Older Australians are tired of being treated like a burden

Font Size:

Older Australians are tired of being treated like an economic burden, say YourLifeChoices members, with around three quarters saying they are treated as a liability by governments and the community in general.

The Friday Flash Poll: Perceptions of older people had 680 respondents mostly aged between 60 and 79, with 78 per cent retired, 14 per cent nearing retirement and eight per cent not thinking about retirement.

Around one third (30 per cent) receive a full-Age Pension, 24 per cent were fully self-funded retirees and 24 per cent were partly self-funded. A total of 15 per cent were employed either full-time, part-time or casually.

Almost four in 10 (39 per cent) feel they are treated by society as an economic burden, with another 35 per cent saying they sometimes feel that way. Only 19 per cent said they did not feel like a burden and eight per cent said they ‘somewhat’ feel that way.

In fact, most members took umbrage at the fact that they are seen as a burden.

“I take umbrage at anyone, whoever they may be, making the comment that the older generation is a burden on society. Speaking for myself and probably for most of my generation, I went straight from high school into a job at age 16 and, apart from the two years when I had my children, I worked until I retired at age 70. And, after that, did my fair share of volunteering. I was born during World War II years, so my parents struggled with rationing and food shortages and, of course, the uncertainties of war. Once I married, my husband and I worked hard to save a deposit for a house which didn’t come with all mod cons… We decided not to start a family until we could provide for our children. So, I don’t think anybody has the right to regard my generation as a burden – we paid our way and paid our taxes, even when the going was tough,” wrote Arjan.

“[I’m] 54 and earn a full-time income and have paid taxes for 36 years, I also am made to feel stupid, worthless and past my prime, when the opposite is true. It’s not only pensioners but anyone over 40 who are treated as a burden, taking jobs away from the young etc. The truth is the experience and knowledge I bring to my place of employment could not be replaced with a younger person, which is true of any older person who has spent a lifetime working. Try every day to dispel the myths of ageing and present ageing in a positive way, as a gift that not everyone enjoys!” wrote Ted Wards.

Some are a little more sympathetic to the plight of younger people.

“The reality is times have changed. Our young people do not have the luxury of definite ongoing employment. For the most part, it is casual and intermittent … so their chance of ever getting a loan is zilch! Add to that the fact that housing is not affordable for most of them. Perhaps a better way to look at this is that you have enjoyed the fruits of a better life … one that will not be available to most of them,” wrote Pentop.

Still, older people believe the current economic situation can be overcome by the youth of today and say that although older generations had some favourable winds blowing in their direction, there were plenty of other challenges over which to prevail.

“I do agree that jobs tend to be not as permanent as they used to be, but I think some of that is because people have more opportunities in different areas. When I was young, the opportunities for me were either the steelworks or the mines…” wrote Jim.

When it comes to the community recognising the contributions made to society by older people, 90 per cent said they’re always, sometimes or somewhat overlooked. Only 10 per cent feel they get their dues.

“Yes, I for one am dismayed by the attitude about us ‘oldies’ being a ‘burden’ on society. Some people need a reality check. I am not against the vast majority of millennials at all, nor am I a grumpy old fart, however, a reality check and appreciation and sincere respect of what us baby boomers have accomplished is warranted,” wrote David.

A recent paper by the Australian Institute of Family Studies measured the contribution of unpaid work by those aged 55 and over to be $74 billion. There’s also the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ (BoMaD) to consider, with research revealing it to be the fifth biggest lender in Australia, with $65.3 billion lent to adult children, mostly to help them buy property. Unpaid carers and volunteers provide huge contributions to society, often helping out those who are either overlooked by government policies or who can’t afford the cost of care or even food.

“What about the many retirees who work volunteering tirelessly for the betterment of their respective communities? A burden? No bloody way! Australia would rapidly grind to a halt without we volunteering seniors,” wrote Culgoa.

“It has been calculated that if retirees withdrew from unpaid work, then governments would need to fund more than the cost of the Age Pension to pay others to carry out these tasks. The fact is that many people never stop working, they just modify the way in which they contribute to society,” wrote Maelcolium.

Almost seven in 10 (68 per cent) feel that other countries treat older people better than they do in Australia, with 27 per cent saying they are unsure and just five per cent saying Australia treats the older generation just fine.

“Have a look at the stats to see how we compare to other countries on how much is allocated to welfare/pensions. Australia has a 3.5 per cent of its GDP as against OECD of 7.8 per cent. Of course these boys don’t want us to see these figures as it shows what a bad job they are doing,” wrote Deejay.

“As long as politicians get their huge salaries and perks, how the hell do you think these lot care about aged pensioners? The base rate of the Age Pension needs to be increased significantly to avoid more pension poverty, but this will never happen because these highly educated pollies simply don’t care,” he added.

