Campaign to fight for older people

Are you ageist?

That’s the question being asked of every Australian as the new EveryAGE Counts campaign tries to tackle ageism, discrimination and protect the rights of older people.

The campaign was launched this morning by former federal Minister and Red Cross chief executive Robert Tickner AO and Commonwealth Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson AO, and features this video starring Australian actor Bryan Brown.

And YourLifeChoices continues its ongoing crusade for dignity in retirement, now with some extra clout, as publisher Kaye Fallick is a member of the EveryAGE Counts Campaign Coalition Steering Group.

Campaign co-chair Robert Tickner said that ageism is a unique form of prejudice, in that we’ll all one day (hopefully) grow old, so in essence, it is discrimination against our future selves.

Mr Tickner called for a National Agenda for Older Australians to improve economic, social, health and civic participation outcomes for older people.

“We want to see whole-of-government action on ageing and ageism, and that governments maintain a ministerial position responsible for ageing and older Australians, which has cross-portfolio responsibility, to ensure that policies and programs take an integrated, life-course approach and aren’t relegated to siloed health and social welfare portfolios.

“We would like to see governments at all levels help drive a public conversation about ageing and ageism including support for a broad, sustained public awareness and education campaign,” said Mr Tickner.

Our ageing population is rapidly increasing, with the number of Australians over 65 expected to more than double by 2055, so addressing these issues now is paramount.

“It’s an enormous opportunity, but outdated negative attitudes and beliefs about ageing and older people are preventing older people from contributing – socially and economically – and, therefore, our communities and our economy are missing out on the many benefits of its citizens living longer, healthier lives,” said Dr Patterson.

While ageism is a constant for many older Australians, so too is the challenge of staying employed into later life – a problem the Government needs to solve if it wishes to manage the cost of funding welfare for older people.

Not only is it difficult for unemployed older people to find a job, it seems staying in one is also a challenge, with Dr Patterson saying that two-thirds of all age discrimination complaints relate to workplace experiences.

“The latest survey by the Australian Human Resources Institute found that almost a third of organisations are reluctant to recruit workers over 50,” she said.

Executive director at The Benevolent Society, Dr Kirsty Nowlan, hopes that the campaign will change the unfair portrayal of older Australians being a burden both economically and socially.

“This not only devalues most people’s experience, it stops us from discussing the diversity of experiences faced by people as they get older, many of which should be incredibly positive,” said Dr Nowlan.

The EveryAGE Counts campaign will call on all Australians to end ageism, through a movement that encourages everyone to be involved in the change they’d like to see and to speak out against ageism in all forms.

“I challenge every person and organisation to think about the implications this has for them,” said Dr Patterson.

“Don’t see this as an issue for others. This is personal. It is about every one of us – today, in a year or two, or in 30 years.”

Australians are being asked to take action by visiting the campaign website www.everyagecounts.org.au, watch the video and share it with friends and family, sign the pledge, and share their own stories and experiences of ageism.

How has ageism affected you? Are you hopeful the campaign will have positive outcomes?

Related articles:
Crusading for dignity in retirement
Ageism is ingrained: Professor
Older Australians on ageism

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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