Have you seen Benetas in the news lately? Heard your favourite Benetas home was a media star? You can find copies of our appearances in the press here, plus breaking news stories, the latest happenings at Benetas and interesting stories about aged care in general.

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05 September 2013

Victorian seniors were invited to wear a touch of glamour and join Benetas for High Tea at the prestigious Hotel Windsor as part of the 2013...

Victorian seniors were invited to wear a touch of glamour and join Benetas for High Tea at the prestigious Hotel Windsor as part of the 2013 Victorian Seniors Festival.

Last year over 200 seniors joined us during the Festival to enjoy the Windsor Hotel’s renowned high tea of freshly baked scones with jam and cream, exquisite pastries and finger sandwiches on tiered silver stands. Due to the popularity of last year's event we are holding two high tea events during the Seniors Festival this year. We were amazed when both events sold out within less than two weeks of our tickets going on sale.

While this was a terrific response and the event is a wonderful way for Benetas to celebrate and recognise the contribution of our seniors, we do apologise to those people who were unable to purchase a ticket.

If you have missed out on a seat at the Benetas High Tea events, the good news is that the Windsor Hotel invites all seniors to book high tea with them directly during October to receive 20% off . All you need to do is present your Seniors card. For more information contact the Windsor Hotel on 03 9633 6001.

03 July 2013

Did you know there are currently three million people over 65, living in Australia? And unless the workforce is supported to grow, 279,000...

Did you know there are currently three million people over 65, living in Australia? And unless the workforce is supported to grow, 279,000 Australians will be without aged care by 2050.

This is the message coming from the 3 Million Reasons Campaign. Australia needs to invest in aged care to ensure that everyone has access to high quality aged care services.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the peak body for age service providers in Australia, is running the 3 Million Reasons campaign. LASA works with its members, of whom Benetas is one, to enable older Australians to live well.

It costs around $300 per day to house a prisoner, $700 per day to stay in an Australian hospital and yet a resident of an aged care facility is funded a maximum of $180. What does that say about our treatment of older Australians? Our aged care workers do their best, but the cost of providing care is not matched by funding.

By joining the 3 Million Reasons campaign you will send a clear message to decision makers that age services matter to you. We need to support workers across the industry to provide the quality care that every Australian deserves.

To get involved in the campaign, go to and join to show your support for an industry that needs a lot of extra attention.

03 July 2013

In 2012, students from St Francis Xavier Primary School in Frankston commenced a visiting program at Benetas St Paul’s Court in Frankston. Each...

In 2012, students from St Francis Xavier Primary School in Frankston commenced a visiting program at Benetas St Paul’s Court in Frankston. Each fortnight a number of students would join the residents for one on one visits and bring their iPads.

The residents were fascinated by the various apps and programs that they were able to trial and use on their own or with the students. Much to the surprise of Benetas St Paul’s Court staff and residents, earlier this year the students presented the residents with their own iPad to keep and share. The students raised funds through their ‘Make a Difference’ program at school and by free-dress days, to be able to purchase the iPad for the residents.

Sonia Thomson, St Paul’s Court Lifestyle Coordinator said that students had certainly achieved their goal of making a difference.

“Our residents have just loved having the students visit them, and the iPad is an added bonus. Now that we have our own iPad, we can add extra activities to our dementia lifestyle program. The music and simple games that are on the iPad really engaged the attention of our residents living with dementia. We can’t thank the students from St Francis Xavier enough for this wonderful gift,” Sonia said.

03 July 2013

May saw almost 200 Benetas volunteers and staff grace the Ballroom at Rippon Lea Mansion in Elsternwick for the annual Benetas Volunteer Thank You...

May saw almost 200 Benetas volunteers and staff grace the Ballroom at Rippon Lea Mansion in Elsternwick for the annual Benetas Volunteer Thank You Luncheon.

As part of National Volunteer Week, every year Benetas thanks our almost 400 volunteers for their dedication and support. It is also a time to reflect on the amazing contributions of volunteers in our communities.

Benetas is very lucky to have as many volunteers as we do – in fact in 2012 volunteers contributed over 28,000 hours of their time. This year, the Benetas Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Noreen Donohoe from the Benetas Support Office.

The judging panel included external representatives from Volunteering Victoria and the Boroondara Volunteer Resource Centre. They acknowledged Noreen’s regular and long standing commitment of providing administration assistance to our Support Office located in Hawthorn East.

Members of the People Development team who nominated Noreen for the award said, “Working tirelessly, Noreen has helped the Human Resources and administration staff ensure that they attract and retain quality people through a variety of initiatives and projects. By doing so, Noreen has made a really positive impact on the lives of all Benetas clients.”

Ellen Flint, General Manager People Development, said “On behalf of all Benetas staff, I say a huge thank you to all our Volunteers. They add an incredible amount of value to the services we offer, and we couldn’t support our clients without their input.”

Find out on how you can become a volunteer at Benetas

03 July 2013

Benetas has helped people with dementia find their voice through song, in a recent research project.

Music therapy has been used for people...

Benetas has helped people with dementia find their voice through song, in a recent research project.

Music therapy has been used for people living with dementia, yet few studies have examined the use of choral singing as a psychosocial intervention for people with dementia living in residential aged care. In response to this, Benetas piloted a trial of a Choir at Gladswood Lodge in Brunswick, for residents with dementia.

The Forgotten Voices pilot study was commissioned and funded by Benetas and undertaken by the National Ageing Research Institute, with twelve participants from Gladswood Lodge. As part of the study Youthworx, a Melbourne-based youth media enterprise, was hired to film the choir sessions.

As a result of the success of the study, Benetas has implemented a Dementia Therapy Choir on an ongoing basis at both Benetas Gladswood Lodge and Benetas Colton Close, thanks to funding from the Collier Charitable Trust. Alan Gruner, Benetas Research Consultant, said that staff feedback on the choir was generally very positive.

