, ready to download - HERE

Aged Care Complaints Commissioner 

Any person can make a complaint to the Commissioner, including care recipients, family members, friends, staff, volunteers, or professionals.

Complaints may relate to any aspect of services including care, choice of activities, discrimination, catering, communication or the physical environment. The 1800 550 552 helpline is staffed 9am to 5pm (AEDST) Monday to Friday.

Out of hours callers can leave a message, or contact the Commissioner at anytime through the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner website.


In 2014-15, there were 10,924 contacts to the Aged Care Complaints Scheme. 3,725 were assessed as a complaint, 3,812 ‘other’ contacts includes non-compulsory notifications, own motion investigations and compliance referrals. There were also 3,387 out of scope contacts which were not related to an approved provider or an approved provider’s responsibilities under the Aged Care Act.

Know Your Bones

CEO of Osteoporosis Australia, Greg Lyubomirsky says “bone health is an important part of your general health and anyone with risks for osteoporosis should be investigated.”

He has urged people to try the online self-assessment, Know Your Bones developed by Osteoporosis Australia and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. 

"Simply visit the website, complete the assessment in your own time and a personal report is generated which will outline potential risks and can be taken to your doctor if required.”

You can take the assessment here:  www.knowyourbones.org.au

Bilgola plateau Probus Club

The Bilgola Plateau Probus Club is now on a membership drive to secure interested people to join our club.  Membership is open to males and females who are currently retired or semi-retired.

We meet on the first Friday of each month at 10am at the Newport Bowling Club; 2 Palm Road Newport.

Bilgola Plateau Probus Club is now one year old, and is still accepting membership applications.

To find out more contact the President Mike Musgrave on 0419 263 165.

Seniors Toy Repair Group needs your help

Volunteers are sought to help out on Wednesday mornings (7.30am to midday) at the group's workshed in Ingleside. Volunteers need their own transport and be willing to sort and clean toys that are picked up at different collection points on the Northern Beaches. 

Prospective volunteers can email Mary Kitchen to arrange a visit to the workshed. To arrange a donation pickup please call Terry Cook on 0410 597 327 or email himFind out more about this great community group HERE


Northern Beaches Concert Band is looking for flute, clarinet, saxophone, tuba and trombone adult players.  We cater for players from beginner to advanced and have a varied and exciting repertoire.  Come and join us during school term time at 7.30pm, Pittwater High School, Mona Street, Mona Vale. 
Details 9970 7131 or 0414 560 263.

The Senior Newspaper Online 


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My Aged Care

If you need some help around the house or think it’s time to look into aged care homes, My Aged Care is here to help.
My Aged Care is the Australian Government's starting point on your aged care journey. Find and access the government-funded services you need.

Learn about different types of care
If you are just starting out on your aged care journey, this is your first step. You can see what services are available to help you stay in your own home, or what to expect in an aged care home.

Get assessed
If you’ve had a look at what services might be available and you want to know if you are eligible, this is your next step. Read about how to apply and what’s involved in the assessment process.

Find a provider
If you’ve been assessed and are ready to find a provider and set up your new services, start here. Find out what to consider and get information about service providers near you.

Manage your services
If you are receiving services and want to check what you’ve got in place or make some changes, head to this section.

Need some help?
If you need some help, the My Aged Care team can answer most of your questions over the phone. Call 1800 200 422

 Australian Ageing Agenda

Australian Ageing Agenda (AAA) is an independent and authoritative bi-monthly publication for people who work in or around the aged care and retirement sectors in Australia. It provides a broad range of news, education and opinion with an emphasis on knowledge sharing and research translation.

Each issue also contains regular updates on relevant business and financial issues along with a selection of well researched features on crucial systems and operations, clinical care, technology, built environment and other issues relevant to the ‘ageing sector’. AAA leads the way with the industry’s most comprehensive conference details and remains Australia’s number one source of news and information about ageing issues and aged care.

Have a look at their comprehensive website HERE

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.

Seniors need support as ‘cashless society’ looms

National Seniors is urging Australians to make it known that they want banknotes and coins to remain in circulation.

The apparently inexorable march towards a “cashless society” has long been a concern for many Australians, especially seniors.

The issue hit the headlines again this month, with a prominent politician making a stand against being forced to pay electronically, with a credit or debit card or mobile phone app.

It started when Queensland Federal Member, Bob Katter, went to purchase a meal at a cafe inside Parliament House in Canberra.

When he tried to pay for his meal with a $50 note, he was told that the establishment only accepted cards.

Mr Katter pointed out that cash was legal tender and he was supported in this assertion by the Speaker of the House, Milton Dick.

The reality, however, is that many Australians are preferring to use cards for everyday transactions, and many businesses are refusing payment in cash.

This trend accelerated during the pandemic when more of us started shopping online and some people were reluctant to handle cash for fear of transmitting COVID-19.

At the same time, our opportunities for obtaining cash have been dwindling, with banks closing many of their branches (more than 400 in the year from June 2022-June 2023) and removing automatic teller machines (700 in the same period).

Supermarkets are also limiting the amount of cash they allow shoppers to withdraw at the checkout, and banks are phasing out personal cheque accounts, which will be gone by 2030.

National Seniors Australia chief executive officer Chris Grice said, “Seniors have been experiencing this issue for a number of years now.

“There are many seniors and others who would be greatly inconvenienced and experience hardship if cash was difficult to access or use.”

In media interviews on the issue, Mr Grice said seniors had good reasons to be wary of card-only payments.

Some people can not afford mobile phones, and others are not tech-savvy or are concerned about scams associated with electronic transactions.

He said card payments often attracted additional fees, so purchases are more expensive than with cash.

Another concern is power and internet outages which could render cashless systems inoperable.

Mr Grice said banks were phasing out personal cheque accounts, with the system due to shut down by 2030, yet many government payments are still being made by cheque. 

