Older Aussies on the scrapheap

Australians are living longer and more than two-thirds* are concerned that their retirement income won’t last as long as they will. An obvious solution is to continue working for longer, but Anglicare Australia says the job market and Newstart are failing older Australians.

The social advocacy organisation wants the Government to overhaul employment services for older people in the wake of its Jobs Availability Snapshot.

Roland Manderson, acting executive director of Anglicare Australia, says the jobs market is failing people who need the most help to find work.

“Our research shows that at least five disadvantaged jobseekers are competing for each job at their level,” he said.

“Older people face even tougher odds. The job market is changing fast and age discrimination makes it harder to compete.”

Mr Manderson said the low rate of the Newstart allowance created particular problems for older people.

“The stereotype is that Newstart is for younger people, but that’s a myth. Around half of all people on Newstart are mature age jobseekers – and the number of older Australians on Newstart is growing by 10,000 a year.

“Instead of preparing to retire, many people are now selling their homes and spending their savings. Nobody should be forced to retire into poverty.”

Anglicare Australia wants the employment services system reformed.

“It’s time to overhaul the Jobactive network,” said Mr Manderson. “It’s taking an average of five years to find work for those who need the most help. And that’s bad news for older people. Once a person over 50 has been unemployed for over a year, they’re unlikely to ever find a job.

“We need to offer tailored support to older people looking for work. That means smaller caseloads for Jobactive staff, more time to work with jobseekers and less time wasted on compliance.

“We particularly need to abandon the cruel, pointless changes of recent years.

“People over 55 used to be allowed to meet their mutual obligation requirements with volunteering. That makes a lot of sense for many, given their strengths and circumstances. The recent decision to take that option away from people is counter-productive and must be reversed.

“And if we want to stop people from retiring into poverty, then we must raise Newstart and stop lifting the pension age.

“These changes are all urgent. If we don’t fix this broken system, we will be forcing people to spend their older years in poverty, starting with the unreasonable expectation that they find a job that isn’t there.”

Anglicare Australia reported earlier this month that more than half a million people had been suspended from Centrelink payments for not trying hard enough to land a job – but the Jobs Availability Snapshot showed that the jobs weren’t there.

Are you planning to work past the Age Pension age? Are you struggling to find work? And survive on Newstart?

*YourLifeChoices 2018 Ensuring Financial Security in Retirement Survey.

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Written by Janelle Ward

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