Older Australians pessimistic about employment prospects

Font Size:

Older Australians, out of work due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, are more pessimistic about their future work prospects than those aged 44 and under – and with good reason.

A national Anglicare survey of people receiving Centrelink payments found that just 13 per cent believed that reporting obligations were helping them to find work.

Many of the respondents aged 45 and over believed that they would never find paid work again.

While that prospect is bleak, it is supported by government data showing that workers who lose their jobs later in life are much less likely to find work again.

According to the survey, many people over the age of 45 reported feeling unsupported by the government and did not believe that the system was designed to help them.

As the survey was conducted between June and November, many of those responses were recorded before the government announced its JobMaker hiring credit, which provides employees with a financial incentive to hire younger workers.

Around 79 per cent of respondents felt that their Centrelink activities were pointless.

Disturbingly, the survey also revealed that the old JobSeeker rate was leaving recipients with as little as $7 a day after paying rent, said Anglicare Australia executive director Dr Kasy Chambers.

“We need to stop the cuts and raise the rate of JobSeeker for good,” Dr Chambers said. “It should be a scandal that so many people were forced to skip meals so often. Some people we surveyed were couch surfing and skipping meals every day. With so little money, they simply had no choice.

“The government must raise the rate for good to stop condemning these Australians … to a life of poverty.

“We have a system that forces people to run a gauntlet of interviews, reporting, and administration that isn’t leading to work.

“Lynchpins of the system, like Work for the Dole and Jobactive, have repeatedly been shown to fail – and they waste millions of dollars a year. This survey shows that people on the coalface know it.

“Yet most people in our survey actually want to do activities that matter, and that lead them into work. Instead, they are being forced into pointless busywork.”

The survey showed that 74 per cent of respondents would be willing to do Centrelink activities if they were fair and 75 per cent want to do activities that lead to work.

“We need to overhaul this system once and for all,” Dr Chambers said. “It’s time to stop punishing people for being out of work, and start giving them the support they need.”

The survey also found that people aged over 55 volunteered at higher rate than those under 55 (47 per cent compared with 39 per cent).

The recommendations from Anglicare in the wake of the survey results suggest removing the disincentives for volunteering to enable these efforts to be rewarded and enabled as they are more beneficial to individuals than the tasks and obligations they are currently required to undertake.

Are you currently looking for work? How do you feel about your job prospects?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

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


Centrelink staff not ‘productive for customers’, report finds

Survey of Services Australia staff finds deep dissatisfaction with performance targets.

December Centrelink changes to affect half a million

New reporting changes due to start on 7 December will save the government $2.1 billion.

Centrelink Q&A: Can I upsize so I can claim the Age Pension?

Judy wants to sell her home and investment property to become eligible for the pension.

Written by Ben


Total Comments: 32
  1. 5

    The worst thing Centrelink gets wrong is how it takes away the time and energy people once had to find a job and instead makes them waste it on jumping through hoops for Centrelink staff. When I was younger and looking for my first job Centrelink was called the CES or Commonealth Employment Service. The CES was as useless as Centrelink for finding me a job so each time I was or became unemployed I did job seeking activities tailored to my own particular situation and resources. I always eventually found one. The CES did not require anything of me except that I let them know immediately when I got a job which I was always only to pleased to be able to do. Each time I was between jobs I gained more skills in the process of job seeking and eventually I stopped needing them there at all. I would never have had the work filled life I had if I had been so unfortunate as to live under the current system. I’ve seen what people go through and I know I could not have done it and found the work I did. Older people are not stupid. They already have life survival skills and, most of all, the majority are desperate to get back into the workforce.

    • 0

      I know somebody who back in the days of CES applied for 2 jobs that should have been taken off their notice board at least 3 weeks earlier. One company was able to prove that CES had been notified that the position had been filled and asked to remove the details from their notice boards. One position was advertised as apply in person and stated you had to go to the company office, not call first. It wasn’t near the person’s bus route and too far to walk so the person drove there, incurring the cost of fuel for nothing. The person was prepared to work a fair distance from home and do shift work too.