“There were a number of individuals who became really involved with the choir and benefited from it greatly. Resident, Guido, was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and little interest in organised activities. Guido was initially reluctant to join the choir, but after just one season, it became apparent how much enjoyment he got out of singing – he has a really beautiful singing voice! Since joining the choir, he smiles more, is more engaged with people and his mood has improved considerably. It is an amazing thing to see,” Alan said.

Gladswood Lodge held a Premiere Event, where the film was screened, with people from the choir invited to walk the red carpet. We hope to roll out the program at all facilities.

View the short film Forgotten Voices or for a full copy of the research report here.

07 June 2013

Benetas was last night awarded Bronze in the prestigious Australasian Reporting Awards, at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Benetas received a...

Benetas was last night awarded Bronze in the prestigious Australasian Reporting Awards, at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Benetas received a Bronze Award for its 2011/2012 Annual Report titled ‘In Good Company’. Benetas was one of a number of not-for-profit organisations recognised at the award ceremony. It is the second year in a row Benetas has been recognised by the Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA) for its Annual Report.

Benetas has a strong focus on ensuring transparency and accountability through its reporting. CEO Sandra Hills said the 2011/2012 Annual Report focused on not only reporting on financial and business information, but also showcased the integral part of Benetas’ work – the services and support it provides to over 4,000 older Victorians and their families each year.

“We are delighted to be awarded with the Bronze Award in the ARA Awards process for the second year running. Each year we work hard to report on our work in a valuable way for our stakeholders. As a not-for-profit, it is vital to balance running a business, with being social responsible. We believe our 2011/2012 report find that perfect balance,” Ms Hills said.

Read the full media release here.


27 May 2013

The Anglican Aged Care Services Group trading as Benetas operates within the aged care sector as a not-for-profit service provider – delivering...

The Anglican Aged Care Services Group trading as Benetas operates within the aged care sector as a not-for-profit service provider – delivering residential care, housing and retirement living, community care and direct care. Benetas operates within a complex financial structure, with various government grants and funding arrangements, client payments and donations included in revenue streams, and a wide range of associated complex reporting arrangements. Benetas is expecting significant growth across all aspects of business sites (office) facilities, number of clients, client type and range of services.

Benetas is seeking to appoint a Solution Partner who understands and can support Benetas’ planned growth strategy within the aged care services market. Benetas’ intention is to improve effectiveness and efficiency of its operational processes by implementing an integrated business and service delivery system and technology framework across its business areas. Benetas preference is for a Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) product set – with low level of customisations. Benetas would seek to engage with a Prime Contractor to manage system integration if more than one product set is required.

To obtain a copy of the expression of interest documents or to submit a query about the EOI please email  

A briefing session for interested parties has been arranged for Thursday 6 June at 14:00 – 16:00 – please advise attendance by emailing your company name and attendees’ names to 

The EOI will close on 1 July 14:00 – refer to the EOI documentation for document lodgement arrangements.

21 May 2013

What’s your Windsor story? To commemorate the 130th anniversary of Melbourne’s most cherished hotel, the Windsor is asking the community to share...

What’s your Windsor story? To commemorate the 130th anniversary of Melbourne’s most cherished hotel, the Windsor is asking the community to share their memories and memorabilia. From wedding photographs, parking receipts or an amusing anecdote, the hotel would love to hear from you.

Material can be submitted by regular post to: The Marketing Manager, The Hotel Windsor, 111 Spring Street, Melbourne, 3000 or by email to

Read more about the call for memorabilia here

26 March 2013

Every Monday at Benetas Dowell Court in East Ivanhoe, hallways are filled with laughter and squeals of delight. Who’s responsible? That’s Benetas...

Every Monday at Benetas Dowell Court in East Ivanhoe, hallways are filled with laughter and squeals of delight. Who’s responsible? That’s Benetas’ youngest volunteers: 14 month old Amelia and her three year old brother Ben.

Their mum, Sally, had always wanted to volunteer and when Amelia was just a few months old, Sally had three days free when Ben was at day care.

“When we first started coming to Dowell Court it was just me and Amelia. It was absolutely wonderful,” explained Sally.

“Amelia would sit on everyone’s lap and have lots of cuddles. Once she started crawling, the residents would sit in a circle and watch her crawl from one person to the next. Now she is walking she just shows off and runs up to everyone giving them big hugs.”

When Sally got a new job at the end of 2012, she started bringing Ben. “The highlight for Ben was giving each resident a gift for Christmas. He is at that age where he thinks that he doesn’t have to share. When he gave out the gifts and the residents made a huge deal about it, he was really happy. He still talks about it.”

There were many reasons why Sally wanted to volunteer at Benetas Dowell Court, but the main reason was to give Ben and Amelia a chance to build relationships with older people.

“Amelia and Ben do not have grandparents of their own so I really love that they get to interact with all the residents every week. I think they have adopted some residents as their grandparents already!

“Benetas Dowell Court is perfect for us. Everyone is so friendly and caring. I wanted to volunteer somewhere the kids and I could keep visiting for years to come and we have that at Benetas. My children now have the opportunity to grow up here and keep relationships with staff and the residents,” Sally said.

Find out more about volunteering at Benetas.

26 March 2013

After providing housing and independent living since our inception in 1948, Benetas has now expanded its services into Retirement Living.


After providing housing and independent living since our inception in 1948, Benetas has now expanded its services into Retirement Living.

Dalkeith Heights Retirement Village is nestled between the central activity district of Traralgon and the Traralgon Railway Conservation Reserve. Currently home to 75 happy residents, the village currently has 74 homes completed, with the potential for up to 150 home to be developed. At the heart of the village is an award-winning Community Centre with a pool, theatre, billiard room, cafe and bar.

The village is a safe and secure place for residents to enjoy their retirement years, and has a real sense of community. Paul and wife Sue have been living at Dalkeith Heights for over a year now. “I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, you couldn’t pay me a million bucks to leave,” Paul said.