In fact, many respondents say the current crop of politicians is simply out of touch with the plight of real Australians.

“The true burden is the retired pollies who get a huge pension and do not need it with all their wealth, never asset tested. This is what is ruining this country – too many perks for the few who think they are entitled. Can’t wait for the next generation to make drastic changes,” wrote Musicveg.

With many older people saying they are tired of being treated as a burden, could there be a rude awakening at the federal election.

“The comment ‘Australia spends an average of 3.5 per cent of its GDP on age-related spending against an OECD average of 7.8 per cent’ says it all. We may not be one of the meanest countries in the OECD, we may be the meanest. Retirees need to act now using their collective strength (three million plus being approximately 20 per cent of the electorate), and throw them out,” wrote GeorgeM.

As angry as many older people are about society’s perceptions of them, Mandy has a positive message for young and ‘old’.

“Life is a journey and we are all somewhere along the road. None of us stay young forever. Not all are fortunate enough to reach old age … I suggest to those still young enough, to strive to work towards making the world a place where they would like to enjoy their retirement rather than trying to make it worse for those who are trying to make the best of what they have got. Otherwise they may inherit a future generation who wants to pull the rug from under their feet,” wrote Mandy.

YourLifeChoices strives to portray the value and contributions of older Australians, so we asked our members if they thought we were doing a good job in that department. We were staggered by the response. Four in five respondents said we always or mostly do a good job advocating for the rights and entitlements due to older people. However, as with all things, there is room for improvement – and we take up the challenge to do more.

Are you prepared to send a message to the major parties in the next federal election? What do you think could be done to change the perception of older people?

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Psychology professor suggests the root cause of ageism

Ageism is a real thing and is engrained in the human psyche: psychology professor.

Tax laws penalising older workers

Tax laws are costing some older workers thousands.

Ageism is a part of daily life for older Australians

An overwhelming number of older Australians experience ageism in their daily lives.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 23
  1. 0

    I wonder what hourly rate was applied to calculate the $74 Billion contribution of volunteering? This calculation has been done before (about 15 years ago, by University of Adelaide, I think) and they applied an hourly rate of $7 when the minimum wage was $11.69 per hour. I think a rate of of say $20 an hour should be applied.

    • 0

      According to the latest figures a volunteer worth is $41.72 an hour. They look at the cost of replacing the volunteer with a paid worker. However, that doesn’t address the real cost to the organisations with such things like insurance, admin etc. For me to coordinate our 30 volunteers takes me a lot, we also legally have to have special volunteer insurance, over our public liability and Director’s Insurances.. However our volunteers are a part of our family and its the other things they bring that you can’t put a price on, makes them invaluable.

  2. 0

    Yes – not only do we get viewed as a burden, we are also viewed as a cash cow quite OK to steal from – particularly by labour and their union mates.

  3. 0

    If we continue down the same track as we are heading i.e. getting rid of coal fired power despite it haven’t absolutely no effect on the climate, the younger generation will have to work even harder than they do now as coal provides a pretty hefty part of our economic wealth that all Australians have benefited from over the years. So stop blaming us oldies and start contemplating how the country intends to provide economic power supply in the future and its not via wind farms and sunshine.

    • 0

      follow the lead of the UK, they do not need coal.

    • 0

      But the UK has nuclear power 80 plus and that is not and will not even be contemplated here despite the huge uranium deposits.

    • 0

      KSS, nuclear is becoming less relevant in the UK. They are not building new nuclear plants and outages have raised concerns over longevity of its eight ageing plants. Seven of these are already near or exceeding design life and due to be retired in the next decade. Hitachi has abandoned plans for two new plants and Toshiba another that were to have supplied 15% of demand.

      “Toshiba and Hitachi have pulled out of building new reactors, we have one third of the existing nuclear capacity unavailable either for maintenance or because their maximum power has been reduced as they get older.”

    • 0

      80 plus U K only tried this for a short while and in the process used gas (fossil fuel), besides nuclear and also imported wood which must have come from some forest being cut down and let us not forget that their transport still runs on fossil fuel. Technology in renewables is advancing rapidly but we are going to slow the progress if we destroy the economy.

  4. 0

    If we continue down the same track as we are heading i.e. getting rid of coal fired power despite it haven’t absolutely no effect on the climate, the younger generation will have to work even harder than they do now as coal provides a pretty hefty part of our economic wealth that all Australians have benefited from over the years. So stop blaming us oldies and start contemplating how the country intends to provide economic power supply in the future and its not via wind farms and sunshine.

    • 0

      Sorry but your post is wrong both scientifically and economically.
      You are just repeating the dinosaur age propaganda of the Liberal and National Parties.

