We all grow old. It is an inevitable consequence of living. Can’t escape it, can’t change it. The shiny promise of youth grows tarnished, the disappointments mount. The future no longer yawns with infinite possibilities. “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,” sang a nostalgic Paul McCartney in 1965. At that time he was only 23.

For some (including myself), the thought of the ‘twilight years’ brings with it visions of recliner chair, comfy slippers and hot cups of tea, watching the intoxicating view of the clear turquoise Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean and the beautiful colours illuminating from the sunset cascading the water sunset in a freehold home beach front. This would all be nicely topped off by being able to throw off the shackles of work and live a life of freedom away from the daily grind.

For others, the thought of growing old brings a sense of dread. Where will the money come from, will there be support, will I have a house, where will I live and of course the overwhelming sense if this burden will have to be carried by the children.
In many countries, caring for the elderly is both culturally and economically the responsibility of the children, which translates, interestingly enough, in to differences in attitudes between how Australia see their responsibility towards parents as compared to people from South Africa, or many parts of Asia.

I’ll give you an example of how this works. During one of my trips to Australia, I was on a ferry wandering around the city and amongst my fellow travellers were Asians, Kiwis, Brits, Americans. There was one of them who got on to the topic of migration (it follows me around) and that then led to whether or not each person in the group had considered bringing their parents to Australia. The two Brits, who were both ten years plus in Australia, were quite adamant: “We love having them here for the holidays but anything longer than a few weeks…no thanks” (said in the nicest possible way).

My fellow Chinese-Asian however, who had only been a Resident for a few years was quizzing me right away on the Parent Category, because they had already made up their minds that mum and dad were Australia bound. Given the prospects for the elderly in Asia, that is a pretty common and understandable reaction.

I suspect that most Australians have quite a different outlook on caring for their parents than people in a great many countries around the world do; mainly because they have far less to worry about. Australia as a country has always had a tradition of looking after its older generation, administered at the State level. Whether that is economically sensible with an ageing population has yet to be fully seen, but for now it works.

But how does it actually work?
Well, we start off with all the usual benefits that are afforded to residents and citizens, including access to healthcare through Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – subsidised by the Australian government, which, lets face it when you are heading into senior years is probably one of the most important ‘perks’ you will have. You will inevitably need it more and knowing you don’t have to pay for any of it, is quite a nice bonus.

Then on top of this, the state gives everyone over 65 that meets the criteria (see below), a liveable income in the form of superannuation; this is paid even if you continue to work past 65. Granted, it is not going to send you on luxury cruises every month, but it will keep you supported for the essentials. It was always intended to ‘top up’ the elderly who by that stage, one would hope, have accumulated their own assets, paid off a mortgage and have some savings.

There are varying rates of assistance, depending on your circumstances, but in basic terms, if you are married or in a de facto relationship and you both qualify under the criteria listed below, then each person would receive a fortnightly, which over a year would be equal to a combined income of AUD$15,561.60. Add this to a country with one of the lowest crime rates on earth (and falling), then it is easy to see why Australia is an attractive destination for not only the younger generation of migrants but their elders as well.
Any parent who has at least half or more of their children residing in Australia may apply. A Contributory Parent (subclass 143) is a permanent residency visa which is generally processed within 12 to 24 months before visa grant consideration, depending on requirements being met. There are some rules to qualify for this, which include the following:

The parent must be sponsored by a child who is a permanent resident or Australian citizen. The sponsor must be “settled” – generally the sponsor would need to have been lawfully resident in Australia for at least 2 years.
The applicant must pass the “balance of family test”. That is, the number of children who are lawfully and permanently resident in Australia must be:
Greater than, or equal to, the total number of children who are resident overseas; or
Greater than the greatest number of children who are resident in any single overseas country.
An assurance of support is required in all cases.
If you are thinking about making the move or have done it already, but want to know what might be available for your parents, by way of a safe and secure retirement, then perhaps you should get in touch.

Global Migration Solutions Sdn Bhd, can be contacted via its website www.PRforAustralia.com or e-mail us at enquiry@PRforAustralia.com or give us a call at +603 2142 5199.