    • 2

      I go back before you. I can remember trying to get a job in 1970. Social Security had a filing card system , where they looked for a job for me. How novel was that?? They then rang the prospective employer to let them know I would be there for an interview at an agreed time on that day. They then rang the person who interviewed me to find out the result of hiring. This employer had not wanted to employ me because I wasn’t Catholic. After confirming that this was the only reason for non-employment, they were advised of this not being a valid reason, I was employed. The next time I needed help I was 47, then 52. I had no help from anyone, and both times I found my own jobs. There is a general consensus that if you are over 45, you’re too old to train, and quals without experience are worth shit!! There needs to be either more government jobs created for older employees, or more money given to at least recognise that there is no work for older employees

  2. 2

    I feel that the Federal Government has kicked older workers into the gutter. I’m turning 65 next month and would like to continue to work but it was harder enough before Morrison introduced his ‘buy a vote for younger workers,’ incentive but now it’s impossible. Went down to one of the nominated job agencies for an interview. They requested that I bring an updated resume, certificates, etc. When I got there they didn’t even ask me for them. I’ve been applying for more than the minimum target as set by Centrelink, Results….zero. I’m equally sick of hearing public option (2GB) that the Jobseeker has to be cut so as to get dole bludgers (must mean me?)back into the endless possibility of employment, that is out there because we are living the high life. Were all in this together……Hmmmmmm.

    • 3

      Exactly paul62307….these job agencies are huge cost on tax payer money and deliver very little especially for people 60 and over…..another piece of advice….don’t listen to 2GB unless you want to hear bias rubbish….those load mouths on 2GB should try living on jobseeker or the old newstart for just week and i wonder if they might change their draconian minds.I listened to 2GB for about 5mins some years ago that was enough for me….
      ever again.

    • 0

      Why are you having to look for a minimum amount of jobs, as directed by Centrelink?

    • 0

      The nasty thing is even if we want to keep working, the CES dump us off JobSeeker and push us onto the OAP, which is below what they would be paying us as job seekers. We have no choice. Just like we are forced to use our savings if we have them, or have them reduce our pensions based on some fictitious deeming rate. Just goes to show it’s all about numbers and paying people who need it the bare minimum. Bottom line is both JobSeeker and the OAP are below the poverty level and any level of acceptability, but the useless politicians gave themselves a pay rise and the wealthy with over 1.5M in super a massive windfall, at a cost that would have significantly outweighed the cost of fixing the problem. Meanwhile the pollies have their snouts in the trough and continue to give themselves more and more at the expense of the average Australian.

    • 0

      Centrelink require that you show evidence that you have at least applied for 4 job’s a month.

    • 0

      Paul62307 When you turn 60 You can do voluntary work for up to 30 hours per fortnight. You can also choose to do a combination of voluntary and paid work, but with less hours of paid work. No idea why they are making you look for 4 jobs per month at your age.

    • 0

      If the respective governments had employed just some of the older Australians into the CES, they’d have made an impact, done some good and created a workforce with life experiences that could help others. Instead, they dumbed down the public service, took away the old hiring requirements (which preferenced older workers) and staffed most departments including the CES with young inexperienced (cheaper) labor and created a situation where the CES can’t relate to older Australians and are absolutely no help. And the Public Service Unions stood by and watched it happen.
      I went through the indignity of having a 20-year old CES person question my military disability pension (I’m 85% deaf in both ears) and then tell me since I get a part-pension, why was I still trying to get a job? They couldn’t understand I still wanted to work and tried to push me onto a greater disability benefit. By the way, you can’t live on a part-pension).
      So I went seeking, reporting and wasting time, but in parallel, went job hunting. When you get a job and drop off, the pain of coming back into the system is excruciating. I recall getting shot wasn’t as painful.
      On another occasion I was pushed into job-readiness training which was so many levels below what I had been teaching in industry that it was a joke. No employer would have felt it was any value. I offered to teach a realistic course, but was rejected because I was not an approved provider. I spoke to a provider, but their response was we need someone who can relate to the younger Australians. When I showed them how many younger Australians I had successfully training, they then decided they couldn’t afford me. Funny thing was we never discussed rates.
      All of the Job Search Network Agencies are next to useless and are funded to keep job seekers from clogging up the system. Their role seems to be all about keeping you so busy reporting and doing other inconsequential stuff that you pull out. If just some of the $ Billions in funding that went into these agencies was properly directed at the unemployed, things might be better. But of course, we’d need to look at who owns these agencies and how much they earn from these crazy little side shows. Those that are non-profit still get a bundle and the couple of big groups earn a great fee. None seem to employ too many ex-CES clients, unless it’s at the burn and churn level.
      Most recently, I once again got a job on my own, but then lost it as a result of COVID. After one month on JobSeeker, I was forced onto the OAP even though I am still trying to get back to work. The CES doesn’t care. You are over OAP age, so you must go on it. We’ve downsized, sold off unnecessary assets, run down our rainy day savings and are surviving, but I feel for those worse off than us. I’m glad that when our friends were doing world cruises and buying new cars that we remained cautious. If we hadn’t, who knows how we’d be surviving.