“There is a disconnect in the system,” he said.

The future
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) notes on its website that businesses are legally able “to specify the terms and conditions that they will supply goods and services”.

It says, “This includes whether they will accept cash payment. However, consumers must be made aware of these terms and conditions before they make a purchase.”

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) associate professor in finance, Dr Angel Zhong, told Nine News that the transition to a cashless society was already underway and could be complete by the end of the decade.

However, she said this didn’t mean that cash would cease to exist.

“It doesn't mean that there’s no banknotes at all. No one should be panicking that your banknotes will no longer carry value,” she said.

“There is always a place for cash, but the majority will be making payments with digital wallets.”

Mr Grice said the best way for Australians to support seniors during this transition was to “pay it forward” by using cash where possible.

This would keep cash flowing through the system, sending a message to government, banks, and business that it is still being used.

The aim is to help ensure online and digital transactions are offered in addition to cash payment, not instead of it.

Mr Grice said businesses should improve their customer service and support for people who are struggling to adjust, and support initiatives such as the Be Connected Program, which aims to increase the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians in using digital technology. 

In remembrance of the bombing of Darwin

February 19, 2024
Today is a national day of remembrance honouring those who served and lost their lives in the attacks on Darwin and across northern Australia during the Second World War.

From December 1941, Japanese forces swept southward, invading Thailand, Malaya, parts of the Netherlands East Indies (present-day Indonesia) and New Guinea. On 15 February 1942, the Japanese captured Singapore, representing a major symbolic and strategic defeat for the Allies.

Four days later, the Japanese launched a raid on Darwin from aircraft carriers in the Arafura Sea and a base on the island of Ambon. More than 240 bombers and fighters descended on the coastal town and harbour in two devastating waves.

The attack overwhelmed Darwin’s defences, with Japanese aircraft bombing and strafing their targets, the port, ships and the airfield. Eight of the 47 ships in the harbour – three naval and five merchant vessels – were sunk, including the American naval destroyer USS Peary, killing 88 sailors.

Tragically, the two raids claimed more than 250 lives, including members of the three Australian armed services, and other Allied personnel. Many merchant mariners and other civilians were also killed, including the postmaster, his family and several postal workers when the trench in which they were sheltering outside Darwin’s post office suffered a direct hit.

The raids on Darwin marked the first attacks on the Australian mainland during the Second World War.

A mere two weeks after the initial raids on Darwin, Japanese forces continued their attacks on northern Australia. Japanese fighters struck Broome without warning, resulting in dozens killed or wounded and more than 20 Allied aircraft destroyed.

These were the first in a series of raids throughout 1942 and 1943, with almost 100 air raids against northern Australia from Wyndham, Port Hedland and Derby in Western Australia, to Darwin and Katherine in the Northern Territory, Townsville and Mossman in Queensland, and Horn Island in the Torres Strait.

Today, we pause and remember those who died in the attacks on Darwin in 1942, those who lost their lives in the air raids across northern Australia, and all those who bravely served in the defence of our nation during the Second World War.

Lest we forget.

To learn more about the Bombing of Darwin visit our 2023 Profile: Lindsay Dufty 

AMA Statement on the closure of the Veterans’ MATES program

February 20, 2024
A new program that supports better health outcomes for veterans needs to be developed and implemented in the wake of the federal government’s decision to close the Veterans’ MATES program.

AMA President and former Australian Navy officer Professor Steve Robson said the AMA understood the decision to end the program given concerns about data privacy.

“A replacement program should be developed that takes into account concerns that have been raised about the privacy of sensitive healthcare information,” Professor Robson said.

The Veterans’ MATES program was designed to support the quality use of medicines for veterans, providing educational materials to health professionals and veterans, and individualised medicine advice to general practitioners.

“The AMA is proud to have been involved with the program since its inception, as it helped improve health outcomes in the veterans’ community,” Professor Robson said.

“This program helped keep many veterans out of hospital and improved their overall quality of life.

“While we are saddened this program has ended, it is important we now work with the federal government and other key stakeholders to develop an effective replacement.”

Professor Robson said the Department of Veterans’ Affairs must continue to invest in programs that support better health outcomes for our veterans’ communities.

“This goes beyond funding timely access to high quality care and extends to innovative programs like Veterans’ MATES that aim to provide clinicians and patients with best practice information.”

Statement from the Secretary of DVA on the Veterans’ MATES Program

February 12, 2024
The Department is aware that the withdrawal of Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Human Research Ethics Committee approval on Monday, 5 February 2024 has increased concerns in the veteran community regarding the Veterans’ MATES Program (MATES), particularly in relation to the sharing of data. MATES has sought to support veterans and their families to manage their health and aligns strongly with DVA’s objective to proactively support the health and wellbeing of veterans.

It is important to note that there has not been any unauthorised access of veteran data. The data has not been made available publicly or for nefarious purposes. DVA only ever provided client data for the purposes of MATES to a trusted organisation, the University of South Australia (UniSA) under strict data security and access policies.

DVA provided the data to UniSA in accordance with the ethics approvals in place at the time. This was done via a secure and carefully controlled channel. UniSA stored the data in a secure facility. Billing data was automatically de-identified before being accessed by researchers for the thematic review under the MATES program. The data did not include doctor’s notes. Identifying data was only used to communicate with the veteran themselves, as well as their doctor, in the event that the analysis of the de-identified data revealed risks to the veteran’s health. The letters that went to veterans and their doctors provided invaluable insights that supported those veterans receiving the most appropriate treatment possible.

Following an Office of the Australian Information Commissioner decision in April 2023, an external review was conducted concerning the administration of opt-out procedures in the MATES program. The review concluded all other such requests received by DVA to opt out of MATES had been properly implemented.

