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Archives for Jodie Stewart

Quintessentially Australian

It was 2006, Grade 12 English and the latest assignment was a 10-minute speech on something that was ‘quintessentially Australian’. I remember being told that there was no right or wrong answer, but we had to show cause and enlighten the audience as to who or what made Australia iconic. There were about thirty of us in the class and only a few that I still remember, so I guess they got something right.

For example, one of my classmates gave a 10-minute history lesson on the Melbourne Cup and how the ‘race that stops the nation’ is the single greatest horse race in the world. All Australians come to a complete standstill on the first Tuesday in November at 3 pm. The entire nation watches the 3-minute race, why? Because we love an underdog. Phar Lap, Makybe Diva, can it get any more iconic than that?

Now I must admit, I felt pretty clever at the time and I thought my topic was unique, but still represented Australia. I don’t remember much of the speech, but it went a little like this… Remember, I was 17 at the time so don’t judge too harshly!

What is it to be Australian? Is it a lifestyle, a destination, a feeling or a thing? Something that is so ingrained in our daily life, that we overlook it, and don’t even give it a second thought. Our history is what makes us who we are and we often forget that our currency tells a story. The $50 note depicts Edith Cowan, Australian first female parliamentarian. AB “Banjo” Paterson is a feature on the $10 note, arguably Australia’s most famous poet. The Man from Snowy River appears in small text in the top left-hand corner. The $20 note, or Redback as it is affectionately known, has a portrait of Reverend John Flynn. He pioneered the world’s first aerial medical service, now known as the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Illustrated on our coins are native Australian animals, such as the echidna, lyrebird and platypus. Our national emblem, which includes the Australian Coat of Arms, Australian floral emblem (The Wattle) and native kangaroo and emu are depicted on the 50-cent coin. The $2 coin features a traditional Aboriginal tribal elder, the Southern Cross and Australian flora.

I did manage to prattle on for 10 minutes about our bank notes and the different icon Australians depicted on each one. I still stand by my initial argument, that our history makes us who we are. I wonder as we move into a digital age, how do we keep our history alive? We are moving away from physical money and into an era where you can pay for groceries on your watch. Do we have a sentimental attachment to currency, because it is part of our national history and culture? With so many different currencies all over the world, wouldn’t it be easier to be completely paperless? But then, what daily reminder will we have of where we come from and who shaped this great nation?

If you are interested in tailored financial advice, please contact us today. One of our advisers would be delighted to speak with you.

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What’s In A Name?

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has seen the Big 4 Banks come under fire for a number of things, including their ‘take it or leave it’ attitude to the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Funding (CTF) Act. In 2017, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) brought charges against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) for contravening the Act, and were treated to a cool $700 million penalty which barely made a dent in CBA’s fiscal 2018 cash profit of $9.9 billion.

The fallout from these charges and others alike, has resulted in an industry-wide crackdown on the enforcement of AML/CTF policies. Among other things, the Act mandates that you must identify and verify a customer’s full name, residential address and date of birth. While this seems pretty straight forward it’s causing headaches for customers who have used aliases in the past. John or Jack, Anthony or Tony, Amanda or Mandy, James or Jim and Susan or Sue are just a few examples of common aliases which have caused problems when adhering to AML/CTF obligations.

Different spelling variations of the same name have also been put under the microscope and in some cases, have required statutory declarations to confirm that the likes of Anne or Ann and Marie or Maree are one and the same person. Some financial institutions have gone as far as requiring your share holdings to be updated if your middle initial is only noted as ‘A’ on the registry, but your identification spells out your full middle name of ‘Albert’.

Locally, one of the problems we have had in the Rockhampton office is the change in suburbs as the city continues to expand. What was once Rockhampton is now broken up into several different suburbs such as Allenstown, North Rockhampton, Koongal etc. Although identification documents (Drivers Licence) might reflect the correct suburb of ‘Allenstown’ long standing bank accounts or shares acquired many moons ago may reflect the original suburb of ‘Rockhampton’. This small difference causes issues under the Act when identifying and verifying a client’s residential address.

It might be a good idea to do a bit of a tidy up of your financial affairs if you’ve had issues in the past with the spelling of your name or if you use an alias. Ensuring your address is up to date and your personal information matches your identification is another good habit to keep. A few places where we have encountered discrepancies include Wills, Power of Attorney documents, Holding Statements and Bank Statements.

Please note this article is provided as general advice only and has not taken your personal or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored financial advice, please contact us today. One of our advisers would be delighted to speak with you.