Until an amalgamation in late 2012 with Grace Bruce, a local provider of aged and retirement services in Gippsland, Benetas provided aged care services, housing and Independent Living Units. This is the first time Benetas has moved into retirement living.

Ms Sandra Hills, Benetas CEO, said that the organisation was very excited to be moving into this new area.

“Benetas is one of the leading not-for-profit aged care providers in Victoria. We have been committed to moving into retirement living for some time, and the Dalkeith Heights Retirement Village was the perfect introduction for Benetas into this area,” Ms Hills said.

“Dalkeith Heights is a beautiful village. The community atmosphere makes the village a wonderful place to be. We are very proud to have this Retirement Village as the first of our retirement services.

“Benetas now offers two residential facilities, Community Care and Benetas at Home in the Gippsland area. With the introduction or retirement living into Gippsland, this now means Benetas can offer a full suite of services to people in the local community,” Ms Hills said.

25 March 2013

“Older Women’s Perceptions” Report- 7 March 2013

Noelene Brown Speech- 26 mins

“Older Women’s Perceptions” Report- 7 March 2013

Noelene Brown Speech- 26 mins

Thank you. Hello everyone, a couple of decades is right. In fact I’ve just celebrated my 50th year in show business. Thank you. It’s no mean feat in Australia spending 50 years earning a living as an actor, I can assure you. We’re not all over there in Hollywood. A lot of us have stayed here and fought the good fight. I worked overseas for a little while, and I was so desperately home sick for my own country that I came back, and I haven’t moved from these shores, except for a little holiday now and again.

First of all I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we meet on today.

As Australia’s first Ambassador for Ageing, it’s been a wonderful experience for me. You may not know that’s who I am. I might just let you know, I’m not only Noelene Brown, actor, I’m Australia’s first and only Ambassador for Ageing. So I represent an ageing community and that’s fair enough because I’m ageing as well. I’m very much part of the demographic. I have to tell everyone how old I was at last birthday, 74, because I think it’s only fair that everybody knows that I am part of that ageing demographic.

So a lot of things in this research would resonate with me.

When I first started my career, I didn’t become an actress straight away. First of all, when I was at school, you got to go back to the 50s when a lot of you would have been at school. We were trained to jobs that we would expect to have- which were probably a typist, if we were lucky enough we might have been a nurse, or we would have worked in shops.

So I was a rather naughty girl at school, so I left the school I was in my first year because they’d asked me to repeat because of my naughtiness. And I said no, not on your life. So I went to another school where we were taught to be stenographers and typists, and you did business principles, and typing with ancient “Olivetti” [brand of typewriter] with covers on the top to music. Do you remember all of that? Now the ridiculous thing is, the keys on the typewriter are all like that, so the keys wouldn’t stick together. But what have we got on our computers and our phones and everything now, the same keyboard, which makes no sense to me at all.

I wasn’t really a naughty girl; I just had that look on my face. So I was always out in the hall. Anyway, I couldn’t wait to leave school. I was 15 years of age. And it upset my family, they actually wanted me to stay and do my matriculation. But no, I just wanted to get out and they were ______ because we didn’t have much money at home, and my mother had been very ill, and to keep her, my father gave up a year of work, unpaid leave, so he could care of her. I’d like to say I felt the need to bring some money into the house, but I just actually wanted to go out and buy earrings and stuff like that.

So, I went to work at the age of 15. And I was lucky because I got a job in a municipal library in (my local town) which was a couple of suburbs away from where I lived. My first pay check was three pounds 10 shillings a week. Now if I didn’t get the bus to get to work, it was just a bit too far to walk and get there in time, if I had to catch a taxi, it took most of the money, I was at three pounds 10. And of course I would have been paying board, as we all did in those days. So wages were very very very low. So I was in the library for a number of years. I liked it, it was a great job. I had lots of opportunities to learn because to me a library is a university. So I was getting an education in this wonderful place.

There was a wonderful woman, who was a mentor to me, the Chief Librarian. And the Chief Librarian was also a talented painter, had a bit of skill in that regard myself. But she thought I would be better as an actor because I used to go to the shows and come in and do the sketches that I’d seen on stage. So she encouraged me to become an actor and join the local theatre group which was called “The Puppet playhouse”, so called because it only seated 70 people but it was my first experience of real life theatre and going there and being in a show. So I didn’t go to university to learn to be an actor, I was thrown off the deep end in the swimming pool and I had to learn to swim.

It was a wonderful experience which she gave me, she encouraged me, and we’re still friends. Now that woman is 13 years older than I am, so she’s 87. And she still paints, she’s had a few problems with her health but she still exhibits and I think that’s wonderful because that’s another skill she had in her life as a famous librarian in Sydney. A famous and terrifying one I’m told, but for me she was a wonderful person.

I’ve got to speak to you; it’s about women in the work force. I’ve talked about myself, and actors always will, but that’s all about me. But I have actually seen the cities around Australia grow into these exciting places that they are today. Melbourne just keeps getting more exciting. Brisbane, I don’t know if you’ve been there, Brisbane used to be just a quiet little country town now it’s an exciting wonderful city.

I’ve seen fashions come and go, just like you. Remember the wedge style shoes of 2010, they were called the platforms in 1970, and here they are again. I remember the first year I brought home very very very high shoes, with a platform and a very high heel. And my mother said when you’re sick of those shoes, don’t ever throw them away, you’ll never believe that you wore them. Fashions have changed, and they do as I say come and go. We all remember what we were doing when the first man walked on the moon, and when President Kennedy was assassinated and the day the Second World War ended.

I do remember the day the King died, it must have been the 50s, was it? The early 50s. Our head Mistress stood on the steps at assembly, the assembly was outside and she said “The King is dead” and we all laughed. We didn’t laugh because the king was dead, we laughed because the wind had blown her dress up and you could see she was wearing bloomers. We did have some strange educators. In the 40s and 50s I can only assume that a lot of them were off to the war and had found other things to do. That was probably why I had that look on my face.

