Canberra announces plan to employ more older Australians

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The ACT government has announced an age-friendly plan that values the contributions and employment of older Australians to support Canberra’s ongoing development as a city.

The plan includes a campaign to encourage local businesses to provide employment opportunities for older residents.

The ACT government also plans to promote flexible work policies and grant greater employment opportunities for older people in the city across the whole of the government sector.

ACT minister for seniors Gordon Ramsay said the plan also included improving the volunteer administration system at Transport Canberra and City Services to better support older volunteers.

In 2018, older Canberrans participated in the Age-Friendly City Survey, which asked them to share their views and experiences on what was working well and what needed to improve.

According to the survey results, nearly a third of respondents said they had been subject to age-based discrimination, including being made to feel invisible or underestimated when shopping or in the workplace.

YourLifeChoices research reveals that ageism is a major problem in the workplace with 23 per cent of members polled saying they first experienced ageism in the workplace in their 50s and 21 per cent in their 60s.

“Older members of our community are an asset for our city. We can all learn from their knowledge and experience,” Mr Ramsay said.

“They make enormous contributions to our society through caring for family and friends, volunteering, advisory roles and broader community participation.

“In turn, it is our duty to ensure that older Canberrans are acknowledged, heard and cared for and that we adapt our services to suit their needs as their journey through life continues.

“We recognise that this is a challenging time for all in our community, but it is a particularly difficult time for our older Canberrans.”

Robert Tickner, co-chair of advocacy campaign EveryAge Counts, says the community sees employment as a priority area for challenging ageism towards older people.

According to EveryAge Counts research, ageism in employment is responsible for many of those who lose their jobs remaining jobless for much longer than younger unemployed people and many simply leave the labour market altogether, deeply discouraged. 

Mr Tickner said that tackling ageism in employment was one of the most urgent challenges facing Australia.

“If you add the deep structural problem of ageism into the current economic downturn and mass unemployment associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, you have a recipe for disaster for older workers,” he said.

“Younger workers are, of course, also facing great challenges and long-term impacts coming out of the pandemic and it is counterproductive and damaging to pit the needs of one group against another. This should not be a zero-sum game.

“But what we do know about unemployment at older ages is that a mature age worker has to overcome negative stereotypes and age discrimination on top of underlying economic stresses in a competitive labour market.

“Ageism is bad for business too, limiting access to an entire pool of skill and talent simply based on chronological age. 

“In addition, it strains government budgets to support long-term unemployed, older job seekers and people retiring earlier with lower levels of personal savings and superannuation than might have otherwise been the case.

“We congratulate the ACT government for recognising that mature age employment is a key plank in an age-friendly city and including this in its new plan.”

Other areas of the government’s plan address the barriers older Canberrans have said they face in living free from abuse, staying mobile, remaining socially connected and having good access to services.

Some of the other actions under the plan include:

  • introducing legislation that makes elder abuse a criminal offence
  • implementing a strategy that supports the mental health and wellbeing of older Canberrans
  • working to make ACT government shopfronts and local areas dementia-friendly
  • continuing the roll-out of the Age Friendly Suburbs Program.

Do you think more states should follow Canberra’s lead when it comes to supporting the employment of older Australians in the workforce?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 18
  1. 0

    Just for ACT??

  2. 0

    Definitely all states should follow Canberra’s lead. Ageism in the workforce for some begins around the age of 50. I never experienced it throughout my work history. I am happily retired despite not being well off and choose to not work by choice. There is much more to life than just work. I advise the 50+ unemployed to upskill and change career paths to where there is demand. Always remember employers want confident and competent workers.

    • 0

      I did just that, but still couldn’t get a decent job. I went from Office Administration to Bookeepping. No accountants even wanted me to work with them.

    • 0

      SuziJ both of those fields lends themselves to virtual workspaces. And the virtual space has really come into its own in the past few weeks showing employers that they don’t need people in an enclosed space being watched. There are lots of opportunities now for exactly what you could offer, and there are online job-boards for you to get clients. Age would have no relevance in this space, only whether you can perform to the requirements of the job.

