HomeLifeWhy I’m grateful to be a baby boomer

Why I’m grateful to be a baby boomer

I know I have been fortunate. My adult children remind me of this often and no doubt when I kick the bucket, they will eulogise my life with many highlights common to most baby boomers.

In no special order they will cover the following:

I had free education at university, thanks to Gough Whitlam, and ended up with no HECS debt or any debt at all. 

Needless to say, they probably won’t mention the 40 children I sat with in a crowded classroom for most of my primary years, and then the 30 plus I contended with in high school. 

Nor will they mention how hard it was to gain a tertiary place, given that they were few and far between and that I had to fight my parents for the chance to go. They saw university as a hotbed of dissent, loose morality and communism, fearing that I would become a degenerate overnight.

 They could easily have sent me out to work and to pay board. And being female. “What use was my education?“ was often tossed around the kitchen table.

Sharing the pie

My children will probably be thankful that the pill was available through most of my reproductive years, otherwise they may have had to share their inheritance with a few other siblings. 

The pie divided four ways is bad enough. The pill and decent public health meant that women like me could finally choose how to enjoy life and also take control of it, rather than being a victim of their gender, as was the case for eons of time. My daughters should probably read that last bit out, though their brothers and all men have benefitted too from better contraception and fewer children to have to feed.

I had great music to listen to, on a series of devices at little cost and great convenience. Granted my first foray into music was via the small, tinny transistor radio often buried under my pillow at night and then Countdown on the telly, but it was wonderful. Rock and roll, the rivalry between the Beatles and the Stones, what a backdrop to our formative years.

Shaping minds

I had Germaine Greer and other women’s libbers to help formulate my view of myself and my place in the world. I didn’t burn my bra but I could have if I wanted to. Granted it wasn’t always a welcoming world for everyone, but I suffered little abuse or harassment because of my gender. I was lucky. I also worked in an industry that welcomed women and generally left us alone in the classroom. I had the privilege of shaping the minds of the future generation. 

I also had work whenever I wanted it. For most of my working life there has been full employment in Australia, for both sexes. It was work that was protected by unions and written into legislation. Equal opportunity laws were passed through government and an attempt to redress prejudices were actively put in place. Sadly, the gender pay gap still exists.

Cheap housing

I could afford a house. Granted it was out in the sticks, and there was no ensuite bathroom, but the toilet was inside and not down the end of the block like my grandparents’ dunny. However, we all know the current and past statistics. It is harder for this young generation to afford a house, let alone save for a deposit. 

I have not lived through a world war. This is a big one. My generation has miraculously escaped the horrors inflicted on past ones (apart from the unlucky few who got drafted to the Vietnam War). We have not had to suffer the loss of loved ones, the traumatic stress of having to actually kill someone, or the fear of being invaded.

And last but not least, thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I can get my worn-out knees and hips replaced, ready to dance that elusive tango into my old age. As a baby boomer, I have indeed lived a blessed life.

Are you a baby boomer? Does Dianne’s article resonate with you? What are you grateful for growing up in Australia? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Ultimate guest list: Who would you invite to dinner?


  1. Yes, very grateful to be a Baby Boomer. I think we had the best life of any recent generation. BUT the young have some serious misconceptions about what they think were unfair privileges we enjoyed.
    Free education? Sure, if you could get through high school which the majority didn’t. Most left at Intermediate/School Certificate. I did get to stay in school until the HSC but illness and bureaucratic bungling deprived me of the scholarship I needed. I was a few years too early to benefit from Whitlam’s free education.
    Affordable housing: Um. Average home was 110sq.m. 2-3 bed, 1 bath, 1 living, single garage, as opposed to now 250 sq m. 4 bed, 2+ bath, 2+ living, butler pantry, mud room, double garage…. Our first was 6+ times our annual income for a run-down 30-yr old 2 bedroom in dire need of extensive renovation. I grew tomatoes, made sauces to sell, took in ironing, made children’s clothes to sell, and babysat for working Mums to cover the repayments.
    We didn’t have 10%+ going into super. That is a salary/tax sacrifice that reduces money available to buy a home. Of course, it will be harder. Young folk should be able to access super to buy a modest home. But we had to save for our own retirement. No superannuation until the Keating era, and then not much.
    Interest rates? Well, 7% was the lowest I ever saw until we were well into retirement and getting no return on our savings. Rates today are NOT high by comparison with the average over the past 60 years.