One of the most important changes I’ve seen is this attitude and behaviour of women over the years. So in the 50s as I was saying, things were very different. We were mostly conservative, we dressed conservatively, and young women wore the same clothes as older women. I’ve got a photograph of myself at the age of 15 in a dress a 40 year old woman would have worn and a hat as well. And I certainly remember as a 14 year old or 12 year old going to get a first perm. Remember the torture, now this was in the days of having an electric perm, so it might have been a bit before that. Hairdressers put all these things on me and one of them actually burnt the top of my ear off, and I thought that was supposed to happen, that’s what happened when you got a perm, the smell of burning flesh. So I’m glad to say you don’t have to have those things anymore.

Today women over 40 wear whatever they like, their hair styles are wild they dress in clothes that would have been considered outlandish, they hold senior positions in local and federal governments, and they juggle working careers with family obligations and much more. We have a female Prime Minister. We have a female Governor General. We’ve had female Premiers. It seems that we can do anything.

So speaking of the trends of days gone by, if this was the 70s or 80s, I’d be here; actually it’s a bit before that I think the 50s and the 60s. I’d probably have a little shade of blue in my hair, because we were regarded the people of my age as the “Blue Rinse Brigade”. But now if you have a blue rinse in your hair, it’s considered wildly funky. So I think that if you saw masses of blue haired grannies of yesteryear they’d think the country was being run by a lot of old age punks.

So reaching this great age of 74 it’s made me understand what is important in life. That is family, friends and community. I have to say its work as well because I love my work. But reaching this age, I’ve decided it’s no longer the time to worry about the small stuff, so I suppose you call this wisdom that comes with age. I spend more time doing what I enjoy, reading and taking my dog for a walk and cooking for friends, and volunteering.

Now a lot of us, a lot of older women volunteer. And I read recently, when I first started this job as Ambassador for Ageing, I had this information that tells you Volunteering Australia is worth an estimated 75 billion dollars to the economy every year, but in the last couple of years somebody has actually done some research recently, this person from Adelaide, I don’t have the person’s name. The researcher believes it’s worth 200 billion dollars to the economy every year and she reckons its worth more to Australia than mining.

I just forgot there’s something I actually forgot when I first started to talk. I was going to tell you in today’s paper they were talking about a number of people who have reached the age of 100 and more. And the centenary is one of the biggest growing demographics in Australia. Many of us are going to be 100. These people were interviewed and one woman said her reason for living to this great age is “well I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, It’s not that I’m a teetotaller I just don’t like the taste of it, I do have the occasional sherry.” I love that. Sherry and Champagne don’t count.

So I have to go back to the Ambassador of Ageing stuff, because that’s why I’m here, and they actually paid my airfare. So I will have to talk a little about my role and the messages I promote about healthier and active ageing. Unless I’ve spoken for too long? I’ll just do that, I’m used to that.

So what does the Ambassador of Ageing mean? Am I just the Ambassador for older Australians? Maybe I should just be called the Ambassador for everybody, because as soon as we’re born, we’re ageing. There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. Good face creams may ward off wrinkles for a while, but there’s no time machine available to take us back to when we were young.

So it’s really about how we age, and how we cope with what is after all an inevitable process. In today’s world there’s lots of advice on how to stay healthy, and live longer. Medical services have never been better and perhaps best of all there are more of us than at any time in history. We’ll never be short of company. In 40 years, 1 in 4 of the total population is going to 65 years and older. Well, from my point of view, 65 years is young, and the 65 year old of today is nowhere near the 65 year old of say my parent’s generation, who might have died before they turned 65. So, I don’t just promote healthy active ageing messages, I also try and dispel the myths about growing older.

One such myth is the unfounded fear that the world is coming to an end because we have an ageing population so I say don’t worry about it. We’re all doing very well, thank you. I’ve met very many older Australians and older women particularly who are living life in the fast lane and some of them are in demanding jobs. People in their 90s are doing PhD’s; in fact I think there are 20000 people in their 80s and 90s doing their PhD’s. I hope it’s not 2000. It’s a hell of a lot anyway. So I believe older women and men, because I can see some men here too, are a fabulous bunch. Well there you go. As our male counterparts who have never lost their passion for living.

The truth is there is life after 60, 70, and 80 and even beyond that. And the vast majority of older people in Australia are happy, involved and active. And make a great contribution to their families, to the community and to the nation. Many older Australians still participate in the paid work force either in full time or part time positions, they also contribute, as I mentioned before, in that voluntary basis.

So I’d like to talk about how we can age well. Some effective tips I have, we can look after our health by eating a balanced diet to ensure our bodies are well nourished, and we can also take a bit of regular exercise. It doesn’t have to be a lot, and it doesn’t have to be all at once. Half an hour a day, an hour a day I think is better than that, and taking care of the brain because as we get older, we really need to challenge ourselves. This is actually, the more you challenge yourself the more you’re going to live to be a happy and effective older person. People say I do the cross word every day, that’s fabulous, but you just get good at cross words. Do something that you didn’t think you could do. Like go on Dancing with the Stars, when you didn’t think you could dance, which I did because I did it for charity because I have a couple of charities I would do anything for. I thought I’m not going to make a fool of myself on national television, so I thought I might only be on for a couple of shows. I was lucky enough to be teamed up with Carmelo Patzino. It was the first show he had ever done, and he taught me how to dance, but he only taught me how to dance with Carmelo Patzino. I’m still hopeless dancing with anybody else. But I must say if ever you get the opportunity to go on Dancing with the Stars, the only opportunity to be in the arms of a man exactly half your age. I can recommend it.

I only brought that up, because it was something that took me out of my comfort zone, and when I talk to older people I say to them, if somebody opens the door and says to you, come in join me, join this group and you say I don’t really want to do that course, or I don’t really want to, but just go through that door. It may not be the door that leads you to what you want to do with the rest of your life, but it will lead you somewhere. And it is a marvellous thing to do, to take that deep breath and say, yes I can do that.