    • 0

      And you could be said to be parroting the Greens and ALP Dave R. The fact is coal DOES provide an enormous amount of Australia’s economic wealth and that needs to be replaced. South Australia has already shown the unreliability of current solar and wind generated power and this needs to be addressed too – preferably before coal mining is closed down.

    • 0

      Inextratime and KSS, you are both wrong. Existing coal plants will continue to operate but there is no appetite for new coal investment from those who might actually kick the tin to fund it.

      Your limited understanding of the SA current renewable generation leads you to make incorrect conclusions. There have been no major outages since the transmission related disruption of the summer of 2016/17. In fact, it’s quite possibly been the most reliable grid in the country.

      Your dubious opinions concerning reliability are arguable at best. Gas and coal power plants, including newer HELE plants, broke down 135 times in 2018, a rate of once every 2.7 days. The HELE fleet proved to be less reliable than the older black coal fleet during the extreme heat events. The Yallourn brown coal generators were twice as likely to break down as black coal. Gas is recognised as the preferred transition fuel from fossil to renewables.

      AEMO and the CSIRO show that wind and solar with either battery storage or pumped hydro storage as clearly the cheapest, cleanest and most efficient option.

  5. 0

    It is with great sadness that I have to say that the present situation of senior bashing and youth unemployment is due to the greedy, self-centred slugs who occupy parliament. It is they who create the laws and regulations that are used to divide and conquer the population, while they award themselves wages and perks not attainable elsewhere, and which come out of our pockets. If they were genuinely interested in their country and its people, they would be constantly working to honour and support senior Australians, and create a fair and economically accessible environment for young and old alike. Malcolm Fraser famously said “life wasn’t meant to be easy”, but our pollies, wittingly it seems, make sure it isn’t.

    • 0

      don’t blame them Bill, we are the ones that vote them in time after time so they only reflect our priorities. If this were not the case then we would be voting for change.

    • 0

      I agree with your sentiments, Bill, however I have to agree with Farside that we the people have put them there by not voting them OUT in each election when they don’t deliver for us. It is time to turf out as many of them as possible.

      Note that 3 Million+ Retirees (being around 20% of the electorate) can make a difference, noting that 44 (out of 151) Lower House seats are currently on Margins of less than 5%. At least, vote OUT all the non-performers!

      The best thing to do in the current situation is to be assign preferences very logically & purposefully with a strategy as follows:

      Put as No. 1 for your favourite candidate (supporting Retirees preferably),
      Put your No. 2 as the alternative one who you think can win and who may be acceptable to you,
      Put all extremists at the end (including opportunist Independents claiming to be able to fix Climate Change), and
      Put the remaining in between such that the sitting Major party MP is definitely below the alternative Major party candidate (just above the extremists).

      If enough people do this, you will a) know you did your best, b) hopefully the useless sitting MP will lose their seat, and c) maybe even your preferred candidate has a chance to win.

  6. 0

    Good luck to the younger generation as they become older, aged and frail.
    “What goes around comes around” or “as you sow, so shall you reap” is the basic understanding of how karma, the law of cause and effect, works. The word karma literally means “activity.” Karma can be divided up into a few simple categories — good, bad, individual and collective

  7. 0

    ‘Australia spends an average of 3.5 per cent of its GDP on age-related spending against an OECD average of 7.8 per cent’ says it all. We’d spend more on WOMEN related items. Sick of it.

  8. 0

    A large vote for…none of the above…might help

  9. 0

    A large vote for…none of the above…might help

  10. 0

    I’ll vote for the party that will pay a decent and respectable universal age pension..Not the current mob who gives us a miserly pittance controlled by nazi robo debt.



continue reading


Friday Funnies: The barista and the spoon

Enjoy these caffeinated jokes from Readers Digest while you sip your morning coffee. They may even improve the best part...


What chickens can tell us about living with COVID-19

Professor Amir Hadjinoormohammadi As the world grapples with rolling out various vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, there...


Vaccinations, transmission, contact tracing: COVID questions answered

What do we know about COVID-19? Given how new the disease is, how much has been learnt in the past...

Mental Health

What is agoraphobia and how is it treated?

Popping to the shops, picking up a coffee on the way to work, queuing up for entry to a gallery...


Benefits of kefir and what to look out for

Forget kale and nut butter: fermented foods are the one big health trend we'll all be spooning into our diet...

Age Pension

CPI figures point to an increase in the Age Pension in March

After pensioners were denied an Age Pension increase in September last year, due to a rare case of deflation in...


MND breakthrough offers hope damaged nerve cells can be repaired

There is hope of a breakthrough in treating motor neurone disease (MND) after Edinburgh researchers found a way to repair...


Avoid these common mistakes people make with bleach

Bleach is one of the most effective and least expensive disinfectants around, but it pays to remember it's not an...