Northern Territory Concessions Review

Consultation has concluded

Consultation on the review of the NT Pensioner and Carer Scheme has now closed.

The Northern Territory Government undertook wide public consultation on all aspects of the current NT Pensioner and Carer Concession Scheme.

The review is intended to reform the scheme to make it fairer, more flexible, more efficient to manage and sustainable over the long term.

Since public consultation on the review began on July 10, Territory Families staff have conducted or attended 16 public forums, numerous stakeholder briefings and have responded to over 2 000 public enquiries by telephone. Thousands of survey forms were sent out and over 4000 have been returned so far. An online survey conducted via this website attracted over 670 responses and 25 comments were left on the guestbook. Approximately 100 people also sent their comments and feedback via email.

Click here to view the public consultation report.

Several major stakeholder organisations made comprehensive submissions to the review. Read the submissions from:

Two new schemes

In response to feedback, the government has developed two new schemes to replace the existing single scheme – the Northern Territory Concession Scheme and the Seniors Recognition Scheme.

The two schemes will be introduced from 1 July 2018, and no changes will affect existing members until that date.

The NT Concession Scheme will continue to support eligible pensioners, including aged pension recipients, with the cost of living.

The Seniors Recognition Scheme recognises the valuable contribution that seniors continue to make to the Northern Territory. It will give all senior Territorians 65 years and over, $500 a year in concessions. This is more than the government's election commitment of $350 a year for seniors.

Any Territorian 65 years of age and over may be eligible for both schemes.

For more details, go to the NT Concessions website.

Consultation on the review of the NT Pensioner and Carer Scheme has now closed.

The Northern Territory Government undertook wide public consultation on all aspects of the current NT Pensioner and Carer Concession Scheme.

The review is intended to reform the scheme to make it fairer, more flexible, more efficient to manage and sustainable over the long term.

Since public consultation on the review began on July 10, Territory Families staff have conducted or attended 16 public forums, numerous stakeholder briefings and have responded to over 2 000 public enquiries by telephone. Thousands of survey forms were sent out and over 4000 have been returned so far. An online survey conducted via this website attracted over 670 responses and 25 comments were left on the guestbook. Approximately 100 people also sent their comments and feedback via email.

Click here to view the public consultation report.

Several major stakeholder organisations made comprehensive submissions to the review. Read the submissions from:

Two new schemes

In response to feedback, the government has developed two new schemes to replace the existing single scheme – the Northern Territory Concession Scheme and the Seniors Recognition Scheme.

The two schemes will be introduced from 1 July 2018, and no changes will affect existing members until that date.

The NT Concession Scheme will continue to support eligible pensioners, including aged pension recipients, with the cost of living.

The Seniors Recognition Scheme recognises the valuable contribution that seniors continue to make to the Northern Territory. It will give all senior Territorians 65 years and over, $500 a year in concessions. This is more than the government's election commitment of $350 a year for seniors.

Any Territorian 65 years of age and over may be eligible for both schemes.

For more details, go to the NT Concessions website.

Please provide your comments here. Your comments may be moderated in line with our moderation policy. 

I found the survey hard to do using an iPad. Could you make sure any future surveys are tablet compatible.

Penni Tastula over 2 years ago

One of the questions in the review survey is "Have you seen the NT Concession Review Discussion Paper?" Surely this document should have been sent out with the survey form so that respondents understood why the scheme is being reviewed. The government have done themselves a disservice by not doing so and have caused considerable and avoidable concern in the senior community. As a result a petition is being circulated here in Alice Springs protesting against the review. Not a desired outcome I would think. In addition I question the sincerity of the consultation process. The community forum in Alice Springs is on Thursday 24 August from11am to 12pm. On the same day, as advertised in the Seniors Month Calendar compiled and sent out by the NT Government, there is a Seniors Month day bus trip from 9.30am to 4.30pm which will take around 50 seniors out of town. A trip that was advertised before the surveys were sent out. Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing? I believe there is good reason to review the concession scheme however a tad more care and forethought about how it does so would be good. PS My wife and I have been here for forty years.