This is what I do as Ambassador of Ageing, I spread those messages. We can always do something with our brain matter, I encourage people to go along and visit their public library, learn bridge, learn anything new. Have those stimulating conversations with people that you haven’t met before. The more friendships you have the better off you’re going to be. People say I’ve got all these friends but yes, get some new ones. Because when you’re talking to your friends that you’ve had for such a long time you’re just nodding in agreement with each other, you want to challenge each other.

There’s another misconception that I like to explode, to bury, and that’s older people cannot handle technology and the truth is that people over 55 are the fastest growing users of internet. I’ve seen people of 84 learning how to use the computer for the first time, and they say well it isn’t brain surgery, it’s not hard. It does open a whole world, if you’ve got a computer and you can log on to the internet, then you’ve got all the libraries of the world available to you. As you age, sometimes you’re not as mobile and it’s a wonderful opportunity to renew that education. I think it’s also good for keeping in touch with family and friends because Australians move all over the world, our grandchildren are in other countries, and it’s a marvellous thing to be able to talk to them on Skype. I use it all the time, I probably use it a bit too much. I’m quite happy if I have to go to the toilet in the middle of the night I can check my emails. So another misconception, how often are senior Australians portrayed in the media as being frail older people living in nursing homes?

Fortunately this is changing and there are groups such as, I don’t know if you know, Older People Speak Out, and that organisation was founded by a woman who teaches media studies. She awards the media annually, and if they give accurate representation of older people they get a beautiful award, and a very nice awards night, like the Logies. I think that’s a wonderful initiative thought up by an older person. The truth is the vast majority of us over 65 are not frail, will not live in nursing homes, the most recent data I’ve seen is that 94% of people over 65 are actually living in their own homes- Either alone or in a group, or as part of a family.

The good news is that the majority of older Australians want to live at home, and they do. They want to be part of the local communities and they are. They want to stay connected to their family and friends and they do. Older Australians, particularly older women are looking to a future where their desire for independence, flexibility, and broader consumer and lifestyle choices will increasingly take precedence. I’m pleased to say senior Australians are challenging the old, tired notion of ageing and challenging them successfully.

So as I look back on my life as a woman, I rejoice because of all the extraordinary things it means to be a woman in this world. Women have always been capable of great things, and I am pleased to say we now live in an era and a country where we can blossom like we’ve never been able to blossom before. Older women have paved the way for a brighter future for younger women where the limits of today seem endless. But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Older women have made sacrifices over the years to make a better world for women in general. When I was growing up, women have had to leave the work force, as you were saying earlier, as they got married and had children. And for many decades, had those rather menial jobs like typing and cleaning, and if they were lucky they’d be nursing or getting a job where there was a girl Friday, where they ran the office where the men couldn’t even type a letter, for heaven’s sake. There are men still running the country there, who can’t type a letter, it’s just ridiculous.

Women of today enjoy a much broader range of employment opportunities, and there are women who are now employed in senior positions in both the public and private sectors. There are many women running their own successful businesses, I am pleased to say we live in a great time where there are those greater opportunities for women to reach their full potential. There is still some way to go, because women don’t always have the confidence they deserve to live the life they dream. But the future is much brighter because of the efforts of older women, and our society has certainly been revolving in the right direction.

I’d like to now close with a quote from a former American Vice President Hubert H Humphrey, who was still seeking the Presidency in his 70s and who remained active and involved in political life almost until the day of his death. “The good old days were never that good, believe me. The good new days are today. The better days are coming tomorrow. Our greatest song is still unsung.”

Words that should be a calling call for people everywhere, acknowledging the past, live for the present and rejoice for the future. Thank you.

08 March 2013

Women at Work – Voices of older women, a study commissioned by not for profit aged care provider Benetas, was launched on the eve of International...

Women at Work – Voices of older women, a study commissioned by not for profit aged care provider Benetas, was launched on the eve of International Women’s Day, Thursday March 7th 2013. Noeline Brown, Ambassador for Ageing, officially launched the research and spoke about her personal life experiences of being a woman in the workforce and the importance of valuing older women in our society.

The research, undertaken by Deakin University, involved women between the ages of 66 and 92 talking about their experiences in employment throughout their lives, compared to younger generations. The research started with the hypothesis that older women may be envious towards younger women and the opportunities they enjoy today, compared to their experiences – however this was found to be untrue.

The study found that older women recognise that younger women have tremendous career opportunities and are willing to support them to achieve their goals, but that these opportunities also bought many responsibilities.

View the full Women at Work - voices of older report

03 December 2012

Benetas and Grace Bruce Homes have announced an amalgamation between the two not-for-profit aged care providers.

The amalgamation will...

Benetas and Grace Bruce Homes have announced an amalgamation between the two not-for-profit aged care providers.

The amalgamation will mean that Grace Bruce Dalkeith Hostel and Dalkeith Heights Retirement Village in Traralgon and Hazelwood House in Churchill, will become part of Benetas’ service offerings.

Benetas CEO, Sandra Hills, said, “We are thrilled to amalgamate with Grace Bruce to ensure an enhanced range of services will be available to older people and their families in the Gippsland region.

“Benetas has been a part of the Gippsland community for many years now - we offer community care packages and in-home care services to older people living at home. We were really keen to expand our current range of services in Gippsland from community services into residential care and retirement living. The opportunity to amalgamate with Grace Bruce in Gippsland was therefore very much welcomed by us,” Ms Hills said.

The settlement date for the amalgamation is early December this year.

Ms Hills said “Benetas will honour the history, heritage and vision of this well-respected organisation as we continue its work in the local community.

“The highest priority will be given to maintaining the quality of services and the care of all residents, and ensuring staff are fully consulted,” Ms Hills said.

To view the full media release please click here

28 November 2012

Benetas residents at facilities across Victoria have recently been treated to visits from a mobile animal farm, thanks to money raised through...

