Monthly Archives: April 2015

Age discrimination affects over 25% of older Australians

Reprinted from Australian Human Rights Commission e-news, April 23, 2015

Over a quarter of older Australians have experienced some form of age discrimination according to national survey results released today by Treasurer Joe Hockey and Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan.

The National Prevalence Survey of Age Discrimination in the Workplace revealed the extent of discrimination faced by Australians aged 50 years and over.

Treasure Joe Hockey said there needs to be a national conversation about age discrimination in the workforce.

“You have to identify the barriers for entry to work for older Australians,” Mr Hockey said.

“You’ve got to help us to identify the impediments for them to remain in the workforce.

“Age discrimination is as reprehensible as racial discrimination, as religious discrimination.”

The survey found that 27 per cent of Australians aged 50 years and over had experienced some form of age discrimination in the last two years. Of those who experienced age discrimination, 80 per cent reported negative impacts.

Commissioner Ryan said “Age discrimination is most commonly experienced when older people are out of a job and looking for paid work rather than while they are in a job or running a business”.

“Nearly three in five (58 per cent) of those who were out of a job and seeking paid work were a target of age discrimination.”

The survey found that the groups most vulnerable to experiencing age discrimination were typically people who were in a lower income bracket or in a single parent household.

Commissioner Ryan said the economic case for addressing age discrimination was “overwhelming”.

“It is urgent that we act to break down workplace cultures of age discrimination so older people are not only retained but also hired,” Commissioner Ryan said.

“With average life expectancies approaching 100 years in the foreseeable future, we need to realise that if people leave the workforce in their 50s due to discrimination, negative attitudes and the absence of pathways to retrain, they may have additional 40 or more years of life without paid work.

“I hope this research will be the catalyst for business leaders and policy makers to tackle age discrimination in the workforce and liberate the economic potential of older Australians.”

The survey was conducted for the Australian Human Rights Commission by Roy Morgan Research. The results were launched at Insurance Australia Group (IAG) in Sydney.

“It is in everyone’s interest to have a workforce that is adaptive of our ageing population,” IAG Chairman, Brian Schwartz said.

“We support the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission in addressing age discrimination and highlighting the benefits of providing for, and retaining, an ageing workforce.”

The survey is available online at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/age-discrimination/publications/national-prevalence-survey-age-discrimination-workplace

Launch of “Willing to Work Inquiry”

Today I had the pleasure of watching on YouTube the official launch of the “Willing to Work Inquiry” by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Led by Anti-discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan  the inquiry will tackle the problem of changing attitudes in the workplace to overcome employment discrimination toward mature age people over 55 and those with disabilities.

Currently only 16% of our national workforce is of mature age and Susan Ryan pointed out that “Research by Deloitte shows that increasing the older workforce by 5 per cent would bring an extra $48 billion annually to Australia’s GDP”

Even though there are laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of age or disability she said the challenges are not for stronger enforcement but to change attitudes of employers and change their perceptions of the value to their businesses of mature age workers. She said that numerous major corporations are embracing mature age and workers with disabilities and cited Westpac who now have 12% of their employees as people with a disability and Bunnings who have long had a policy of hiring older trades people into their retail customer service staff with positive results in feedback surveys from customers.

The Inquiry will be conducted at the request of the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, who attended and officially launched the Inquiry this morning. It will be led by the Age and Disability Commissioner, Susan Ryan. The inquiry will seek to identify the barriers that prevent people from working, and in consultation with employers, affected individuals and other stakeholders establish strategies to overcome these barriers.

“Willing to Work is most timely as employment rates for both older people and those with disability remain unacceptably low,” said Commissioner Ryan. While about a quarter of the population is older, they make up just 16 per cent of the workforce. Australians with a disability make up 15 per cent of the working age population, but only 10 per cent of them have jobs.

In response to questions from the media present, Commissioner Ryan commented that there are several entrenched beliefs among business managers about mature age workers, none of which are substantiated by evidence; things like, people over 50 are reluctant to adapt and change, they won’t learn new skills, they don’t relate to the younger staff and they get sick more often. These are the false impressions that must be overcome.

The Inquiry will shortly publish an issues paper, a call for submissions and plans for consultations around the country.
“We hope to engage employers of all sizes across public and private employment as well as older people and people with disability themselves and their representative organisations. We will have the cooperation of the relevant government departments. The common goal is to improve opportunities for those experiencing workplace discrimination and maximise human potential to the benefit of all of us,” said Ms Ryan.
The Inquiry will conclude and report by July 2016.

SilverTemp intends to participate in this inquiry with input from our experiences in finding work for seniors in the Northern Rivers of NSW