  3. 5

    This is obviously a a topic full of emotion, it would be nice if we could point to somebody either a politician or an employment agency to blame for the current situation, the truth is this problem has been around for as long as I can remember, age discrimination has also been around for as long as I can remember, in fact it is the one consistent discrimination, over the years we have had this thing called positive discrimination, variably the target area has included women in certain industries, the disabled, indigenous people or people with disabilities, all great ideas and I don’t disagree with any of the , but can anyone remember a time when there was positive discrimination for older workers, I can’t, maybe we need someone who has a vested interest to champion the cause, don’t hold your breath waiting.

    • 0

      Companies use the excuse they don’t want to spend the time and money to train a person and them leave within 5 or less years later and them have to repeat the process. That is also the reason some women are discriminated against – they may leave or just go on Maternity Leave meaning another person has to be trained. Some companies employ staff but don’t tell them that they are only filling in until a Mum returns from Maternity Leave. One company the building was being renovated and that was the excuse that there was temporarily no space. Yes, they had renovated the space around her but she only found out from a friend a few months later the real reason she was dismissed.

    • 0

      It’s not about blame, but doing what is right. Supposedly there is a politician responsible for championing the cause, but they have consistently not understood the people they represent.

  4. 2

    “As the survey was conducted between June and November, many of those responses were recorded before the government announced its JobMaker hiring credit, which provides employees with a financial incentive to hire younger workers.”
    So as of now, 2021, it’s worse than your article portrays?
    Now employers are “coaxed” into employing younger workers at the cost of older workers, even more?
    All above all this is that if you “work” more than an hour a week, you are not counted as unemployed. So the actual figures are far worse!

  5. 1

    Mutual obligations re designed to get you off Jobseeker but not necessarily get you a job.

    • 3

      Mutual obligations are a farce. Supposedly they keep the job seeker busy, but all they do is cause them to become more and more despondent as people complete their mutual obligations but never get employed. We’ve all heard it: “you are over-qualified”, “you wouldn’t be happy in the job / salary we have to offer”, “we’re looking for someone with less experience”, “we’re looking for someone with 5-year’s experience in xyz new technology (which is only a year old!). Anything but say you are too old or we don’t want to pay you a realistic wage!

  6. 0

    The problem is that the pollies , like morrison etc, CEOs, bureaucrats, public servants and all the others at that level receive such a high comparative net income there is nothing left for such as social services. Include all the extras such as bonuses, allowances perks etc. Before saying that is a minor issue because of the smaller proportion of that cohort remember that everyone else is aspiring to that which just pushes it up to a much higher proportional significance.

  7. 3

    I had few interviews in the last couple of months, sometimes during the interview I was being asked point blank how old was I…unlawful question! After one successful interview and a starting day agreed upon, the job offer was rescinded when they found out my age…grrr!
    I agree with you sainter, “job agencies” and especially “job active” operators are nothing more than leaches on our society, and don’t start me on the “if you have a go, you’ll get a go”.

    • 5

      Oh my God – I had the same! I was blatantly asked by a young thing around 20, with tattoos all down her arms and neck (viewable) with a dozen ear piercings (at a large supermarket) – who spent the whole 8 minutes watching the clock. She asked why ‘someone your age would want to work’. Told it might involve moving cartons, and lifting to top shelves. (My hobby is horse riding, I lug around bales of hay, 40kg bags of feed, drag around horse float, etc). Asked me how I would tolerate having managers younger than myself.
      At another place, was asked ‘but you’re retired – you’re taking a place from a younger person’. Another time, I was told flat out that all employees in the company were under 40, and therefore I would have trouble ‘fitting in’.
      Happily no longer even look for work – wasted time, and expense.

    • 3

      Yes, it’s all a load of ____! I’ve never met a jab active operator who is worth anything or has any idea about skills and their value in the workforce.

  8. 3

    I wrote recently to a mate listing Morrison’s main failing as a lack of intelligence re China. My mate replied – even more, he lacks compassion for his fellow Australians in need. By the way, neither of us are on any Centrelink benefits or are in need of a job. To me, the answer to those seeking work or who are existing on the so called ever shrinking Jobseeker allowance is simple. We as average Australian people don’t need, and have never needed, the dogmatic, “money and social privilege” LNP government philosophy. What we need is a change in government, ASAP. The answer, in other words, lies in our hands in about 12 months time!