DVA takes its obligations under the Privacy Act extremely seriously and in August 2023 paused any provision of data to UniSA to enable a thorough examination of the existing arrangements. Since this time, no data transfers have occurred.

On 9 February, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs asked the Department to close down the MATES program and examine options for possible future programs that provide health benefits to the veteran community while meeting community and stakeholder expectations around ethical and data use requirements. Any future program would be subject to a new Ethics Committee approval.

What was Veterans' MATES
The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) has delivered the Veterans' Medicines Advice and Therapeutics Education Services (Veterans' MATES) program with the aim of improving the use of medicines and related health services in the veteran community.

Cota Australia Announce a new Chair: Hon. Christopher Pyne

COTA Australia has announced the appointment of the Hon. Christopher Pyne as its new independent chair.

Mr Pyne replaces outgoing independent chair, Jane Halton AO PSM, who has served in the position since 2017.

Mr Pyne, a former Federal Minister, including in health and ageing portfolios, has a long history of dedication to public welfare in his political life as well as through roles including as the Chair of Vision 2020 Australia and as a member of the advisory board of the mental health body, the Orygen Institute. 

Mr Pyne was also instrumental in the creation of HeadSpace.

Patricia Sparrow, COTA Australia Chief Executive Officer, said she looks forward to working with Christopher Pyne to deliver for older Australians.

“Christopher brings a wealth of experience to COTA Australia, extending across multiple federal governments and various sectors, including public, academic, and social spaces,” Ms Sparrow said.

“His expertise is an asset that aligns seamlessly with our focus on championing the concerns of ageing individuals and older Australians nationwide.

“We believe that his leadership will further elevate our mission to create positive change and advocate for policies that enhance the lives of older Australians.”

Ms Sparrow also acknowledged the exceptional contribution of outgoing independent chair, Jane Halton AO.

“Jane Halton has been an incredible asset to our organisation. Her extensive knowledge and wealth of experience has been a driving force behind COTA’s advocacy success. Jane Halton has been, and will no doubt continue to be, an incredible advocate for older Australians. We extend our heartfelt thanks for her incredible service.

”Reflecting on her time at COTA, Ms Halton said:

“During my time as Chair, COTA Australia has gone from strength to strength and been influential in the review of retirement incomes and through the Aged Care Royal Commission. I am proud to have played a role in these areas which have such a critical impact on people’s lives. The successful transition from a long-standing CEO to a new CEO and changes to the Constitution provided a solid foundation for the future.”

“I have full confidence that with Christopher’s leadership, COTA Australia will continue to thrive, and I look forward to its continuing positive impact on the lives of older Australians.”

The Hon. Christopher Pyne said he was looking forward to taking on the important role of COTA Australia independent chair.

“There’s no doubt there are many challenges facing older Australians and, as the leading advocacy voice of older Australians, COTA Australia certainly has a big task ahead of it in the coming years. I’m looking forward to playing my part in helping meet those challenges for the benefit of older people across the country.

“One of the major challenges we’re facing as a country is how we tackle ageism. Ageism is endemic in Australia and addressing it needs to be a key focus not just for COTA, but for governments, businesses and society broadly.

“By addressing systemic ageism, we’ll help unlock the potential of older Australians. That’s not just important for older Australians themselves, but for people of every age.”

Women’s service recognised in mural

February 20, 2024
A message from the Violet Town RSL Sub-Branch;
An impressive mural representing women who served in, or supported, Australia’s and allied defence forces in times of war has been unveiled at the Violet Town RSL Sub-branch in North East Victoria.

It is the largest mural in Australia dedicated to honouring all women’s contribution to war. Painted by recognised mural artist Tim Bowtell, the largely black and white artwork tells the story of local women from the Violet Town area who served, but set in the context of Australian women’s service in all military conflicts.

Susan Felsche and Vietnam 

Local women and AWAS 

The large mural is 17 metres long and nearly 2 metres high, and is located next to the town’s Boer War Memorial in Cowslip Street, just off the busy Hume Highway linking Melbourne and Sydney.

The RSL project to build the mural, which extended over several years, highlighted that while there were about 20 local women who had been identified as having served in the Army, Navy, Air Force or on the home front, they served only during the First and Second World Wars.

The project team was keen to create a mural that symbolically represented those who served across the spectrum – from the Boer War to the present – as well as those who helped on the home front.

The mural covers the major areas of conflict of the 20th and 21st centuries, and shows portraits of local women and other women, representing those who played their part. Other features are women at work in factories highlighting work on the home front, and high ranking officers, representing the rise of women in the ranks of military services. Storyboards highlight the different organisations which women joined and the roles they played.

The mural will become part of Victoria’s military history trail, extending from Seymour northward. The Violet Town RSL Sub-branch is proud that the RSL is recognising the women of the district as well as the men, as Australian women have been able to serve in all combat roles since 2016.

New Aged Care Act consultation period extended

February 13, 2024
Public consultation on the draft new Aged Care Act as been extended to 8 March 2024. Have your say and help shape Australia’s aged care system.

The Department of Health and Aged Care's consultation on the draft Act opened on 14 December 2023. 

Since then, they’ve heard from people who use aged care services, people who deliver these services and work in aged care, and people with an interest in the sector. 

Many people have also asked for more time to review the draft Act and provide feedback on this important change to aged care. 

In response, the Australian Government has extended the consultation period. This will give people more opportunity to contribute. 

The new Act will impact everyone connected to aged care so it’s important that you get involved and have your say. You can: 
Consultation closes at 7:00 pm (AEDT) on Friday 8 March 2024. 

