How do we achieve more inclusion for older workers?

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Australians who are willing and able to work should be allowed to do so, is the conclusion of a wide-ranging report into age and disability discrimination in the workplace.

Released yesterday by the Attorney General, George Brandis, Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability Report  is a wide-ranging and comprehensive inquiry into the real situation faced by many older people. Initiated by Age and Disability Commissioner Susan Ryan, it provides a detailed picture of the social, health and economic repercussions when a sector of the community is denied employment opportunities. The report is the result of Australia-wide consultations and research. YourLifeChoices was pleased to take part in the inquiry by attending a consultation in Melbourne and conducting an online survey, which received 5474 responses to 14 questions on the subject of work, age and discrimination. Commissioner Ryan makes five key recommendations to challenge the way we approach employment opportunities for older workers and those with a disability.

These are:

  • establishing a Minister for Longevity
  • developing a national action plan to combat discrimination and lift participation for those most affected
  • expanding the Workplace Gender Equality Agency to include diversity
  • creating national education campaigns to challenge the myths and stereotypes associated with older and disabled workers
  • adopting targets for employment and retention within the public service.

Perhaps the most important recommendation from this report is the call for a Minister for Longevity. Not an enhanced role for a Minister for Ageing, but a far broader role for a Minister for Longevity who can liaise with colleagues responsible for education, training, employment, treasury matters and health.

Read the full AHRC report.

Listen to ABC RN Drive host Patricia Karvelas interviewing Susan Ryan

Opinion: There’s still hope

You can be forgiven for thinking its Groundhog Day. Older workers are unwanted except as (unpaid) volunteers. But wait, there’s hope.

The release of the Willing to Work report yesterday told us many things we already know and have known for a couple of decades. Older Australians and those with a disability are systematically shut out of employment because of age and disability discrimination. Employers admit it. They ‘don’t know how to deal with’ older people and those with a disability. Mature workers, as we know, spend almost twice as long trying to get back into the workplace. They are rarely offered training. It’s not an exciting time to be an older worker at all. But full credit must be given to Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan who has brought expertise, gravitas and vision to her role and, in particular, to the broad scope of this inquiry.

The key aspect of the report which offers hope to older workers is the detailed evidence of the breadth of the impact that such discrimination has on the victims. Not only do they miss out on the economic benefits of ongoing, secure work, but they miss the social participation and the health benefits of being part of society, rather than existing on the edges. And in addressing this multi-policy challenge, the idea of a Minister for Longevity is a stroke of brilliance. This is not about ageing and decline and a gradual withdrawal from an active life. On the contrary, a Minister for Longevity can recalibrate the debate, so that we celebrate our longer lives with programs created via a sub-committee of Cabinet including the ministers responsible for employment, treasury, social services, education, health and industry, Innovation and Science. So the full gamut of Cabinet expertise can shine a much-needed light on ways to celebrate age and disability and unlock the wealth of human capital which is currently underutilised, or worse still, ignored.

Love your work, Susan Ryan.

What role does work play in your life? Are you willing to work but find yourself shut out from employment opportunities? Would you work more if you could?

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Written by Kaye Fallick


Total Comments: 88
  1. 0

    Yes I would go back to work at the drop of a hat. Since I was made redundant at 70 years long before I wanted to retire. I did make applications for a fair few jobs but was told go and do volunteer work. You know I was a credit manager for nearly 40 years a profession that I really loved. I have all that experience now going to waste. My mind is very sharp, I have no disability, am in good health, so why can I not have a job ? Cos you are to old, well I do not agree with that statement.

    • 0

      It’s not you personally, it is the mentality of the employer’s. Alas while the government went straight ahead with its changes, the key strategies for getting the older workers back into the workforce eventually fell into the too hard basket.
      As usual, the government is great on its strategies, just poor on their application and review!

    • 0

      There’s a great divide between the generations. The younger who generally are lazier, want everything handed to them now, and aren’t as willing to work as much as the baby boomers/ X gen. What an ironic shame that older workers are subjected to this treatment. Only experience can buy experience, not education.

    • 0

      Unlikely anything is going to work other than strict regulation (not happening) or over 50s forming an organisation where it recommends to its members that businesses which discriminate are vetoed. That would see a change in policy in a week and older Australians would be hired. Unfortunately this would come at the expense of younger workers.
      The real issue we face as a nation is that successive governments have sold out and sold off the nation for a quick buck. Now we have insufficient jobs and we are in financial trouble going forward. That is what bad government brings. And as normal it is never their fault with the routing scapegoats to blame, currently retirees.
      We can all make a difference by questioning a store manager about how many older Australians it employs, contacting head offices with same questions, and telling management that the store is now off the list and that the recommendation will be passed on to others…..who hopefully do the same. Good luck getting people to change their political party or their shopping habits. That is why it took Aldi 10 years to get customers into their stores.

