Smaller, older Australia need not be feared if we can crush ageism

Smaller, older Australia need not be feared if we can crush ageism

The new Intergenerational Report (IGR) has projected Covid will make Australia's population smaller and older than earlier predicted, but that need not be a problem if we can take real steps to address the blight of ageism, according to the EveryAGE Counts campaign.

In launching the IGR, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government remains committed to funding essential services while maintaining a sustainable tax burden.

EveryAGE Counts Campaign Director Marlene Krasovitsky said the key to achieving these goals is making a concerted effort to fight ageism.

"Ageism is now a huge drag on our economic growth," Ms Krasovitsky said.

"Our assumption that everyone over 65 is rushing to retirement does not stand to scrutiny. The latest data from the COTA Federation last week showed only 49 per cent of those over 65 had retired, down significantly from 2018 when 60 per cent were retired.

"The reality is most older Australians are living longer, healthier lives and they want, or need, to work longer. So what's holding them back? Ageism.

"37 per cent of Australians have experienced discrimination since turning 50, and that's up from 23 per cent in 2018. 26 per cent have experienced employment related discrimination.

"If we want to maintain funding for essential services and infrastructure we need to lift the labour force participation rates of older people who want or need to work.That means we have to address ageism at its root – the stereotypes, assumptions, and discrimination that currently lock older people out of work.

“The IGR has found pretty much all participation increases over the next 40 years will come from people above the age of 40. That means we simply can’t afford to continue carrying around outdated ageist notions about older Australians. They’re holding us back."

Ms Krasovitsky said the 2021 Intergenerational Report should prompt the federal government to invest in a program to start lowering the rates of ageism and age-based discrimination in Australia.

"We need a sustained public and workplace education campaign to challenge the myths and negative attitudes about older people in the workforce," Ms Krasovitsky said.

"We should be making sure people understand the channels through which they can speak up when they experience age-based discrimination. And we should encourage organisations to develop and implement age inclusive approaches. We also know that multigenerational workforces are good for business and raise productivity.

"There's no silver bullet for ending ageism, but we need to start tackling this problem systemically now. It's a vital means of boosting economic growth in the years ahead, given the IGR’s projections."

Contact: Anil Lambert 0416 426 722 / [email protected]

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