$50 million to develop world-leading artificial heart

February 20,. 2024
The Australian Government is providing $50 million to develop and commercialise the world’s most advanced artificial heart, a technology that could halve deaths from heart failure globally and contribute $1.8 billion to Australia and Australian society.
The $50 million is the third-largest grant in the nearly ten-year history of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).
The Artificial Heart Frontiers Program brings together five universities, three clinical partners and an Australian-grown company to develop three transformative, next-generation cardiac technologies, collectively known as the Total Artificial Heart.
Every year, over 23 million people around the world suffer from heart failure, but only 6,000 will receive a donor heart.
Nearly 500,000 Australians live with heart failure. Each year, around 60,000 Australians are diagnosed with the condition, and 60,000 are hospitalised for it.
Approximately 100 patients undergo a heart transplant each year for advanced heart disease, but many more do not get the chance.
Unlike previous devices, the Total Artificial Heart uses state-of-the-art magnetic levitation technology that promises to be durable for more than 10 years, is small enough to implant in a child, and powerful enough for an adult.
The Total Artificial Heart will allow patients to maintain an active lifestyle and improve their quality of life.
If successful, the devices will save millions of lives globally, halving deaths from heart failure.
The $50 million provided by the Albanese Government will help position Australia as the home of next-generation cardiac devices, developing and commercialising a pipeline of technology while retaining and attracting the field’s best and brightest minds.
Over the next 15 years, the project is expected to contribute $1.8 billion to Australia and Australian society, including savings to the healthcare system, an industry expansion in research and manufacturing, the creation of over 2,000 jobs, and giving Australians patients early access to clinical trials and emerging life-saving technologies.
The Monash University-led consortium includes the following partners:
  • Industry partner: BiVACOR
  • University partners: Monash University; University of Sydney; University of New South Wales; Griffith University; University of Queensland
  • Clinical partners: The Alfred; Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute; St Vincent’s Health Australia
The Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, stated:

“As well as the obvious health benefits, this is an incredible story of Australian ingenuity and sovereign manufacturing, with collaboration across universities, clinical hospitals and industry to develop the world’s most advanced artificial heart.”

“The $50 million provided by the Albanese Government makes this the third-largest grant in the nearly ten-year history of the Medical Research Future Fund.”

“This will give hope to the half a million Australians who suffer from heart failure. The Australian technology has the potential to halve deaths from heart failure, create thousands of jobs, and contribute $1.8 billion to Australia and Australian society.”

Dementia can be predicted more than a decade before diagnosis with these blood proteins

Andrey Popov/Shutterstock
Rahul Sidhu, University of Sheffield

In the largest study of its kind, scientists have discovered that a blood test detecting specific proteins could predict dementia up to 15 years before a person receives an official diagnosis.

The researchers found 11 proteins that have a remarkable 90% accuracy in predicting future dementia.

Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer. Over 900,000 people in the UK are living with the memory-robbing condition, yet less than two-thirds of people receive a formal diagnosis. Diagnosing dementia is tricky and relies on various methods.

These include lumbar punctures (to look for certain telltale proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid), PET scans and memory tests. These methods are invasive, time-consuming and expensive, putting a heavy burden on the NHS. This means that many people are only diagnosed when they have memory and cognitive problems. By this point, the dementia may have been progressing for years and any support or health plan may be too late.

Those with undiagnosed dementia, and their families, cannot attend clinical trials, have an organised healthcare plan or access essential support. So improving dementia diagnosis would provide earlier support and give patients a longer, healthier and more prosperous life.

In this latest study, researchers at the University of Warwick in England and Fudan University in China examined blood samples from 52,645 healthy volunteers from the UK Biobank genetic database between 2006 and 2010. Over the ten- to 15-year follow-up period, around 1,400 developed dementia.

The researchers used artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyse 1,463 proteins in the blood. They identified 11 proteins associated with dementia, of which four could predict dementia up to 15 years before a clinical diagnosis.

When combining this data with more regular risk factors of age, sex, education and genetics, the dementia prediction rate was around 90%.

These proteins found in the plasma (the liquid component of blood) are biological markers for the changes that occur in dementia sufferers over a decade before clinical symptoms first appear. They act as warning signs of the disease.

Why these proteins?

The four proteins most strongly associated with all-cause dementia, Alzheimer’s disease (accounting for 70% of all dementias) and vascular dementia (accounting for 20%) are GFAP, NEFL, GDF15 and LTBP2.

Scientists showed GFAP to be the best “biomarker” for predicting dementia. GFAP’s function is to support nerve cells called astrocytes.

A symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is inflammation, and this causes astrocytes to make a lot of GFAP. Consequently, people with dementia display increased inflammation, resulting in higher levels of GFAP, making it a prominent biomarker.

The study showed that people with higher GFAP were more than twice as likely to develop dementia as people with low levels. Smaller studies have also identified GFAP to be a potential marker for dementia.

NEFL is the second protein that is most strongly associated with dementia risk. This protein relates to nerve fibre damage. Combining NEFL or GFAP with demographic data and cognitive tests significantly improves the accuracy of dementia prediction.

Proteins GD15 and LTBP2, both involved in inflammation, cell growth and death, and cellular stress, are also strongly linked to increased dementia risk.

But despite the study’s discovery, other scientists warn that the new biomarkers require further validation before they can be used as a screening tool.

A lumbar puncture being performed
Lumbar puncture is one of the planks of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Casa nayafana/Shutterstock

The bigger picture

Other initiatives are also promoting the adoption of blood tests as a widespread screening method in diagnosing dementia, including the Blood Biomarker Challenge, a five-year project aiming to use NHS blood tests to diagnose diseases that lead to dementia by looking at traces of brain proteins leaked into the bloodstream.

The exciting advent of new dementia drugs such as lecanemab and donanemab, not yet approved for use in the UK, has the potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Patients seeking lecanemab or donanemab treatment would require an early-stage diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s Research UK estimates that only 2% of patients undergo such diagnostic testing.

The study shows that blood tests are an effective way to detect dementia early by identifying specific proteins, providing the patient with the best possible opportunity to receive life-changing treatment.