10 pound pom over 2 years ago

My husband and I came to the territory in 1960 and in all that time we have not been on any benefits except for the pensioner concession scheme. We have five generations living and working in Darwin and contributing to the economy. As self funded retirees we are finding it difficult at times and appreciate the scheme. We would like to see it return to the way it was before the previous government fiddled with it. I was unable to do the suvey for my husband online as it was telling me I had already done it so the figures I submitted are wrong because most accounts are in his name. In closing I have to agree wih mos of the comments of Chandra Seneviratne. Cheers Diane Connelly

Diane Connelly over 2 years ago

“How It Is Unfair” I do not agree with your presumption that the Northern Territory Pensioner and Carer Concession Scheme is “unfair”. In the NT Government’s (NTG) analysis, no mention is made of the make-up of the population, or the statistics that were included, to arrive at the NTG’s rhetorical comment “How It Is unfair”. It is mentioned that 5,000 members did not make a claim at all. Who makes up this 5,000 number? Are Aboriginal members included? How many of those Aboriginal members have benefits under the Indigenous Essential Services Program or some other program?The document that the NTG has sent to Seniors and Carers is not a genuine survey. It has several leading and rhetorical questions to serve what appears to be the NTG’s pre-determined decision to disband the Scheme. For this reason, I will not be completing this questionnaire.It is stated in the review document that “a number of members who use much more power and/or water than the Territory average”. Is it so difficult for the NTG to drill down within the statistics to find out who uses more than the “Territory average” and make inquiries as to why this is so?The NTG clearly does not understand that compared with the $30 million that is said to be what the Scheme “costs” (really an unfortunate and undesirable word to use), I would say that those Seniors who choose to live in the Territory, are doing the Territory a great favour and are not a “cost” to the Territory at all. In the case of those who were not born in the Territory, many of them would have brought up their families and worked in the Territory for most of their lives. They choose to give the community their experience, volunteer their services and also spend their retirement income within the Territory. I believe the Territory is richer for that - not $30 million poorer as the NTG seems to imply.The fact that the NTG has let some unscrupulous travel agents steal and allowed a few Seniors to misuse the Scheme should not be reasons for the NTG to penalise all Seniors and Carers. I say to the NTG, please find out who is misusing the Scheme and deal with them or disqualify them from the Scheme, and ensure that the rules are tighter and clearer to prevent this happening in the future.Eligibility should not depend on whether Seniors are employed or retired from work, homeowners or renters, live in the city, towns or rural areas. They have contributed and continue to contribute to society and the Territory, and are entitled to the benefits that the Scheme has to offer.I believe the NTG is treading a very dangerous path. I need hardly remind the current Government that the previous Government decided to target Seniors and Carers after their stunning victory in 2012. They decided to cut concessions to Seniors and increase electricity prices – and see what happened to them after 4 years! As a long-term resident of the Territory, I would strongly advise the NTG not to eat into the political capital that it brought into office after the disastrous CLP mob’s effort at Governance. The NT population might do the same to them at the next election! I think it is perhaps appropriate to quote from a report published about the contribution of Seniors, by the Australian National University way back in 2004:“Far from being net receivers of help and support, older people are, in fact, net providers, at least up to the age of 75 years. They provide childcare, financial, practical and emotional assistance to family members including helping people outside the household with the tasks of daily living. Such unpaid caring and voluntary work adds up to a significant proportion of GDP, around seven per cent on some measures (Ranzijn et al. 2002; De Vaus et al. 2003). Grandparenting has become an important social role in an age when people tend to have more living parents than children. Not only does it benefit grandparents themselves who find that grandparenthood is an important aspect of their lives, but it also appears to benefit grandchildren substantially.” (The benefits of an ageing population - Judith Healy, Australian National University - Discussion Paper Number 63, March 2004)On a positive note, instead of scapegoating Seniors and Carers, I suggest that the NTG, with the assistance of Council On The Ageing (COTA) NT and the NT Carers Association, set up a consultative group to develop a Policyfor Senior Territorians and Carers. This was done in Tasmania in 2005 and they are now into the third phase of such a plan. The Tasmanian Government launched ‘Strong, Livable Communities: Tasmania’s Active Ageing Plan 2017-2022’ in May 2017, identifying 19 priority initiatives across health, lifelong learning, participation and security.(http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/divisions/csr/policy/Policy_Work/active_ageing_plan)I hope my observations are of use to the NTG in arriving at an acceptable policy with regard to Senior Territorians and Carers.Good luck!Chandra Seneviratne

Chandra Seneviratne over 2 years ago

I would like to keep my concessions but would give up my travel concession as we are no longer remote and airfares are competative. I like the concession on my bill not a lunp sum which is being offered as for me l will manage it better. Without the concession l may not manage so well and for the people rorting the system there should be a cut off point of $2000 no discount should apply aafter this as you have to say that these people are not trying to manage their power or water.

Kathlyn Que Noy over 2 years ago

I commented just a short while ago but forgot to mention that I am on a Carer allowance which is a smaller amount every fortnight but it qualifies me for the Concessions. I worked full time & since becoming my husbands carer & qualifying for the concessions I have been able to reduce my hours & we can still manage reasonably well. We are here for medical access & to be nearer family for support both ways. It is great to have family near for the extra help & also to provide assistance with caring for grandchildren in reverse. I also volunteer so that some organisations can still be viable because of not paying for staff.