Benetas residents at facilities across Victoria have recently been treated to visits from a mobile animal farm, thanks to money raised through fundraising initiatives at Benetas.

Residents have been lucky enough to spend a few hours getting up close and cuddling with rabbits, guinea pigs, piglets, lambs and much more through visits from Animals on the Move.

Recent research conducted by a university student on behalf of Benetas found that there are great benefits for older people from pet therapy, including helping recall memories. The research found that even just speaking about pets and animals helped older people engage more with those around them.

Our staff and residents across our residential facilities wish to extend their thanks to our donors whose generous contributions covered the cost of the animal farm visits.

View a range of photos from Benetas Dowell Court, via the Heidelberg Leader website.

If you’d like to donate to a similar program, please contact our fundraising team on 03 8823 7960 or visit our donate page.

28 November 2012

Channel 9 newsreader, Peter Hitchener, reminisced about his mum’s cooking and discussed the importance of intergenerational relationships at a...

Channel 9 newsreader, Peter Hitchener, reminisced about his mum’s cooking and discussed the importance of intergenerational relationships at a sumptuous afternoon tea, presented by Benetas, during the 2012 Victorian Seniors Festival.

Nearly 200 seniors packed the Hotel Windsor on October 5th, to listen to Mr Hitchener as he looked back on growing up in rural Queensland, with no electricity and only a generator. Benetas organised the event to celebrate Victorian Seniors Festival, and to promote the importance of generations working together.

Benetas CEO, Sandra Hills said that different age groups working together helped to promote the contribution that older people make to society.

“So many first memories are of grandma’s baking – think back to those scones, biscuits and cakes you used to share! A perfect way to work together is through cooking and sharing a love of food, which is why we chose to host our afternoon tea at The Hotel Windsor.

Through cooking, older people can share their knowledge and experiences – helping to change the negative attitudes our society holds about ageing,” Ms Hills said.

Thank you to our sponsors William Angliss Institute and House, for their generous donations of gifts for prizes and raffles on the day.

28 November 2012

Jane Edmanson, 3AW presenter, and City of Moreland Mayor, CR John Kavanagh officially opened our beautifully renovated gardens at Benetas Colton...

Jane Edmanson, 3AW presenter, and City of Moreland Mayor, CR John Kavanagh officially opened our beautifully renovated gardens at Benetas Colton Close on Thursday 20th September alongside residents, families and staff from the aged care organisation in Glenroy.

Jane Edmanson hosted the event and Mayor of Moreland CR John Kavanagh assisted resident Susanne Kenny cut the ribbon to officially open the garden. The gardens were populated with specially chosen plants and materials that are designed to stimulate resident’s memories – different smells, sounds and textures that connect the past to the present. The end result is are beautiful, memory inspiring gardens that staff and residents at Benetas Garden Close can enjoy in the coming summer months.

The gardens were only made possible thanks to a generous bequest from a former resident of Colton Close. Once you have taken care of your friends, loved ones and family, leaving a bequest to Benetas in your will could be one of the most important gifts you ever make. It can make a significant difference to the lives of thousands of older Victorians now and for many years to come.

If you’d like to learn more about bequests at Benetas please contact Lisa Rees, Partnerships Manager on 03 8823 7951 or view our bequests page.

13 November 2012

On a quiet street in Ascot Vale sits four white weatherboard houses in a row, built together in 1908. In the last one at the end of the street,...

On a quiet street in Ascot Vale sits four white weatherboard houses in a row, built together in 1908. In the last one at the end of the street, with the aqua coloured trimmings lives 91 year old Henry Lowe, who has lived there all his life.

Born in the front room on Remembrance Day in 1920, Henry was the youngest of seven children, six boys and one girl. His eldest brother was 22 years older than him and Henry, being the youngest by seven years, jokes that he was an ‘accident’.

“My parents told me I was found under a cabbage leaf, a beautiful happy boy that everybody loved,” recalls Henry.

The house and its surroundings hold many memories for Henry, of flying kites on the road out the front which used to be made of dirt; of driving everyone crazy while scooting around the house in his pedal car.

At the age of 15 Henry got his first job at the government explosive factory in Maribyrnong. He worked there for eight years before World War Two began. Henry and the other men taught the newly employed females how to produce the cord irons for the ammunition for the war, once the women were trained the men headed to service. Henry went to the air force.

One of those women he trained would end up being the love of his life Jeannie, who became his wife for 57 wonderful years. Henry served in the South Pacific, where he visited Morotai, Labuan and Borneo. He travelled to Borneo three times, twice by plane and once by row boat. They took the row boat because their plane had crashed and they had to burn it so that it wasn’t found.

Henry has many memories of the war and he says sometimes his memories come flooding back, sometimes triggered by a certain word or a smell.

“I don’t like to talk about my time in the war I don’t think anyone should know what we saw. I only like to think of the lighter moments – how the natives were good to us. I also like to think of the night we had Victory over Japan. We all got rip roaring drunk except for one man who ending up putting all of us to bed that night.”

During his four years Henry would write countless letters to his family and friends – so many in fact that he was asked to make a letter box because he wrote too many.

On his final leave he married Jeannie on the 7 March 1945 – and honeymooned in Ferntree Gully. In 1946 after four years Henry received an Honourable Discharge from the Air Force.

For 56 years Henry lived in the weatherboard he was born in with his wife up until she passed away in 2002. Living on his own for the past ten years Henry says the house makes him feel closer to his family and to his beautiful wife who he says good morning and good evening to every day.

Henry is so happy to be able to remain in his own home and he wishes to remain as long as possible. He not only receives services from Benetas Community Care North West which allow him to remain at home but also from helpful neighbours who always pop their head in to see if he is ok.

This coming Remembrance Day, the day he turns 92, Henry will remember one of his brothers who died in a concentration camp during World War Two.

“My mother had four sons in uniform at the same time,” recalls Henry, “I cannot begin to understand how she felt as she waited for news on how we were.”