Early diagnosis of dementia would result in a more effective treatment. A simple blood test has the potential to replace the costly, time-consuming and invasive tests currently used for dementia patients, ultimately improving the quality of many lives.The Conversation

Rahul Sidhu, PhD Candidate, Neuroscience, University of Sheffield

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Spitting Image at 40: the story of the show is surprisingly influenced by Thatcher

Hannah Andrews, University of Lincoln

Spitting Image, first broadcast in February 1984, is famed as an iconoclastic satire of 1980s political and popular culture. Its grotesque puppet caricatures became so well known that they could cement a person’s image in public consciousness: Margaret Thatcher as a domineering bully, Sarah Ferguson a snorting Sloane ranger, a grey-skinned John Major joylessly chomping a plate of peas.

Thatcher may have provided the show with its star turn, but her government’s policies were also influential in bringing the programme to air, as well as its eventual demise. The story of Spitting Image is a surprisingly – and accidentally – Thatcherite one.

Spitting Image had unusual origins for a popular TV show. It began with the partnership of artists Roger Law and Peter Fluck, also known as “Luck and Flaw”. They specialised in three-dimensional caricature models, which were photographed for news outlets across the world.

To provide additional income, the pair decided to make these models move. Though Fluck and Law would not have called themselves entrepreneurs, they were keen to expand the operation in ways that would have made Thatcher happy.

At a feted “original lunch” in 1982, designer Martin Lambie-Nairn suggested a television show as a vehicle for Fluck and Law’s caricaturing. They formed an independent company with US-based satirist Tony Hendra, comedy producer John Lloyd (who had approached Fluck and Law to animate their caricatures for his hit BBC show Not the Nine O’Clock News) and freelance current affairs producer Jon Blair.

It was unclear, though, how to translate this wealth of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm into making and selling a TV show.

This was understandable, since, at this time, most British TV was made in-house, either by the BBC or within the ITV network. Independent television production was a cottage industry and indies had little access to airtime.

Spitting Image would need to be made with a major broadcaster, but most commissioners were unwilling to take this expensive risk. Charles Denton of Central Independent Television (CIT) was the exception. He was looking for opportunities to change the image of CIT, which was largely known for light entertainment.

Spitting Image was offering something different: it was innovative, provocative, eye-catching.

After a successful 20-minute pilot produced in June 1983, Denton enthusiastically commissioned Spitting Image to begin in 1984. It became a rare example for its time of a co-production between ITV and an independent production company.

The enterprise zone

After teething troubles, Spitting Image grew into hit for CIT. There was huge demand for the puppets, which were manufactured in “the world’s first caricature sweatshop”, as Law jokingly described it in a 1985 documentary.

The workshop was in London’s West India Dock (now Canary Wharf) one of the government’s newly founded “Enterprise Zones”, which gave tax incentives and relaxed regulations for redevelopment. These aided the refurbishment of the Spitting Image “factory”.

Spitting Image became a ubiquitous part of 1980s popular culture. The puppets appeared on a wide range of merchandise, including books, board games, records and toys.

The Spitting Image Margaret Thatcher puppet in action.

Spin-offs boosted the reputation of the show, though arrangements were ad hoc, and the creative team were ambivalent about them, keen to avoid selling out.

The international success of the series helped to boost its reputation. Not only did it win awards such as the International Emmy in 1986, but it would be imitated around the world, for example as Les Guignols de L’Info in France or Kukly in Russia. Its success in international sales led in 1989 to it winning a Queen’s Award for Export Achievement.

Political objections to the Thatcher government notwithstanding, Spitting Image was heralded as one of the commercial success stories for the UK TV industry at this time. Its annual turnover was reported at over £2 million in 1986.

The show’s decline

Thatcher’s resignation in November 1990 deprived Spitting Image of its main character. But her government’s television policy had already sowed the seeds for the series’ demise.

Thatcher saw the TV industry as bloated, bureaucratic and dominated by unions. She called ITV the “last bastion of restrictive practices” in 1987. Her overall aim was to marketise broadcasting by introducing greater competition. The prize of a privatised BBC eluded her.

Legislation was passed in 1990 that required the BBC and ITV to commission 25% of its programming from independent production companies. Uncertainty about how this would work caused costly delays in commissioning decisions in the early 1990s, which led to difficulties for Spitting Image Productions.

Trailer for the Britbox revival of Spitting Image.

Licenses to run (and profit from) regional ITV franchises were now awarded to the highest cash bid. ITV companies became more explicitly profit-oriented, and programmes were under greater pressure to deliver audiences to advertisers. This coincided with a recession in 1990 and 1991, which depressed demand for advertising and raised operating costs thanks to inflation.

By the early 1990s, Spitting Image’s ratings were in decline. Most of the original creative team had left. Other ventures, such as a Madame Tussauds-style Rubberworks exhibition or children’s TV show The Winjin’ Pom, had not generated much needed extra income. The final series aired in 1996.

Spitting Image has since been revived. In 2020 and 2021 it was brought back as exclusive content for the streaming service Britbox, and then in 2023 as a musical staged in Birmingham and London.

But it is as a silly, rude, satirical vision of the 1980s – and a unique product of a changing television industry – that it will be remembered.

Looking for something good? Cut through the noise with a carefully curated selection of the latest releases, live events and exhibitions, straight to your inbox every fortnight, on Fridays. Sign up here.The Conversation

Hannah Andrews, Associate Professor in Film and Media, University of Lincoln

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

2024 Seniors Card Discount Directory

NSW Seniors Card is pleased to provide members with the 2024 Seniors Card Directory, your guide to the best discounts and special offers from thousands of participating businesses across the state.

The directory includes discounts from each region in NSW. The regions are: Sydney & Surrounds, Central Coast & Hunter, Northern NSW, Southern NSW and Western NSW.