Sandy over 2 years ago

I have read some of the comments left by other people & totally agree with most sentiments. Leave the scheme alone or add more concessions but tighten up the rules that allow rorting, not by the people who need the concessions but the ones who administer it, eg Travel Agents, big farms with a concession holder living on the property, wealthy people with a concession holder living with them etc. The other big thing I have major doubts about is a loaded Debit Card, NO NO NO, dont even think about it please.

Sandy over 2 years ago

Having read all the comments below I can only add to this by saying I agree with everyone's sentiments. In regard to a debit/credit card it is a stupid idea, leave the scheme in its current form. I have lived here since 1966 had my kids here they live here so do my grandkids. I want to see my days out here, but the cost of living is ridiculously high and it may push me out. Don't lose Senior Territorians who have been the backbone of the place, and all the newbies that relocate to be with children and grandchildren. We contribute in so many ways putting money back into the economy and giving back to the community. For goodness sakes I hope that common sense prevails. As someone else said before, politicians will be old one day. Fortunately for you you'll retire on some ridiculous pension that normal people will never have a hope in hell of getting. DE Coolalinga

Dee1199 over 2 years ago

Some reasons for the previous NT government to loss their jobs are axing the benefits in the Pensioner & Carer Concessions Scheme and the scrapping of the Arafura games. My family and I have lived here in Darwin for 32 years now and we love the place very much. My wife and I are both retired after working for more than two decades, forcibly because my wife have been diagnosed with BC, underwent chemo therapy and extreme medical treatment and still being cared of. We owned our place for working hard and now that we are only living on a carer pension and New Start Allowance, we hardly cope to pay the bills. The present scheme is just appropriate for us and a great help. The concessions are automatically deducted. To change it with the idea of a debit card sounds ridiculous and unacceptable. What is the difference of the cost of processing automatic deductions and using debit card for payment? Both have to be processed... I believe that changing the scheme will only change NT population. We are still here because the present concession is helping us to cope the livelihood, without it southern states are the choice to live with. No choice but to say good bye to the place we love and just wave our hands to the good politicians (?) driving us out.

Patrik over 2 years ago

Current concessions are adequate and I certainly don't agree in cutting any of the concessions currently offered. The idea is to encourage seniors to stay in the Territory which these concessions assist in doing. Most of us have lived and contributed to the Territory economy for 40 plus years and more and don't want to leave but if these concessions are cut in any way some of us will be forced to leave as the cost of living up here is far too expensive. Besides, I'm sure the number of seniors who live here would be contributing to the Territory's economy far in excess of the $30 million you claim that it costs to operate the concessions program!Surely we are far more important than a stupid museum that's going to cost $50 million plus!!If it's good enough to pour billions into aboriginal housing over years and still ongoing why is it so hard to cough up $30 million for seniors!!Not to mention the millions poured into sporting complexes which are rarely used except by a certain few!!AS Berry Springs

As over 2 years ago

The whole idea of the Concession Scheme when it was first introduced in the NT, was to assist Seniors with their costs so that they would remain in the Territory, and to value them as important members of community. It was not intended as a welfare measure. As a long term Territorian, I am very concerned about this review. Is this just a cost cutting exercise in the guise of fairness?There has been no direct communication from the Government or the Department as has been promised. Many Seniors do not have access to or a great knowledge of internet sites. Much more communication is required. I have not heard a peep from my local member. Having read the report on the first few consultations, and having been at a couple of these meetings, I note some different interpretations to those of us in the audience. Very little has been said about the anger in the room at the proposed changes, particularly the idea of a debit/basics card. A debit card has been soundly disagreed with, nowhere have I heard any word that it should have been explained better. In any meeting I have attended and any discussions with other Seniors, not one have given the idea any credibility. It just makes it easier for Public servants, it offers no better system for Seniors. Currently the system assists Seniors as a budgeting tool and works well. If there are some taking advantage of electricity concessions, then place a cap on that area. That would be fair.In regards to those on Communities, the only possible issue could be travel. Using the Scheme for intrastate travel could be one way of addressing any perceived unfairness. However, monitoring of this could be difficult. Those on Communities do not own their own homes, pay no rates, receive subsidized housing and in reality are not likely to want to leave the NT. It was stated in the Consultation update, that Indigenous may not get as much benefit as non-indigenous, however the point of this scheme is not meant to be a black/white issue it is about assistance with costs of living in the NT. If a senior owns a home or a car or need glasses, indigenous or non-indigenous, that is what the assistance is for.The Scheme is not broken, it needs some tweaking, that is all.