All sites at Benetas will join Henry and the many clients and residents and remember those who served for our country.

For more information please contact Fiona Phipps 03 8823 7957

16 October 2012

Over time, many non discretionary items such as food, gas electricity and water charges, property rates and charges, household services, health,...

Over time, many non discretionary items such as food, gas electricity and water charges, property rates and charges, household services, health, education and insurance services have either risen significantly and/or displayed a high degree of price volatility.

In the 12 months up to Jun 2011 the price of food increased 6% with the bulk of the increase shown to be for fresh fruit and vegetables (35% increase in cost).

In the same period, housing costs increased by almost 5% with an increase in rents of 4.5% and an increase in utilities of 9.9% (with an increase specifically in electricity of 10.7% in the 12 months before June 2011). Transport too, has had an increase in costs of 3.5% over the same period.

There has not been an increase in government allowances (other than inflation) since 1995. And due to differing indexation, allowances fall ever behind other government payments, the minimum wage and the national average.

‘When there’s not enough to eat’ is the 12th edition of Anglicare Australia’s State of the Family report. It is based on the network’s first national research project - a study into food insecurity among people seeking Emergency Relief at Anglicare services in every state and territory of Australia.

Below are some of the findings arising from that work. Food security requires access to readily available, safe and nutritious food.


  • 96% of respondents were food insecure with 3 in 4 (76%) experiencing severe insecurity.
  • 3 out of 4 adults regularly ran out of food in the last three months and could not afford to buy more. 73% of adults were cutting the size of meals and 62% were regularly skipping meals altogether.
  • 1 in 3 adults regularly did not eat for an entire day. Food security is measured by the severity and frequency of occasions of insecurity.


  • Living in a food insecure household did not necessarily mean that children were food insecure.
  • 79% of children presented in the sample experienced some level of insecurity however more than 1 in 3 were severely food insecure.
  • Surveyed adults appear to build in protection for children in those same households from the effect of food insecurity: 97% of adults living in households with children fell into either a more severe category than children in the household (55%) or the same (43%) food insecurity category.
  • 65% of households with children said they regularly could not provide enough variety of food for their children, 38% said their children were regularly not eating enough and 29% of cases they said children were regularly going hungry.
  • In 7% of households children did not eat for a whole day either weekly or some weeks.
  • Children have been described as being ‘grumpy’, ‘upset’, ‘embarrassed’ and exhibiting behavioural problems. Findings compiled from surveys of people accessing emergency relief services across the Anglicare Australia network

Who is food insecure?

  • 61% of respondents were female.
  • 32% of respondents represented lone parent households; another 28% represented single person households.
  • Indigenous people were over-represented, accounting for 17% of food insecure respondents compared to 2% of the national population.
  • 67% of households had incomes of less than $1000 per fortnight.
  • 77% of households have no one in paid employment.
  • Four out of five households (78%. 47% of which were in public housing) were renting and 12% were living in insecure housing. 10% were paying off a mortgage or owned their own home.
  • 94% of private renters were experiencing rental stress.

Among food insecure respondents


  • 91% did not have enough money to buy the food they needed.
  • 89% had run out of food because of an unexpected expense or event.
  • The price of food and the lack of income were listed as a major concern to households for accessing food. It was compromised by costs for rent, electricity and bills in general and lack of money to make ends meet.


  • 33% indicated that they had difficulty accessing shops because of health and mobility problems and more than one third (38%) stated that not having access to a car for shopping worsened their food situation.
  • One in four (25%) considered public transport inadequate and unreliable and 43% felt transport was too expensive

Cooking & Storage:

  • For 19% health and mobility problems reduced their capacity to be able to cook for themselves.
  • One in ten clients did not have a fridge, 13% did not have a working stove, oven or microwave and 8% did not have power connected.

Coping mechanisms

  • The most common coping strategies among food insecure respondents were receiving help from an ER service or food bank (88%) or going without food (67%).
  • Nine out of ten households (90%) had asked for food from an ER centre. More than half (62%) had sought assistance between two and five times.
  • 44% had pawned or sold personal possessions in the last three months.
  • 50% of all food insecure respondents indicated that they had sought help from family and 40% had asked for assistance from friends or neighbours.


  • Respondents reported a number of physical symptoms including hunger, weight loss, nausea, lethargy and loss of focus and concentration.
  • Socially, respondents reported not being able to entertain family or friends and not being able to invite their children’s friends over after school. They also reported embarrassment and shame at having to ask for assistance, feelings of stress, anxiety and inadequacy.

What can we do?

  • We can recognise and respond to the inadequacy of current income support payments in the forthcoming National Food Plan and address the most significant aspect of food security - that of adequate income.
  • The Federal Government could increase the Newstart Allowance (NSA) and other allowance payments for single persons by at least $50 per week.
  • Services can take an integrated approach recognising that linking community development programs with emergency relief is a means to provide wrap around services to people who may experience food insecurity and disadvantage more broadly.
  • We can ensure that people live in good housing circumstances: that the facilities are appropriate for storing and cooking food; that electrical equipment is energy efficient; and that safe and nutritious food is made available within communities through various food programs such as co-ops or community garden.

View a copy of the report here or contact Anglicare Australia on 02 6230 1775 for more information.


04 October 2012

Highschool student Manepha is a volunteer at Benetas Colton Close. She recently wrote this short story about her experiences with ageing....

Highschool student Manepha is a volunteer at Benetas Colton Close. She recently wrote this short story about her experiences with ageing.

A young girl

A fine day it was. A blue sky with no clouds. Meadows teaming with bright yellow daffodils - my favourite. My feet swinging off the ground as I push against the earth. How I loved summer. Embracing the sweetness of the air and the feeling of floating above the ground with only a large oak and rope holding me up. There's a young boy in the distance playing with a toddler in a pink frilly dress. Tony loved his little sisters, he was always such a gentleman towards us. I remember one time he saved up all his pocket money just so he could buy us an ice cream each. He was simply a nice and generous soul.