View our regional map below to determine which region you are in.  You can view the directory online in your browser or download and save to your computer for quick reference as you need. 

Each year five directories are released, one for each region in NSW. The regions are: Sydney & Surrounds, Central Coast & Hunter, Northern NSW, Southern NSW and Western NSW.

To download your copy, please click the link below:
Copies of the 2024 directory are also available for pickup from Australia Post Outlets, Service NSW Centres, MP Offices as well as participating local Councils and Libraries across the state. Please click here to find a location near you.

AvPals Group Sessions at Newport: Term 1 2024

Enrol now at: www.avpals.com/shop

Make 2024 the year you get Tech Savvy and don't have to resort to the grandchildren to work out what you want to do and how to do it.

Avalon Computer Pals (AVPALS) helps Seniors learn and improve their computer skills. It is a not for profit organisation run by volunteers. Started in 2000 AvPals now has 20+ trainers and hundreds of students annually. Each year AvPals runs Group Sessions in the Newport Community Centre focussed on what you want to learn and find out more about.

u3a at Newport Community Centre: coming up

About Our Courses and Activities
Sydney u3a comprises seven regions covering the greater Sydney metropolitan area. The local one is U3A Northern Beaches Region.

Sydney u3a is managed and run entirely by volunteers who contribute time and energy to provide life-long learning and social activities for everyone.  Join in to enjoy the benefits of membership!  At the one affordable annual membership fee of $85.00 (less than $2 per week), you’ll get:
  • access to a wide range of courses and presentations
  • friendly and inviting social events in your region

Members can attend any course in any of the seven regions
  • Volunteers lead and administer the courses and talks
  • A wide range of topics is covered – from learning foreign languages to table tennis to history to book/movie clubs to philosophy to science related issues. There’s something for everyone!
  • Courses are held in a variety of local venues and via Zoom
  • Events, visits, tours and social activities are also offered
  • Full details of activities are listed each semester in the Course Book and on individual regional pages
From time to time there are changes to course details after publication of the Course Book. Please keep checking your region’s website or the website home page for updates.

u3a Northern Beaches Region
Our current newsletter includes up to date information on courses, events and any changes to the program.  Previous newsletters are available here if you missed any information or wish to refresh your memory.

Please note:  The newsletter is distributed to members by email at the end of each month. If you haven’t received the latest copy please check as it may have been captured in your Junk email folder. If this is the case, please adjust your settings so that you receive future newsletters as soon as possible. We also take this opportunity to issue a friendly reminder to contact us with your updated details if you change your home or email address. Thank you.

Games Table Tennis
Every Thursday from 1:15 to 4:15
Main Hall
Table tennis stimulates physical and mental performance. We offer the opportunity to revive a dormant skill and to socialise with new friends in an air-conditioned venue that is ideal for year-round play.
Leader: Richard Hughes 69ingleside@gmail.com
Bookings: Ron Heald and Angela Gollmer ra.u3a.tt@gmail.com

Every Monday from 12:30 to 2:00
Main Hall
Please book only one yoga class per week. Every class consists of basic yoga practice, breathing and
deep relaxation which will help improve joint mobility, increase muscle flexibility and bone density.
Teacher: Maryanne Deans Kolek
Leader: Susan Barnard susanbarnard@iinet.net.au
Bookings: Pamela Frei pamelannfrei@icloud.com

Alternate Wednesdays from 8 Feb 1:30 to 4:00
Activity Rooms 1 and 2
Looking for fun and an enjoyable activity that extends you? Join our drama activities where you will meet new people and have fun along the way. We do drama to music, also mime, improvisation and roleplaying.
Leader: Helen Rosenkranz helenrosenkranz@gmail.com
Bookings: Claire Kennedy eurobin10@hotmail.com

Every Wednesday (except first Wed every month) from 8 Feb 2:00 to 3:30
Main Hall.
Reconnect with nature via this gentle, moving meditation originating in China. Relaxes the joints, aids digestion and sleep, calms the mind and gently tones and strengthens muscles. Work at your own level.
Suitable for most.

Leader: Penny Auburn penauburn@gmail.com
Bookings: Helen Howes helsim@internode.on.net

Active and Healthy at any age

Staying physically active is the single most important thing you can do to stay fit and independent, as you get older. Age is no barrier, research shows that exercise, at any age, is worth the effort. If you are in any doubt about exercise, please talk to your doctor.

This website (https://www.activeandhealthy.nsw.gov.au/) can help you find an exercise program in your local area and provides information and tools that can assist you to increase your physical activity.

Join Healthy and Active for Life Online!

Healthy and Active for Life Online is a FREE 10-week healthy lifestyle program for adults aged 60 years* and over.

The program will help you learn how to make small, sustainable changes in your lifestyle to improve your health.

The program covers lots of topics including healthy eating and physical activity.
No prior knowledge or exercise experience is required!
*Aboriginal people aged 45+ years can register. 

Healthy and Active for Life Online will help you to be active by:
  • Providing online exercise programs for you to complete in the comfort of your home
  • Providing you with an exercise manual and log to keep you on track
  • Helping you to create realistic goals and increase your fitness

Apply for the $200 Seniors Energy Rebate

A new rebate for independent retirees who hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card to help with electricity costs. The Seniors Energy Rebate is available for eligible independent retirees to help cover the cost of their electricity.

To be eligible you need to hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).
CSHCs are means-tested concession cards issued by Services Australia and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA). 

The Seniors Energy Rebate is $200 per household, per financial year.
If your application is successful, the rebate will be paid directly into your nominated bank or Credit Union account.

Note: Gas accounts are not eligible for the rebate.