  3. 0

    This should be National initiative. Ageism is rife and I have experienced it many times especially when applying for employment. I was once told when being interviewed by 20 something young things, “you would be too old to understand the technology”. I walked out of the interview after a severe comment to them. Subsequently got employment with an employer who appreciated my experience and I ended up showing them how to use Technology to make the organisation more efficient and reduce turn around times and significantly reduce costs to them and customers.

    At least some employers can see past the grey hair and wrinkles!

    • 0

      Yes, Huskie, some can see past the grey hair and wrinkles but, sadly, they are in a very small minority. I have a mate who used to be a site manager and he preferred the older tradesman; his reasoning was that they had made all of the mistakes and a previous employer had paid for those mistakes.

  4. 0

    Just another bunch of politicians making empty promises, nothing to see here. As a person made redundant aged late 40’s after 30+ years with the one employer and no formal qualifications, the industry in which I was employed shedding staff generally and the recession we had to have I can safely comment that there is ageism in Australia. Employers are smart enough to give a myriad of excuses as to why they employed a younger person so as not to attract claims of discrimination. Governments of all persuasions do not have the ability to legislate to cover unemployed older workers.

    But wait, is there a reason why this has been raised? Oh my, there is a general election set down for October. But surely this couldn’t be the reason to make statements about something that will attract votes but cannot be carried through once the elections are over? No, it’s merely my cynical nature that is working overtime and the upcoming election is just incidental. Fast trains anyone?

    • 0

      “But wait, is there a reason why this has been raised? Oh my, there is a general election set down for October.”
      Got it in one Horace Cope – well done.

    • 0

      “General Election” in October? Really? Not in NSW!

      Or do you mean territory elections?

    • 0

      The article was about the ACT government, KSS, so I didn’t specify which election. Yes, it’s an ACT general election. Apologies if there was a misunderstanding.

  5. 0

    The one thing that’d hold me back from moving to Canberra is the price of rentals – they start at around $230 pw for a modest 2 bedroom unit in Queanbeyan, and around $300 pw in the outer suburbs of Canberra – far too expensive for anyone on a basic wage.

  6. 0

    I agree whole heartedly with The Thinker, but would add many, many “over fifties ” are upskilled and have maintained their”up” skills, even in I.T. but have applied for hundreds of jobs, and been unsuccessful. So very sad. As for oldies being invisible and or dumb, don’t get me started.

  7. 0

    Good luck with this initiative. I worked until I was 67 before being ‘asked’ to leave after 18 years with the same company. The 28 year old that took my job lasted 8 months and his replacement 4 months. The pension system is so convoluted that any part time work worth doing is taxed 50% if over $750 per fortnight. Hardly worth bothering especially with the compulsory 5% draw down on any super contributing to that $750, tho with the current option to reduce to 2.5% for 12 months, tho super not likely to increase in value anytime soon. Lets be honest its a mess and the incentivation to spend more time working seriously flawed.

  8. 0

    In 2016 after 18years at the same company my husband Aged 54 became unemployed, unable to get work in Sydney, having lots of experience, he made a move to Canberra, into a government position, he is happy in this position, but the downfall is we have to live seperate until he retires, yes rent is very expensive, it is cheaper to buy a small one bed apartment. He comes home of a weekend, but this is our only alternative, Sydney market would not give him ago. His new employer would be lost without him. Canberra is a great place to work and lots of things to explore. But too cold for me. Sydney and other states could follow there example, giving the older workers a chance.

  9. 0

    If the jobs aren’t there it doesn’t matter how old or young you are. And ageism varies from town to town in Australia. In our town it’s the young people who can’t get their first taste of paid employment because the council and Bunnings favour older workers.

  10. 0

    Easy solution, let government walk the talk. Government departments everywhere should be made to employ over 50’s and 60’s when they have vacancies.



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