    • 0

      Have you considered starting your own business?
      I have just set a disabled relative of mine in his own home business re-directing mail for the Grey Nomads.
      The process was first develop a SWOT analysis of your situation.
      Then research the current business environment and identify a niche market.
      Next investigate what the current business’s charge and do a cost analysis.
      Pick the one that has a lot of upside and market your service.
      All it took was to develop a web site and procedures and off he went. It was a slow start at first, but now he has a steady income and no longer on welfare.
      I think it was Dick Smith that said “All you need to do is find a business with poor or expensive service and open up next door.
      With current technology, their are unlimited opportunities.

      I have another enterprise in the pipeline that will sell a natural product that is FREE to source and sells on EBAY for up to $25 each. lots of upside here.

      Anyway, you sound like you have the skills and knowledge to forge your own path…Best of Luck.

    • 0

      The ridiculous unfair dismissal laws have made it too dangerous to employ any one but the very best you can find.

      It is no longer viable to “give some one a go” because you will be stuck with them if they don’t turn out well. Also as an employer I employed the minimum I could, as a downturn in business meant you had excess staff that cost a fortune to get rid of.

      As the best are not often the oldest, or the youngest, one tends to avoid the probability of mistakes in hiring, by avoiding those age brackets. It may not be fair, but it is the only way to go, when getting rid of your mistakes in hiring is so expensive.

      Few business today have the luxury of carrying non productive staff. Of course public funded commissioners such as Susan Ryan think it’s OK for us all to fund non productive people by incorporating them into the public service. As if that is not feather beaded enough already.

    • 0

      You haven’t heard Hasbeen: Australia’s workforce has been turned into part time contractors. That way businesses which could easily created full time jobs doles out hours rather than pay for full time work and avoids add-ons, which are included in the low hourly rate. So 3 full time jobs become 6 part time positions.
      I understand that Australia leads the world in 4 hour jobs. Disgraceful.

  2. 0

    Variety of work types, from a casual short few hours to ongoing nearly full time.
    Not the biggest money per hour, but it helps me keep my mind active doing work I enjoy, and returns enough to buy me a few extra “niceties”.

  3. 0

    Another excuse to create more red tape and another ministry, nothing will change alas! Maybe ( Soylent Green) will become a reality!

  4. 0

    I’d like to know how long the community & Government expect people to work ! The pressure on retirees to go back to work seems to increase each year. We retired at 70/71 from both working full time.

    Still both working part time at 73/74. Had a horrendous 2015 with health issues – 1 life threatening. Both coming good & expecting to work another 12 months or so. But it does get tiring.

    Our job requires keeping up with continually changing legislation & technology, being legally responsible for what we do. Also having to meet deadlines. So it can be stressful too. Thats increasing harder to deal with as we age & bad for our health.

    Cant help wondering why oldies are expected to work when the wealthy get tax breaks to put money into their own Super funds, depriving taxpayers of taxes for aged pensions. Then the wealthy retire early on huge Super income, partly financed by those of us under pressure to work till we drop dead !

    • 0

      Supernan, it is not about being ‘expected’ to work, its about being able to if you want to. If people didn’t want to work there would be no discrimination because no-one over 50 would be applying for jobs.

    • 0

      Really KSS. I recall the retirement age is being reset to 70 a la Tony Abbott. Has that changed?

    • 0

      MICK There is no ‘retirement age’ in Australia.

      If you mean the age at which you may be eligible to apply for a Government aged pension, then yes the proposal is to raise it to 70 from the current 67. BUT if you are working and wish to continue to do so, unless you are a High Court Judge (or a priest I believe), there is NO mandatory retirement age.

      You can retire whenever you want even now, you just can’t get a Government provided pension until you meet the requirements one of which is a particular age.

    • 0

      Pension age = retirement age. And yes there are also shades of grey…but not for the vast majority. Of course judges and pollies get a pretty good deal.

    • 0

      Retirement age has nothing to do with pension age Mick unless you want to put your hand out for welfare.

    • 0

      The age pension is NOT welfare, Bonny. The way the privileged insult the disadvantaged is disgusting. As is the mere suggestion of denying people access to age pension support until age 70.

      The real LIFTERS in this nation were paid crap wages for doing dangerous, physically strenuous, or health-jeopardising jobs and simply cannot keep working into old age. It’s all very well for the privileged who had good education and opportunities. Those who have been labouring or fencing or tiling or laying bricks since age 15 (or a host of other strenuous, dangerous or stressful jobs) are worn out. And many of them, especially those without trade qualifications, didn’t earn nearly enough to support themselves in retirement – especially with the low investment returns prevailing now. Superannuation was for the privileged only until quite recently, and even when national super came in, low income workers got little or no benefit. For many, the admin fees were higher than the employer contributions for many years!

      It’s vile and sickening that people who benefited from the hard work by underpaid, over-taxed battlers now scorn them for needing a pension and suggest that they should be left in poverty if they can’t continue to slave for miserable wages well into old age.

