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Pensioners score $250 boost

Regional pensioners will be able to apply for a new $250 bonus. Images: Getty

Pensioners living in rural, regional and remote New South Wales will have access to a $250 travel card in hopes it will help them stay connected with friends and family.

Around 80 pensioners in Coffs Harbour are currently testing the cards before applications for the regional seniors travel card open to the public on 29 January 2020. 

Studies have shown Australians older than 70 are the most likely to experience loneliness, and due to lower marriage rates and higher divorce levels, Australia’s seniors may also be lonelier than ever. 

To be eligible for the card, travellers need to have a Pensioner Concession Card or a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, and they need to live in regional NSW, which is considered to be outside Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong City Councils. 

The cards will be distributed from mid-February this year, and will be valid for 14 months from the day the card is issued. The regional program will be available for a two-year trial period over 2020 and 2021. 

Pensioners can use the card to pay for pre-booked NSW coaches, fuel Trainlink Regional trains and taxis.

To be eligible, you need to live in one of these local government areas:

  • Albury City Council

  • Armidale Regional Council

  • Ballina Shire Council

  • Balranald Shire Council

  • Bathurst Regional Council

  • Bega Valley Shire Council

  • Bellingen Shire Council

  • Berrigan Shire Council

  • Bland Shire Council

  • Blayney Shire Council

  • Bogan Shire Council

  • Bourke Shire Council

  • Brewarrina Shire Council

  • Broken Hill City Council

  • Byron Shire Council

  • Cabonne Council

  • Carrathool Shire Council

  • Central Coast Council

  • Central Darling Shire Council

  • Cessnock City Council

  • Clarence Valley Council

  • Cobar Shire Council

  • Coffs Harbour City Council

  • Coolamon Shire Council

  • Coonamble Shire Council

  • Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council

  • Cowra Shire Council

  • Dubbo Regional Council

  • Dungog Shire Council

  • Edward River Council

  • Eurobodalla Shire Council

  • Federation Council

  • Forbes Shire Council

  • Gilgandra Shire Council

  • Glen Innes Severn Council

  • Goulburn Mulwaree Council

  • Greater Hume Shire Council

  • Griffith City Council

  • Gunnedah Shire Council

  • Gwydir Shire Council

  • Hay Shire Council

  • Hilltops Council

  • Inverell Shire Council

  • Junee Shire Council

  • Kempsey Shire Council

  • Kiama Municipal Council

  • Kyogle Council

  • Lachlan Shire Council

  • Lake Macquarie City Council

  • Leeton Shire Council

  • Lismore City Council

  • Lithgow City Council

  • Liverpool Plains Shire Council

  • Lockhart Shire Council

  • Lord Howe

  • Maitland City Council

  • Mid-Coast Council

  • Mid-Western Regional Council

  • Moree Plains Shire Council

  • Murray River Council

  • Murrumbidgee Council

  • Muswellbrook Shire Council

  • Nambucca Shire Council

  • Narrabri Shire Council

  • Narrandera Shire Council

  • Narromine Shire Council

  • Oberon Council

  • Orange City Council

  • Parkes Shire Council

  • Port Macquarie-Hastings Council

  • Port Stephens Council

  • Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council

  • Richmond Valley Council

  • Shellharbour City Council

  • Shoalhaven City Council

  • Singleton Council

  • Snowy Monaro Regional Council

  • Snowy Valleys Council

  • Tamworth Regional Council

  • Temora Shire Council

  • Tenterfield Shire Council

  • Tweed Shire Council

  • Unincorporated Far West

  • Upper Hunter Shire Council

  • Upper Lachlan Shire Council

  • Uralla Shire Council

  • Wagga Wagga City Council

  • Walcha Council

  • Walgett Shire Council

  • Warren Shire Council

  • Warrumbungle Shire Council

  • Weddin Shire Council

  • Wentworth Shire Council

  • Wingecarribee Shire Council

  • Yass Valley Council

Are regional seniors more lonely than urban seniors? 

Despite the higher populations of urban hubs, seniors living in the cities report having higher loneliness levels than those living in regional hubs. 

Australians living in remote areas are also more likely to be lonely than those living in regional areas. 

“Regional cities and towns would appear to offer a better social environment for older residents, and while the triggers of social isolation are often personal factors – the death of a partner or close relative, the onset of a major health issue etc. – the attributes of the community in which they live appear to either protect against isolation or exacerbate the problem,” a University of South Australia study found. 

“The data suggest that moving away from a familiar neighbourhood – including retirement migration to the coast or other amenity destination – carries with it an elevated risk of social isolation.” 

The same study also found better transport services could boost social connection. 

However, it also found “unexpectedly, transport was a greater challenge for metropolitan residents”.

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