    Germaine Greer? Well, Women’s Lib delivered some benefits, but it deprived millions of women of the choice to be homemakers and mothers through their children’s formative years. Now, they are imprisoned by economic necessity, running constantly to try to keep up with the demands of a job plus running a home and caring for little ones, and forced to put their kids into childcare whether they want to or not.

    War? Yep, we were lucky there, but plenty of my generation lost lives, were disabled, or suffered trauma in Vietnam that has left them struggling mentally if not physically.

    Birth control was good, but I am still not convinced the Pill doesn’t do some harm to those who take it long-term. I reacted to it and had to stop taking it and undergo surgery. Anything that changes the way nature regulates our body imposes some risks.

    The wonders of modern medicine? Yes, there have been some amazing advancements. We are all lucky in that regard. But not all modern medicine is safe from side effects, and there is far too much focus on profit. Natural health treatments are not financially supported by government when they would often be far better. Medicines that work are pulled from market when patents expire.

    It’s a mixed bag overall. How much of the ”advances” of our generation were beneficial and how many were, in various ways, harmful? Overall, Baby Boomers enjoyed the best of the best, I think. But we were also a generation that embraced discipline, hard work, common sense law, morality, reward for effort…. A lot of the problems today are a result of discarding the traditional values that have worked for generations.

  2. Many seem to forget those women who stayed home to look after their children, whose marriages broke up when they were too old to get a job. No super, because girls didn’t need super back then. So there might be baby boomers with plenty of money but there are also baby boomers who are struggling financially without loads in super and investments. Mostly women and really feminism wasn’t that big a thing back then.

  3. Not a good time for children from broken families where the wife had to leave because of violence and abuse. Those children, especially from small towns, had to suffer the abuse from the towns people, I know I was one and still suffer from what these people did. We were treated like dirt, all because our Mum had the guts to leave a relationship littered with violence and death threats. When the town should have rallied behind the wife, they all beat her and her kids to a pulp mentally. That I dare say happened lots.

  4. I think it’s all swings and roundabout; winners and losers. Here are some things from my past 60 years – good and bad:
    – Dad was a chippie – pay was low and he had to work 6 days/week
    – Mum was a retail assistant; paid 60% of the male hourly rate, and had to work to pay off the second mortgage. That’s right! Two loans to buy a house with interest rates on the second – sky high.
    – My younger sister was baby-sat (no child care to speak of) and my older brother and I roamed the streets until the lights came on.
    – No phone at home until I was 15. We had to run down to the local phone box and wait for it to be free.
    – A bank branch down the street, and a post office! We had to mail everything and wait ages for deliveries.
    – The local supermarket was about 200m2, and this was suburban. There were less food options to choose from, and most meals you had to make for yourself from scratch.
    – Milk and bread got delivered.
    – Not uncommon for people retiring to die within 5 – 10 years of finishing work.
    – I didn’t matriculate (think year 12 and entry to uni) because I was only 16 in year 12 due to being put up into year 1 before my time – only 8 weeks of ‘prep’. Consequently, I had to do 12 years of night school/part-time study while working full-time. It didn’t cost me anything other than a poor social life.
    – Trying to get a promotion was like having to sweat blood – not a lot of promotional opportunities back in the day.
    – Petrol was cheaper, but leaded and very bad for you. Our cars were very inefficient.
    – No microwave oven, clothes dryer, air fryer, dishwasher, air-conditioning or ceiling fans. We did have an oil heather converted to gas heat. In a heat wave, we slept outside on the lawn and used an ice cube in a handkerchief for cool.
    – Our first house as a married couple (1986) was 3 bedrooms, carport UMR, one bathroom, L shaped lounge/dining room. We paid most of our home loans at 13-17% interest, and to make this work, our weekly shopping bill (without kids) was $35.
    – No paid maternity leave, and I took annual leave when our kids were born.
    – 4 channels on TV (until SBS came along).
    – No internet until 1996: World Book encyclopedia was our only source of ‘knowledge’
    – No music streaming but my brother and I listened to the radio each night while doing our homework, in the hope a good song would come on. In the early 70s, Dad got us a cassette recorder and we’d hit record whenever a good song came on.

