Seniors welcome cheaper transport, mental health funding

QUEENSLAND seniors welcome announcement of cheaper fares public transport fares and funding for mental health programs as part of the state's 2016/17 budget.  

National Seniors Australia's Queensland Policy Advisory Group chair Vera Somerwil said older people could travel more often with the cost of a trip from Beenleigh to Brisbane CBD, for example, falling from $7.27 to $5.96 from 1 January 2017.  

The 'nine and free' scheme will also be axed, replaced with discounts of 50 per cent after eight trips.  

"This is good news for older people who may want to travel further and more frequently to keep in touch with friends and family but the high cost of public transport has put them off," said Ms Somerwil.  

"The news will help save concession card holders when they are travelling multiple zones.  

"But it's not before time. We have been seeking a better deal for seniors travelling on public transport in South East Queensland for some years."  

Nationals Seniors has also welcomed budget measures including:  

- Additional funding of $6.1 million over four years for the Queensland: an age-friendly community strategy which included seniors' legal and support services and the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit, and expansion of the Seniors Enquiry Line

  - $12 million to build regional mental health facilities in Mackay, Bundaberg and Gladstone  

"On the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, funding and facilities to help those with legal and mental health issues can only be a positive move," Ms Somerwil said.  

"People in rural and remote areas of Queensland are doing it tough, particularly older men who all too often keep serious mental illness to themselves and all too often we only find out about them when it is too late."  

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