GlendaS over 2 years ago

Currrent concessions are most helpful and appriate to relieve the cost of living in the NT for non- working seniors.Power and water, mvr, rates , travel should all be maintained - with a reasonable cap on power and water concessions to stop rorting ! Beleive a qualifying period of two years residency in NT is appropriate to qualify!

Mal the tourist over 2 years ago

I arrived in the NT in December 1989 as an RAAF member and discharged in 1995. I have been a shop manager, sheet metal worker and a security guard in the years since. I have volunteered my time maintaining the Flying Doctor aircraft at the Katherine Aviation museum, and am currently act as an unpaid baby minder for my kids. Living in the Territory has been one of the highlights of my life, and if finances allow, I will end my life here.

Leaky Longlegs over 2 years ago

I have lived and worked in Darwin since 1980, retiring from our tourism business at age 58, as a self funded retiree. Early retirement enable me to fully care for my wife, but as her medical conditioned worsened, so did our financial position. Last year her doctor recommended assistance with a carers payment, which then allowed access to the NT Pensioner & Carers Concessions Scheme in its current state. The allowance for power and water has made life a bit easier, particularly the cost of running the oxygen machine. The previous schemes had more benefits than the current one, but if the Gunner Govt was to reduce this scheme any further, then it would be either "Back to Work" for me OR Turn Off the wife's oxygen machine??? Seniors and Carers need support. Neville

Neville Bowley over 2 years ago

I am not a senior, but I am a Carer for a family member with severe disabilities. Having concessions on power/water and rego/dl really helps take the pressure off since I cannot get a regular job (caring IS my job). Going by the other comments, the scheme seems to be working for most of us as it is. I hope things don't change to our detriment. Thanks.

territorygal over 2 years ago

I forgot to mention that we also contribute to NT by babysitting and helping our 3 adult "kids" to go to work and contribute to the overall development of the NT. My current employment is as a Work Health and Safety Officer with a small civil works company so am still contributing to NT in a very beneficial way. Please leave the scheme alone - unless you want to make it even betterJohn PriorKarama

John Prior over 2 years ago

At 71 years old I am semi retired. My wife is only 63 but fully "retired". Have been in NT since 1978 living in Gove then Darwin working for Commonwealth and NT governments. Darwin is not cheap but we manage to live OK without having to worry about food v power etc, but we cannot afford to take trips away. Although I have a Commonwealth Super Scheme pension and work part time (12 hours a week) we rely on the Concession scheme. Especially the rebate on PAWA and car rego. I have never used the airfare scheme as we cannot afford the other costs associated with travel away from home. We are careful with PAWA for instance only run air con if really needed then only a few hours a day.It would be extremely detrimental to me if the concession scheme were reduced or indeed removed for people like me who still do some work ( and still pay tax)The fact that a few have rorted the system should not in any way be allowed to mean concessions are cut. I urge the NTG to leave the system aloneJohn PriorKarama

John Prior over 2 years ago

Hi I would prefer that you leave the concessions for seniors as they are. If there are a few rorting the scheme lease find another way to stop them doing so. The scheme works as it is for me with concession payments taken out at the time of bill presented. I have been volunteering in Darwin since coming from Melbourne to be with family 4 years ago. I volunteer for Driver Primary School in their kitchen/garden program also for Palmerston golf pro am last year. Also I volunteer with the salvos Palmerston 1 day per week in their op shop and have been doing so for 3 1/2 years.Please leave the system which I feel works for the majority of seniors alone and do not need to be stressed about changes you are considering making.Thank you Helen Twomey

Helen Twomey over 2 years ago

Hi I would prefer to have the NT concession scheme to remain the same. It already works fine for me and consider other methods should be taken if there are a few people who are routing the scheme.I have now been in Darwin for 4 years to be with family and during that time have volunteered for Driver Primary School volunteering in their Kitchen/Garden program, also volunteered to Palmerston golf pro am as a volunteer and am still volunteering 1 day per week at Salvos Palmerston in their op shop. I feel I have been giving back to the community through this work.I do not like the idea that every so often you feel change must be made - I need t feel certainty in life and feel this review is quite stressing to me and others of similar age in Darwin.Thank you Helen Twomey

Helen Twomey over 2 years ago

A further thought. I neglected to mention the Carers who are also intended beneficiaries of this scheme. Carers may or may not be seniors and whilst they deserve every recognition perhaps it is better to separate the Pensioner & the Carer as each may have different needs and the benefits should be assessed & determined separately.

Steve Brennan over 2 years ago