      Australians have lost their basic decency. The land of the ”fair go” is no more. Just stop for a minute and think how well off we would be if electricity workers hadn’t risked their lives climbing 66 ft poles in freezing weather for wages not much more than unemployment benefits. Where would we be if road workers didn’t swing shovels in stinking heatwaves for wages many of you self-opinionated ”’SFRs” wouldn’t get out of bed for? Where would we be if there were no carers to slave 24/7, 365 days a year, for less money than we pay a junior street sweeper – doing the hardest and most thankless task there is, out of love and respect. How much extra tax would we need to collect if they all threw up their hands and said ”put the disabled in homes and pay for professional care”?

      The ingrates here who scorn pensioners and condemn battlers to poverty for wrecking their bodies in hard work are the lowest of the low. They deserve to be put in stocks and have rotten fruit thrown at them. And everything they own confiscated until they learn some humility and empathy and to show respect for others.

    • 0

      Personally Bronnie I consider the pensions of MPs as being “welfare”. Your should be stopped.

  5. 0

    I can’t wait to retire. Surveys have proved that retired adults are healthier and more active than when they worked. I look forward to having the time to go to a gym and cook better meals. Making preserves, cakes and of course creating art works. If I can fit in the time I may run a part time art practice. A slave forever is not my goal.

    • 0

      Be careful what you wish for jackie. I agree with your view on being enslaved. Sort of like that for all of us.

    • 0

      May be Jackie, and then there are those who are so defined by their work, they die shortly after they retire, or become very depressed because they have nothing to do, no friends and no where to go.

      Its all about choices. Those who want to work beyond pensionable age should be able to do so if they wish. It may not be for everyone but age discrimination should not be part of the equation.

    • 0

      Odd, though, KSS, that some here insist that only the well-to-do are entitled to make choices. The disadvantaged are supposed to either be enslaved until they drop dead, or starve and suffer humiliation on New Start. Disgusting!

  6. 0

    Interesting the timing of this report supposedly giving encouragement to seniors while in actuality nothing will be forthcoming. George Brandis is a dinosaur who wont retire and when he does( hopefully at the next election) it will be none too soon on his big fat pension while having given nothing to Australia with his time in Parliament except to harass people who want to only have respect in their later years.
    He is one of those who pull Turnstiles strings and keep Australian in the Dark Ages.
    Go away George and allow somebody to do this job properly.

    • 0

      Might be electioneering from the government trying to convince the electorate that it cares. It doesn’t.
      After the election this rhetoric will disappear faster than a brick dropped into the ocean.

  7. 0

    I guess I would love to work again – retired at 70 from Govt office – loved my job, lots of people contact etc – but now at nearly 82 and working full time at home (I am sure many ladies do the same thing!!) but after completing all the usual mundane household tasks, cooking and caring for 2 men, (by the way I have put in a request to be a man next time round!) I have now given myself a couple of medals as I used to do all this as well as work!! so I guess old age HAS crept up on me!! Sadly no large super to sub the income either. Ah well, guess one must be duly grateful to be able to do it eh? Believe me I am!!!!

  8. 0

    I work full time as an unpaid volunteer. At 70 I feel great, and don’t know why employers think over the hill means our brains no longer work! I have a great super pension, so will continue to work until I drop (all being well) I consider that I am very blessed to do what I love doing – working!!!!

  9. 0

    i”ve been happily retired for 10 years now and would never go back to the early mornings and alarm clocks associated with work.
    I can now get up when it suits me and have a leisurely breakfast before I fire up the computer to see how the overnight share markets went. BLISS!
    Now that we have the internet there are many activities available at home doing your own thing rather than the hectic, nerve racking rush to work for some stranger.
    e.g. share trading, online chess, online shopping, reading the news.

  10. 0

    All these people wanting to work! I couldn’t wait to go (at 62), despite an interesting and varied career. I now spend time doing the things I want to do, not what my clients wanted. Sometimes I get a call from somebody with a problem that the younger people can’t yet handle, and I get calls to give talks, but otherwise it is all MY life.

    Leave working to the younger ones, they need the money and they still have the DRIVE to get to the top and achieve. Been there, done that.

    • 0

      What, you waited until 62? Good when people can make that call though as many can’t.

    • 0

      If you really enjoy doing what you do then why retire? Doesn’t make sense to me. Of course I’m speaking from a place of self employment. It’s a lot different if you’re working for someone else.

    • 0

      It makes sense if you are a consultant with 40 odd years being recognised in your field, then being told by some piss-ant public servant just out of uni that your work doesn’t meet the requirements of poorly written legislation and they can’t tick a box, and insist that you do some idiotic process that makes no scientific sense, because they haven’t got the experience to know any better.

      Constantly butting your head against a wall of a bureaucracy full of half wits who can’t get jobs in the real world makes no sense at all, from my perspective. Money and power and “getting to the top” is all well and good, but going for a walk in the countryside and looking at lovely flowers has a positive as well.

    • 0

      I have to smile Janus. Ain’t life a conundrum. Great post.

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