    It sounds like I’m talking about hardships, but they were fantastic years and I am so grateful for living in Australia at the time I have. While there are many advantages for those growing up today have, I do recognise there are some terrible challenges they face as well.

    Our worst effort as boomers (and builders and gen X) was to allow government policy to reward/allow the tax advantages for investment properties that make it much harder younger generations to work towards something quite fundamental – your own, affordable home. Like many policies, it is tantamount to wealth distribution to those that already have wealth from those that don’t have as much. Other policy tragedies were all the privatisation of public utilities and services that took our nation’s future out of our own hands; and winding away of trade skills (apprenticeships) in the 80s (and often associated with the aforementioned public utilities) that we most desperately need now.

  5. Yes I got a free education but unlike a lot of young ones these days you had to be able to spell correctly, construct correct grammar and write neatly. These skills seem to be so sadly lacking in a great many students these days. Yes I own my home and I am grateful for it but I paid 17 .5% interest for a number of years. Yes I enjoyed equal opportunity in my profession and for that I am grateful but the thing I am most grateful for is the fact that for my entire life baby boomers have been a major market force. No other generation can claim that privilege.

  6. Never understood the categories that we are placed in, apparently I’m a baby boomer, I was born in the 40s, left school at 15 no opportunity to go further had to contribute to the families upkeep, it’s seems now we are required to assist with our children’s children. Getting married before children came along, saving for a deposit for our first home, had to choose the cheapest area, our first house was a two bedroom fibro house with dunny out the back, one very small bathroom with shower over the bath and the toilet was also in the bathroom. The two bedrooms together were probably smaller than current master bedrooms, tiny laundry also out the back, the rest of the house consisted of one room which contained the living room, dining room and kitchen. Every piece of furniture was either a hand me down or purchased from the local secondhand shop. Wages were low interest was higher than today my wife’s wage was about half my wage, then in 60s I had the opportunity of an all expenses trip to Vietnam. We seemed a lot happier then than the current generation seem to be now. Such is life.

  7. I mention in my original comment the toilet in the bathroom, that was actually my second house, my first house the toilet was out the back, which was the old dunny, must have been having a senior moment😏

  8. Grateful to be a baby boomer? Yes but happy to share memories – Outside toilet and memories of my grandfather tearing up the newspaper and putting the carefully aligned pieces on a loop of string for toilet paper. I also recall the “Iceman” bringing a huge block of ice around the garden path to put it into our ice-box before refrigerators existed. I also remember the bread and milk deliveries – who didn’t like that first slice of white Vienna loaf with butter and Vegemite! I also recall the “Rabbit man” horse and cart ringing his bell when driving along our street and my grandmother picking up the horse droppings for the garden. We had our first telephone – big black item on the wall and our first TV when I was aged 5. Happy though to have had the opportunity to excel at primary school and have a place in a selective high school in the city from which I went on to university (my very intelligent mother having been denied this privilege) from which I gained a degree and post-graduate study leading to a successful career. My first house was a bed-sit which I bought after fighting for a loan, being a single female. On moving to Sydney after marriage we paid 13-17% interest on our home mortgage for MANY years, ultimately revelling in finally owning our own home. we’ve joined a lovely community of neighbors now and intend to stay put in our retirement with just sufficient consultancy work to keep us comfortable. Lucky to live in Australia for all of my life and continue to appreciate this great country.

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