In Australia, we are protected by the Age Discrimination Act, which aims to ensure that people of all ages are treated equally. Despite this law, discrimination on the basis of age is all too common in our society.
Research commissioned by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) shows that many people hold negative perceptions of older people, perceiving them as isolated, lonely, forgetful and resistant to change.
In my role as Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, I work to overcome these damaging stereotypes and encourage all Australians to recognise the ‘Power of Oldness’, which is to recognise and acknowledge the many strengths of experience. It is also important for people to be aware of their rights. So here are some things you can do to fight discrimination, should you experience it.
1. Know your rights
The Age Discrimination Act 2004 protects you from age discrimination in many areas of life, including:
- getting or using services.
This means it is unlawful to treat a person less favourably in these protected areas because of their age.
2. Recognise discrimination
It is important to be able to recognise discrimination when it happens to you. Sometimes it will be obvious – in the form of derogatory comments or jokes. At other times it will be harder to spot, such as being refused a chance to get more training on the basis that you are expected to leave the job in a few years.
A recent survey undertaken by the AHRC showed that one in five people who had experienced age discrimination at work were unaware that the behaviour was unlawful.
3. Talk to someone
Discrimination of any kind is upsetting and can have an impact on your mental health. It is important to seek the help you need if this happens to you. You could talk to a manager, colleague, family member or friend. You could also seek help from a counselling service such as Lifeline (Ph131114).
4. Make a complaint
If you do not feel comfortable raising the issue with your manager, or this does not resolve the issue, you can make a complaint to the AHRC.
5. Understand the Power of Oldness
Older people have a huge amount to contribute to society, and they make this contribution in many ways. Negative stereotypes often lie at the heart of age discrimination, which is why the AHRC is committed to replacing this negativity with positive and realistic attitudes towards both young and older Australians. This ARHC video helps to convey the message.
Contact the AHRC for advice or to make a complaint if you feel you have experienced age discrimination at work.
Ph 1300 656 419 or 02 9284 98888
Email: [email protected]