The COTA movement commenced life in Australia over fifty years ago, in response to a developing need for our seniors (people over fifty years of age) to be represented at all levels of Government. Representing seniors is a challenging task, because our needs change as we progress through life. For example younger seniors are usually still at work and have an interest in accumulating savings to fund the stage of life when they may no longer wish to work full time. They also need to plan for the activities and lifestyle they wish to pursue when they have greater financial freedom and the time to pursue activities which they could not pursue when they were busy working full-time and (in most cases) raising a family. This group of working seniors may also be seeking representation to ensure they are not discriminated against in the workplace and may progressively be seeking more flexible work roles.
Of course there is significant overlap in the needs of all seniors, but those who are no longer in the workforce have usually already done their financial and retirement planning. These seniors are still very active in the community and may wish to become involved in some of the many activities that COTAs provide. The needs of this group, particularly access to volunteer work roles, and availability of suitable, affordable accommodation and healthcare, have long been priorities for the COTA movement.
The oldest group of seniors includes many people who may be less active in the community, but who nevertheless have a great deal of experience and much accumulated knowledge to share. Many individuals in this group need different accommodation options to those required by our younger seniors, and may also be potentially most at risk from financial and physical abuse. Representing the views and needs of all groups of seniors has been a priority for the COTA movement for over five decades.
As the population in Australia ages new needs for our seniors in the various age groups will undoubtedly emerge. The network of staff, members, Board members and Policy Council members of COTAs will ensure that COTAs are responsive to those emerging needs.