    • 2

      And these same politicians have put in place a system with bulls__t preferences that mean no matter who we vote for, one of the two parties will win, which means the same party, just with different players. Maybe its time we axed the preferential voting and went with a first past the post model. Or maybe we need a revolution to eradicate the corruption and bad government we have. What happened to government by the people for the people? What we have is government by those who have absolutely no affiliation with real people. We don’t have to be rocket scientists to do the sums: look at the net worth of politicians after just a couple of years in politics. Subtract their salaries and explain how they legally made their money. Or look at those who leave politics and go into well-paid jobs with big business (often with no real qualifications for the role, just their contacts in government).

  9. 2

    Yet again another flawed article designed to gather yet more invective about the current Government. For a start, it is not the Government failing to provide services for the unemployed it is the agencies that are paid to provide those services. The last time I was unemployed, albeit 10 years ago, I ended up being ‘ reported’ by the agency for not complying with their directive to complete a form by looking through the local yellow pages for the names of companies I wanted to work for. I told them I wanted to discuss the form with my ‘ counsellor’ then complete it at home and return the form after I had put considerable thought and research into the task. They refused me access to the counsellor and told me I couldn’t see them until the form was complete, nor could I complete it at home. I left and they reported me. Centrelink contacted me and told me my unemployment benefit was going to be suspended because I was not compliant. However, when I told them exactly what had gone on, they immediately reinstated my payments. I then wrote a letter to Canberra giving multiple examples of where the agency had failed in its contract with the Government (I got a copy of that contract and could identify chapter and verse). I was contacted and invited to a session at which the matter was investigated (I was not the only one there). In the end the agency lost its licence. BTW I had also refused to attend basic job search classes, CV writing and interviewing classes (I used to teach that stuff)! I was also applying for over 20 jobs a week that they had no part in and never checked or looked at the file I took with me every visit.

    The point of this sorry tale of woe is that it was the agency at fault – not the Government – , they use their position of power and people’s fear of retribution to make a profit from their contracts. The epilogue to this story was that I found myself a job, called them to say I would not be attending their offices anymore. I was then hounded everyday for weeks with them demanding to know my new employer and the salary I was getting. I responded by telling them they did nothing to help get me the role so they had no need of any further information. By refusing to give them that information, they could not claim extra Government payments for me now being employed!

    • 0

      The question this raises for me is why have the government privatised part of the Centrelink process? They have inserted a stage that absorbs tax payer funds converting them into profit for that company. There has been considerable comment here and in other forums about how these employment agencies do not act in the interests of jobseekers,

    • 2

      And who gives out these plumb contracts to the agencies? At one time one of the biggest ones belonged to a politician’s wife!

    • 0

      Tanker….these employment agencies are exactly what you have said…. private companies they have their KPI’s ….the more people they have on their books the better it is for them….this is one of the major reasons to get Federal Govt funding…..several years ago when i had to go to one of these agencies and i was in my early 60’s….the word i use to hear at every appointment with them was…..POSITIVE…yes i understand that…..but you get sick of hearing that word POSITIVE when there wasn’t much POSITIVE happening in my life at the time….I finally had to say to one of these consultants ….where can i buy a bottle of this POSITIVE…..of course it go down real good….but i was sick and tired of hearing this word POSITIVE.

  10. 0

    Yes Jamesg101472. A Labor Prime Minister!

Load More Comments



continue reading

Health news

Australians want to die at home - but do we achieve that goal?

How do you want to die? More than 70 per cent of Australians want the end to come at home,...


Rise in 'grey divorces' sparks warning from legal experts

More Australians are divorcing later in life, leading to "unique, confusing and overwhelming" challenges for couples aged over 50. The...


Friday Funnies: Short jokes for the shortest month

February flies by too fast, just like these short but sharp jokes. What is the recipe for Honeymoon Salad?Lettuce alone...


The four types of hearing loss explained

Research indicates that one in six Australians has some form of hearing loss.  Hearing loss refers to reduced hearing, which...


Fabulous Fish Pie

It should go without saying that a fish pie needs to have lots of big chunks of fish in it,...


Succulent Spice-Roasted Salmon

These little salmon bites are something I've made time and time again over the years and this method of roasting...


How to take great pictures of gardens

If you've never been too good at taking pictures of your beautiful blooms, now's the time to brush up on...

Aged Care

Paid on par with cleaners: the broader issue affecting aged care

Paid on par with cleaners: the broader issue affecting the quality of aged care Ben Farr-Wharton, Edith Cowan University; Matthew...