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Aged Care Who Cares?

Aged Care Who Cares? by Rachel Lane & Noel Whittaker

★★★★★

Book Review by Jodie Stewart

Plot

With the growth of the ageing population, aged care advice is needed today more than ever. The complexity surrounding aged care means it can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing for you and your loved ones. Aged Care Who Cares? is a guide for people looking to secure the best possible outcome for aged care. The information contained in the book helps you choose an option that not only meets your financial needs and objectives but also considers your emotional wellbeing.

Review

Aged Care Who Cares? is broken up into 4 different sections:

Care at Home, Retirement Communities, Residential Aged Care and Funding your Care.

Given around 75% of care provided is done so at home, I’ve decided to concentrate this review on Section 1, Care at Home.

Home Care Packages:

I found this to be the most interesting topic which probably stems from my own experience with aged care. My grandmother (70) still works full time and is only just beginning to consider retirement now. At present, she has no interest in moving into a retirement village or aged care facility and wants to stay in the family home as long as possible. Lane and Whittaker discuss the different types of home care available and the merit of each. These include; Home Care Packages (HCP), Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) Veterans’ Home Care (VHC) / Community Nursing and Private Care.

My grandmother’s doctor recently referred her for an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) which is key to accessing most government-funded aged care services. The purpose of an ACAT assessment is to determine the level of care you need. The assessor will speak to you about your day to day activities, the things you are comfortable doing yourself and things you may need assistance with. ACAT assessments remain valid indefinitely unless a time restriction has been applied to it. As with any government service, there is a waiting period to receive an ACAT assessment. If you are lucky, you will be assessed relatively quickly; however, if it is during the season of Aged Care (typically November to April) the wait period can be quite extensive. During these months, family come to visit. They see the change or detrition in their loved ones and take action to get them assistance. This then creates a surge in the need for ACAT assessments and the waiting begins.

As highlighted by Lane and Whittaker, there are four levels of Home Care Packages. Level 1 offers support to people with basic care needs, while level 4 offers support to people with high care needs. Although my dear nan has been assessed and ACAT have determined her level of care required, she now needs to join the National Prioritisation Queue with over 100,000 other Australians who need home care. The queue basically works on a ‘get what you’re given’ basis. You can opt for a lower level package while waiting for your approved package level. That is, if you are assessed to be a Level 4, which is the highest Level of Care and a Level 1 Care Package is available next, you will be assigned a Level 1 Package. Think of it like having a broken leg in the emergency department. You wait and wait to receive some relief but all the nurse can offer you is a Panadol. You take it because that is all that is on offer. You still have a broken leg and you still aren’t getting the care you need. That is the unfortunate position 40,000 consumers are in.

Granny Flats:

I was surprised to learn that granny flat arrangements aren’t as straightforward as people think. What springs to mind is a small flat or self-contained unit built on your children’s property but that isn’t always the case. In the eyes of Centrelink, a granny flat interest or right is where you pay for the right to live in a specific home for life. You can’t be a legal owner of that home and it is not part of your estate when you die. So, a granny flat arrangement is any kind of dwelling such as a room or living area in an existing home, not just those typically referred to as granny flats.

Lane and Whittaker touch on a few key considerations when entering into a granny flat arrangement.

Generally speaking, the amount you pay for a granny flat right or life interest should be market value. This payment can be the exchange of assets, money or both assets and money.

For example, you could transfer:

  • Ownership of your home but keep a lifelong right to live there or in another private property
  • Assets, including money, in return for a lifelong right to live in a home

Centrelink has deemed that if you pay less than $207,000 under your granny flat arrangement then you are not a homeowner. You will receive rent assistance, but the granny flat will count towards your assets under the asset test. If you paid more than $207,000 you are a homeowner, no rent assistance is afforded but the asset is exempt from asset tests.

It is important to ensure that you do not pay too much or too little when entering into a granny flat arrangement. If you pay too much, you can invoke Centrelink’s gifting rules where you give away an asset without getting something of at least equal value in return. The extra amount you have paid for the granny flat then becomes a deprived asset which impacts on your entitlements.

Recommendation

Aged care can be very tricky to navigate but Lane and Whittaker have done well to simplify it as much as possible. There are a number of options available to retirees, each with their own complexities. I recommend this book for those who wish to explore Aged Care options for themselves or loved ones.

Please note that this article provides general advice and has not taken into consideration your personal or financial circumstances. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today. One of our advisers would be delighted to speak to you.

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