31 July 2023

Griffith pensioner lobby group seeks renewal at critical juncture

| Oliver Jacques
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Col Beaton and Dianne Moore at a kitchen table

Col Beaton and Dianne Moore are looking for their successors. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

The main advocacy group representing pensioners in Griffith is seeking a new leadership team and members at a time when it says rural people need a strong voice more than ever.

Col Beaton, 71, and Dianne Moore, 79, president and secretary of the Griffith branch of the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of NSW Inc respectively, are on the lookout for successors after several years of distinguished service themselves. Both are juggling several other priorities, so want to see new blood take the reins to drive the organisation forward.

“Our former president Peter Knox said it was the best organisation he’s ever been involved in,” Ms Moore said.

“We need somebody new after all these years to inject some fresh ideas.”

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The local branch, which was started by Harold “Tiger” Goring more than 30 years ago, has been active in lobbying local, State and Federal Governments on issues that impact those on pensions and self-funded retirees – such as the cost-of-living crisis, treatment in aged care homes, public transport, health and housing.

Mr Beaton said the current group had been successful in helping to achieve key changes – such as the introduction of a weekly train service to Sydney, the reinstalment of a $250 travel card for seniors and improved lighting and walking paths at Griffith Retirement Village.

“We write a lot of submissions, we meet with council and we try and keep them all honest … we have good membership at the moment, best we’ve ever had. They’re loyal and turn up.”

The 71-year-old former public servant and soldier stressed that his organisation represented all pensioners, not just aged ones. This includes people of any age on the disability support pension.

“Anyone over 18 can join our group,” Ms Moore said. “I don’t think you even need to be on a pension. We’d like to see more younger people. At the moment, Wendy Sweeney (aged 69) is our youngest member.”

The cost of joining is just $15 per year and the group meets once a month.

Peter Knox

The late Peter Knox was a passionate CPSA member. Photo: Supplied.

“It’s very social; it’s a good way to keep active. You’ll also find out about things, benefits and schemes pensioners can access, that you might not know about otherwise,” Mr Beaton said.

He also said that being president had its benefits.

“It looks good on your resume; if you’re applying for work and you’ve got this community involvement, employers like that. You can use what you’re doing in the group as an example of what you’ve done, rather than just saying you’ve been retired for the past 10 years.”

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The president also gets to go to Sydney for the CPSA annual conference, where they can provide a Griffith perspective on statewide issues – such as the current cost-of-living crisis.

“People are looking at shelf prices at supermarkets and saying, ‘Oh my goodness’. Items are going up by $1 and $2 every week, that’s a lot for a pensioner,” Col’s wife Gwen said.

Mr Beaton said it was very important for people in rural areas to have strong and vocal advocacy, or they’d be ignored.

“A lot of people here are asset rich but money poor. I know a farmer who isn’t even entitled to a pensioner health card … even though he’s not doing real well … they don’t pay much attention to those of us who live west of the Blue Mountains.”

If you’re interested in taking a leadership role within the Griffith CPSA or just becoming a member, you can let Mr Beaton know by emailing him at: [email protected].

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