What you need
  • your valid CSHC from Centrelink or the DVA
  • the most recent electricity bill for your current primary place of residence
  • your contact details
  • your bank or Credit Union account details
How to apply
  • Check you meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Select the 'Apply online' button.
  • Enter the required details.
  • Submit the application.
If you're unable to apply online, visit a service centre or call us on 13 77 88.
If your application is successful, you'll receive payment within 5 working days into your nominated bank/Credit Union account. Service NSW will contact you if there are problems issuing your payment. 
Peninsula Bridge Club - Founded in 1967, we are a key community hub on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We contribute strongly to our community: with both social connectedness for those who need it and opportunities to learn and train for those with competitive sporting goals. 

The Club is a vibrant organisation hosting up to three bridge sessions a day. We have 37 permanently set tables – that’s 148 players. We host over 30,000 player sessions every year. This includes prominent tournaments and education events attracting players from across the region. 

We pride ourselves on the friendliness of the club and our strong community spirit. We support local charities but even more importantly we support community members by providing them with social connection and mental stimulus – irrespective of age and mobility.

Our clubhouse is at Warriewood.

We have a new Beginners Course starting the end of September.

Each 2-hour lesson focuses on learning by playing, with a break for tea and chocolate biscuits mid-way. The course runs for 6 weeks and costs $100, which includes text book and support materials.

After the lessons we offer “Help with Play” sessions to practise what you’ve learned; Mondays 7-9pm; Tuesdays 2.15-4.30; Fridays 9.15-11.30. ($7 for members & $12 for visitors – membership

We also offer more advanced lessons each month so you can continue to improve your game if you want. 

If you are keen to learn this great game, please call or email Cath Whiddon (Director of Bridge Ed at PBC): 9979 5752 or cwhiddon@live.com.

If you already know how to play, take a look at our website to see what’s on offer this month: peninsulabridgeclub.org.au

Peninsula Bridge Club Facebook page: www.facebook.com/peninsulabridgeclub

assistance to pay your aged care costs

It’s now easier to get help if you need assistance to pay your aged care costs.
Services Australia have improved their Aged Care Claim for financial hardship assistance form and made changes to some evidence requirements. They’ve made these changes so it’s easier for you to get help.

You may get help if you can’t pay your aged care costs and you’re either:
  • in residential or respite care
  • getting a home care package.
You can claim for financial hardship assistance if all of the following apply:
If you get a Home Care Package, your care must have started on or after 1 July 2014.

Before you claim, you should update your income and asset details as well as your partners if you have one. You may also be eligible for other payments and services.

Next steps

NSW Seniors Card program: Translated Resources

If you're from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background, and would like more information about the NSW Seniors Card program, translated versions of the Membership Guide brochure are available here:
Available for download in 13 different languages.

Pensioner water rebate

If you receive a pension, you may qualify for a rebate on your water bill. 

To be eligible, you’ll need a:
  • Pensioner Concession Card from Centrelink or Department of Veterans' Affairs, or
  • gold Health Card (also known as a gold card) that shows:
  • war widow
  • war widower
  • extreme disablement adjustment (EDA)
  • totally and temporarily incapacitated (TTI)
  • totally and permanently incapacitated (TPI).
You’ll also need to be the owner and occupier of one of the following:
  • single dwelling
  • dual occupancy
  • strata or company title unit
  • unit in a retirement village with a life term lease.
If you own the property with someone who isn't a pensioner, you may still get a rebate. This depends on your relationship with the other owner(s) and your eligibility.

Rebates are applied to each bill. 

You can claim your pensioner rebate by selecting your water supplier from the following list:


Contact Community Care Northern Beaches HERE

Profile Bayview Yacht Racing Association (BYRA)
1842 Pittwater Rd, Bayview
Website: www.byra.org.au

BYRA has a passion for sharing the great waters of Pittwater and a love of sailing with everyone aged 8 to 80 or over!

 Keep your Wits About You

A regular contributor suggests we all look at Lumosity to see if will suit keeping active mentally. Their website states: "improve Brain Health and performance. Designed by neuroscientists, Lumosity exercises improve core cognitive functions. Researchers have measured significant improvements in working memory and attention after Lumosity training. Dozens of research collaborations help improve the Lumosity training program and its effectiveness." You can visit their website to decide for yourself  at: www.lumosity.com/app/v4/personalization

Heartmoves is a low-moderate intensity exercise program. Regular participation in Heartmoves will help to: Better manage weight, blood sugars, blood pressure and cholesterol; Improve fitness, balance, co-ordination and flexibility; Enhance your quality of life and meet other people. Ingrid Davey is a qualified Older Adult Instructor and accredited Heartmoves Leader who will guide you through an exercise program that is fun, safe and modified to suit you. Tuesday 9.30am and Thursday 10.30am at Nelson Heather Centre, 4 Jackson Road Warriewood.  The cost per class is $10.00 casual now and $17.00 for two classes. Phone Ingrid to secure your spot on 0405 457 063. www.heartfoundation.org.au


EasyLink (formerly Easy Transport Manly Warringah Pittwater) - medical appointments, shopping trips, mystery tours and Saturday Lunch - this great non-profit organisation offers great ideas and solutions.

Visit: https://easylink.com.au

Australian Government Dept. of Health: Hearing Devices for Seniors

Australian Government's Hearing Services Program (the program), offers the option of being fitted with a hearing device if a hearing assessment identifies you have a hearing loss and a hearing device may assist you. 

You will be given a recommendation for a fully subsidised hearing device, and may also be offered the option of purchasing a partially subsidised hearing device. These devices have been approved by the Office of Hearing Services.

You can find out more about this program on the Australian Government's Department of Health webpage on the program here

council has a Home Library Service Available for Seniors

For those unable to visit the library because of age or disability, the Home Library Service maintains a vital connection with all that the library offers. Your Home Library Service Officer will help you select items for reading or listening. Volunteers or staff will then deliver and collect your library items on a regular basis.

