Older Australians fed up with the generational gap

According to older Australians, the age gap may be more of a gaping void than a bit of generational misunderstanding.

A new report by specialist travel insurers Australian Seniors has revealed older Australians believe ageism is rampant in this country.

The Gen Seen Report 2024 found more than 90 per cent of people aged 50-plus felt stereotyped about their age and 73 per cent agreed that seniors become less visible after turning 50.

“Despite growing wiser and more fulfilled later in life, the value placed on youth by the world around us can leave us feeling unseen and unheard,” the report stated.

But we may be fighting back.

“A cultural shift is underway, with many over 50s embracing ageing, encouraging us to defy stereotypes, take up space, and reclaim our voice,” the report added.

The report surveyed more than 5000 Australians aged over 50 on what makes them happy, how they feel about where they fit in society, generational attitudes and their physical and mental health.

Feeling left behind

It found 73 per cent of those surveyed felt ‘less seen’ over age 50, particularly for the 60-64 cohort.

The problem was felt particularly hard in the workplace, where 73 per cent felt they had experienced ageism with 42 per cent feeling less visible at work after turning 50.

Many felt they were undervalued (83 per cent), went unnoticed (78 per cent), were overlooked for job opportunities (27 per cent), promotions (23 per cent) and pay rises (19 per cent).

Not surprisingly, many felt how older people are portrayed in the media was partly to blame.

“These portrayals have led to a noticeable gap between how we see ourselves and how the media represents us. In fact, three-quarters (75 per cent) of us admit to this disparity, with over half (55 per cent) agreeing that media depictions of older Australians are simply inaccurate,” the report stated.

it’s a sentiment echoed by prominent social commentator Jane Caro who called out ageism as the “last acceptable prejudice” at the recent media conference Cannes in Cairns.

“Two-thirds of workers aged between 45 and 74 have experienced age discrimination in the workplace – they have been passed over for projects, passed over for promotions, not given the kind of work or the kind of recognition they feel they should or even worse having lost their jobs,” she said. 

“On average, women retire with one-third less super than men and men don’t have enough.” 

Call to reflect real lives

Caro challenged the audience of advertising creatives to better serve older people to reflect real lives.

“One of the ways we can make old people visible is to occasionally cast some of them in your ads,” she said. 

“And not just for funerals, planes, cruises, and arthritis cures. We go out to dinner, we party. We do all sorts of things – include us, we are just other people, we are just you in a few years’ time, that’s all we are.

“But you leave us out.”

As for the generational divide, 69 per cent of those perceived a decline in respect for elders is driving a wedge between our older and younger generations, particularly online where social media has emerged as the most common arena for experiencing ageism.

Older Australians blamed a lack of traditional values, stereotypes around technology, and a general lack of empathy for the intergenerational rift. 

Moreover, more than half (55 per cent) believe Gen Z are the worst ‘ageist’ offenders, with many (85 per cent) citing intergenerational differences in beliefs, behaviours and attitudes as the cause for this divide.

Gen Z covers those born from the mid-to-late 1990s to the early 2010s.

Galling slurs

Particularly galling were the slurs such as ‘Okay boomer’ and ‘Karen’ and many described they often felt annoyed, frustrated, patronised, undervalued and disrespected by these remarks. 

The good news is, that not everyone is taking it lying down. One in five where highly motivated to defy these ageist stereotypes and reclaim their voice. In fact, almost half (45 per cent) of us actively embrace natural ageing and foster a sense of pride in the wisdom and life experience that comes with being over 50. 

Those surveyed were also largely on the same page that the top secret to ageing well is happiness (80 per cent).

Have you experienced ageism? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Ageism, far more common than you would think

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Gen Z will become old in the not to distant future, as we all know life gets busy and flys by, and then you’re old and whatever that younger generation will be called will do exactly the same to them. Shopping centres are a great place to observe, how older people, especially women in the older age demographic seem to get overlooked and ignored. This could be at the supermarket deli or ordering in a cafe. Gen Z call anyone older then them “Boomer” as such an insult and blame the real Boomers for all their woes in this world. I’m sure one day in the future it will become clear to them, that the older folk weren’t their enemies and maybe they could have gleaned some wisdom from people who have already lived through different stages of life.

  2. One thing that really Galls me with our younger generations is the lack of respect for older people. Supermarkets, transport, shopping centers etc. May be we are to blame in a way for not teaching them respect for their elders when they were younger?

  3. Had my first startling example of ageism at my local servo which I have patronized for 35 years. A hand injury has temporarily made it difficult to hold on the petrol flow, so I enquired whether there was any way to hold it on (like on the old bowsers). Response? “Don’t you have any friends who can do it for you?”

  4. And what’s far worse than random idiots is the way that ageism now drives government policy, particularly via relentless Boomer-bashing.

    That results in cruel real-world consequences. Eg many don’t know that 65 yos with permanent, severe disabilities are automatically banned from entering the National Disability Scheme.

    That ageist injustice damages disabled Australians who are outlawed from the NDIS, even when their disability was incurred in childhood !

    The proposed horrorshow aged care policy is another nasty example.

    The good news here is that we don’t have to try to change the minds of 27 million Australians – just 227 Canberra politicians.

    Calling out ageism as this article does, is the way to go.
    Ageism must become like sexism and racism – totally unacceptable, and fatal to political careers.

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