In State Parliament this week, Member for Morwell Russell Northe has raised the plight of Latrobe Valley seniors, who once again, have seemingly being disadvantaged by changes to the distribution of travel vouchers for Pensioner Concession Card holders; Victorian Seniors Card holders and Victorian Carer Card holders.
“I’ve been contacted by many Latrobe Valley seniors who have discovered that they have missed out on their free public transport travel vouchers this year. This year, the State Government has changed the process to receive these vouchers to an opt-in service, rather than the vouchers being allocated automatically in the mail” Mr Northe commenced.
“Many seniors who have been looking forward to travelling as we see COVID-19 restrictions easing are finding that because they didn’t register or opt-in by 31 July 2020, they’ve now missed out on receiving the vouchers until September 2021 – which is ridiculous” Mr Northe said.
At the beginning of this year the Commonwealth Government removed the two previously allocated free vouchers for Pension Card holders provided via Centrelink. This means that while Latrobe Valley seniors would have received up to six free travel vouchers last year, they could potentially miss out on all if they missed this procedural update and requirement.
“I understand the process has changed and perhaps for good reason, but one would expect there would be a period of transition, some form of advertising and late registrations accepted. Particularly this year where our lives have been very different – many are only just starting to get out and about again” Mr Northe said.
“Many seniors contest they have had no notification of this change and observed no advertising regarding the opt-in requirement. They are shocked beyond belief that they will have to wait until September next year to possibly the free travel vouchers they are entitled to” Mr Northe said.
“This is unfair approach to transitioning a group of people to a change of policy. Denying them a late registration is really mean-spirited and to have all the onus on our seniors seems perplexing, and I subsequently call upon the Minister to fix this mess and ensure seniors receive the free travel vouchers they deserve and are entitled to this year” Mr Northe said.
“Our Latrobe Valley seniors already pay more for their public transport to travel less distances and have less access to benefits afforded to their metropolitan counterparts. This is just another blow and it needs to be resolved and now, particularly with the Government now actively calling upon Victorians to travel around Victoria to get our economy moving again” Mr Northe concluded.