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

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