"Watch out Lulu!" I called towards my young sister, "Don't trip over that frilly dress of yours!".

She just stared back at me with her cheerful smile and rose petal cheeks. She was always, no doubt, the favourite out of the three of us. At Sunday masses the old ladies would crowd around her, drowning her in sweets until she couldn’t hold a wider grin. We’d have to wait at church for everyone to leave before we could steal her back.

“I’m envious of her charming looks and adorable smile” I always complained.

Father didn’t care much of it though, he just wanted us to be well educated. “A brain is what you need to get through life” he’d say. Always a strict and proper gent, my dad.

However he does have a soft side, outside of business hours that is. I’d sometimes wonder how my parents were right for each other. But then I guess opposites do attract. My crazy outgoing mother and formal father. A striking pair they are.

“Hello?” a voice asks from behind, “would you like a slice of homemade pie with that tea Georgia?”

Without turning I nod, knowing my mother will give me a slice either way.

“Georgia! Come play!” my brother yells from the bottom of the slope. “Come!” he beckons as I slowly turn on my swing making it spiral and obscure my view. “Are you alright?” says my mothers voice again, still standing near by, out of my view.

I continue to wriggle around on my swing until Tony slaps me on the shoulder, “Tag! Your it!” he screams as he starts making his way back down the hill top.

“Ow!” I screech dramatically. “Georgia? Is everything alright there?” my mothers voice comes again. “Yes! I’m fine!” I reply as I start to jump off my swing. I try to sprint but I fall over. The meadows of flowers turn into a hard carpet.

My brothers cheeky competitive face just a photo on the wall. My sister Lulu replaced by an old toy doll. I slowly turn  my head as I start to feel dizzy, tears beginning to leak through my eyes.

“Georgia! Georgia!” the voice from behind calls again. A young lady takes long strides towards me holding a chunk of plastic in her hands. “Yes? Hello? This is Anne, Georgia Bucklesworth has had a fall on floor two in the west wing, can we get a GP down here? Thank you” the lady says to the plastic.

I start to get my face off the floor and sit cross legged while trying to wipe my tears. The pain in my knees ache as does my swollen hands and feet. I take a proper look around and more tears burst out of my eyes without permission.

“It’s okay Georgia, it’ll be better soon” coos the lady while she holds me close to her chest. More water comes streaming out of my eyes. How I long for her arms to be that of my mothers. I start to whine, creases forming in my brow. ‘Why?’ I ask myself while I rock my torso to and fro. How I wish I could return to my memories and relive the past.

An unfamiliar figure walks into the room and mumbles to the lady. “Her memories have been playing tricks on her again” he replies.

18 September 2012

Thinking about how life changes and exploring how spirituality links with ageing were key themes of the launch of a research report into the...

Thinking about how life changes and exploring how spirituality links with ageing were key themes of the launch of a research report into the ageing experience in Australia.

Lindsay Tanner, former Federal Finance Minister, launched the Benetas paper, Finding the way – a Theology of Ageing, written by Reverend Canon Dr Stephen Ames and commissioned by Benetas, on 13 September offering his reflections on what it means to age well in Australia.

“The question of the length of time, that we all see as the ageing process is changing dramatically. It’s now decades for many people. Whereas it’s not that long ago that this was kind of a relatively limited thing that happened at the end of your life...whereas now increasingly what we...see as ageing, is actually a very substantial percentage of many people’s lives. This invites us to rethink what we see as ageing and in particular to rethink how we deal with that latter stage of our life,” Mr Tanner said.

View the full transcript of Mr Tanner's speech.

View the full report and more information.

At the launch, Sandra Hills, CEO Benetas, said there is a very real ‘ageist’ attitude in Australia, and that Benetas plans to use a theology of ageing as an advocacy tool towards changing this attitude.

“Our society is caught up in the idea of youth, which means that our older people are often forgotten about or stereotyped. The amount of anti-ageing messages in the media is quite overwhelming. We are trying to change that attitude and show our society that, yes life changes and your body changes as you age, but we should be embracing and accepting these changes – not pretending to be something that we are not,” Ms Hills said.

A theology of ageing also looks at ageing in the light of spirituality and Christianity. Author of the paper, Reverend Canon Dr Stephen Ames explained that spirituality is what addresses a person’s ‘spiritual needs’, which are the needs for lived answers to the ‘big questions’, whatever form this may take.

“Ageing provides many challenges including challenges to our spirituality. We feel the significance of the ‘big questions’ as we face the changes ageing brings. Ageing well includes being able to address these spiritual challenges and have a positive experience regardless,” Dr Ames said.

“It is important that aged care providers can support older people within their chosen spirituality, whether that be in the light of God, or otherwise. Benetas not only wanted a Theology of Ageing, they also wanted a Theology of Ageing to provide a basis for all of their operations, and the basis for them to influence other organisations. Wisdom knows the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And Benetas’ Board has sought a Theology of Ageing to point it towards the main thing,” Dr Ames said.

Ms Hills said the paper also strived to show people that even as we age, it is vital that we do not lose who we are.

“Many people think that as one part of us declines, whether that is cognitively or physically, we lose our ‘person’. A theology of ageing argues that, in fact, the opposite is true – just because we lose capacity in some areas doesn’t make us any less of a person. It is vital for our society to understand that older people’s lives are still as important as they have always been, so a positive experience of ageing can be achieved,” Ms Hills said.

A theology of ageing has helped Benetas take an ambitious step towards better understanding its own identity and Ms Hills hopes that it will be used to inspire other organisations to also clarify their mission and vision.

“We hope to use a theology of ageing as a practical basis for both Benetas’ future work as a faith based organisation and also as a tool for other organisations and governments to implement. It is important for our society to change their attitudes towards older people, to ultimately help them retain their dignity as they age,” Ms Hills said.

View the full report and more information.