Register for the Home Library Service
If you or the person you care for is unable to visit the library or carry library items home due to age, frailty or disability, please complete Council's Home Library Service Application Form or call us on 9942 2393. 

A medical certificate or statement signed by a doctor may be required to assess eligibility.

What happens next?
After staff receive your completed application form, a Home Library Service Officer will contact you to arrange a time to meet and discuss the service details with you.

Staff or volunteers will then select your items according to your borrowing preferences and then deliver them to you. During this visit you can return any items that you have finished with.

NSW Seniors Website: Crosswords, Puzzles & Games

Did you know that the NSW Seniors website has a range of games and puzzles for you to exercise that great grey matter upstairs?

Recently new items have been added in and now the list is:

Just click on the links we've embedded next time it's too cold out for a stroll and exercise that other great asset you have - your mind!
Avalon Beach Ladies Probus Club - Profile

Looking For New Members - Spring Into Spring - October 2023 is Probus Month - Theme This Year: Good Friends, Great Times, New Adventures.

Currently Avalon Beach Ladies Probus club is looking for new members - a great opportunity to spring into Spring by meeting up with wonderful local women for fun and friendship. Meets first Tuesday of every month at Club Palm Beach (Palm Beach RSL).

President Margaret White shares a few insights into this local ladies Probus club.

Computer Pals for Seniors: Northern BeachesTechnology made easy for Seniors

Have you ever struggled with the demands of modern technology? Come and join our friendly club and learn at your own pace. 

Computer Pals for Seniors Northern Beaches is here to help you master your device, be it Android/Apple tablets and phones, Apple/Microsoft/Chromebook laptops.

Each lesson is one-on-one for an hour each week during term times.

We are based at The Tramshed Arts & Community Centre, 1395a Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, close to the B-Line bus stop.

If you would like further information please contact Anne - Tel: 9984 0604 or email anne.computerpals@gmail.com

Avalon Scottish Country Dancing

Avalon Rec. Centre
Thursday 3pm to 5pm
Most Saturdays 2pm to 4pm
(contact Margot Fenelon 0419 122 455 to confirm Saturday class)
COST:  $5 - first visit free
WHAT TO WEAR: Casual clothes and soft soled shoes

Pensioner's Concessions: Council Rates

Did you know that Pensioners are entitled to concessions on their Council Rates?

Concessions are available for eligible pensioners. To be an eligible pensioner you must receive a pension from either Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and be entitled to a pensioner concession card issued by the Commonwealth Government. You can only claim a concession on the property if it is the sole or principal place you live.

If you are eligible, you are entitled to:
  • Half of the total of your ordinary rates and domestic waste management service charge, up to a maximum of $250.
  • Half of your water rates or charges, up to a maximum of $87.50.
  • Half of your sewerage rates or charges, up to a maximum of $87.50.
To apply, you need to complete a pensioner concession application form. You can obtain these forms from your council - download our area's one HERE

Meals on Wheels 

Meal preparation and delivery: Benevolent Society
Our food services include meal preparation, and delivery of hot, frozen or chilled meals as part of the Meals on Wheels NSW program. This service is currently provided in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney.

Assistance to prepare food at home is available as an activity to help stay active and independent.
To find out if you or someone you know is eligible for this service, call our friendly staff. 
Call 1800 236 762

Pittwater; 6 Jackson Road, WARRIEWOOD, NSW 2102
Phone: 02 9457 3900

Manly & Warringah; Manly Seniors Centre, 275 Pittwater Road, MANLY, NSW 2095
Phone: 02 9976 1469

Home Instead Sydney North Shore & Northern Beaches

We are a provider of quality home care and companionship services for seniors in the Northern suburbs of Sydney. 

To you, it’s about finding trustworthy care for your ageing loved one. To us, it’s about providing the highest-quality in-home care services to fit you and your family’s needs.
To Us, It's Personal.

We provide services to all areas and suburbs in the North Shore and Northern Beaches of Sydney.
Telephone: (02) 9144 2322


Avalon Computer Pals (AVPALS) helps Seniors learn and improve their computer skills. It is a not for profit organisation run by volunteers. 

Started in 2000 it now has 20+ trainers and many hundreds of students. At a really low cost (about $50 a school term) they can provide one-to-one training on most matters connected with computing and related technologies like mobile phones and digital cameras. From the smallest problem (how to hold the mouse!) to much more serious matters, there is a trainer who can help.

We offer “one to one” personal tuition or special short courses in the training rooms under the Catholic Church in Avalon. Training is conducted Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm. For more information visit AVPALS web site www.avpals.com or phone 02 8064 3574

Keep up to date on our Facebook page

Find out more at: www.avpals.com

Keep on Dancing is what the science says!

ABC Catalyst is presenting a 2 part special studying the many benefits of dance for the over 65s. Improvements in memory, movement and the creation of new neural pathways in the brain are some of the benefits found in recent studies.

Nia is a combination of 52 moves drawn from dance arts, martial arts and healing arts. Within one class we combine flexibility, agility, mobility, strength and stability (FAMMS) in order to improve balance and fitness. By incorporating FAMMS within the movements, Nia is an integrated way to condition the entire body. People who regularly practice Nia open to a new awareness of their bodies, their internal energies, and their feelings – all of which help them move more efficiently, effectively, and safely in their workouts and in life.

Come along and give it a try. There's no performance pressure. Avalon Nia Classes are held at the Recreation Centre.
6pm Thursdays Classic Nia
9.30am Fridays Gentle Nia
Call or text Mandy Loveday 0411 645 389 - Profile

Nia’s 9 movement forms embrace the 5 Sensations of Fitness:
  • Flexibility
  • Agility
  • Mobility
  • Strength
  • Stability
Dance for health. Avalon Recreation Centre Thursdays 6pm and Fridays 9.30am.