Pages tagged "featured_post"
How time flies when you’re having fun as you grow older. That can be said for both the EveryAGE Counts Campaign and me, as well as for our relationship over the past four years. Excitingly, I first heard about the Campaign before it was born, after its conception in the Benevolent Society, which publicly announced its imminent arrival on the basis of a bank of solid research that demonstrated the need for it as well as guiding the development of its key features.Read more
James Cox & Sue McGrath
A clear and compelling message was delivered by a panel of international experts and some of Australia’s leading voices on ageing and work at ‘Still on the job: the case for older workers,’ a forum hosted by the EveryAGE Counts campaign in June. If we want to change the picture for older Australians who want and need to work, but are currently excluded from employment by ageism, then broad systemic change is needed.
We heard from Mark Keese, OECD and Melissa Grober-Morrow, AARP about Australia’s performance against OECD countries, and from the Australian Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson and CEPAR researcher Rafal Chomik on the situation in Australia. A key point for their examinations of older worker participation is that although the number of older people in Australia looking for work has grown markedly over the last two decades, they are not finding work at the same rate. Compared to the rest of the world, Australia’s performance is no more than middling in keeping up with this important demographic change.
Around the world, populations are getting older. In Australia the number of older people (65+) as a proportion of the total population will grow from its current 16% to around 22% by 2050. Older people will become an increasingly crucial part of the workforce as the proportion of younger people in the population overall and in the workforce declines.
Our ‘ageing population’ is often framed as a problem, but the good news is that we’re healthier in older age than past generations. We can expect to live better for longer and we should be able to work longer if we want or need to. Indeed, access to work for older people is good for health, wealth and well-being. We also know that workforces that include and draw on the strengths of older people are more productive and profitable, and that keeping an older worker does not mean losing a younger one. Diversity, including age diversity, is good for business.
Unfortunately, many older Australians struggle to find meaningful work, or find themselves underemployed. There might be several reasons for this, but the stereotypes that older workers are past it, or worn out, or don’t have the skills just don’t hold up as legitimate causes. The biggest obstacles to work for older Australians come from negative, ageist attitudes and behaviours towards older people in workplaces and in our communities.
The forum audience shared their own experiences of ageism as their careers advanced or as they sought work as older people. Two types of experience in particular resonated: those of women who have retrained to re-enter the workforce, and those of people who have been advised to upskill and mask their age in order to find work – in each case to no avail. Humiliation, and being told that ‘you are the problem,’ is common. The experience of women also points to the potential for certain groups to be particularly vulnerable to ageism, mixed with other forms of discrimination or exclusion over a working life.
Each worker has some responsibility to prepare for their own employment, but efforts by older people are likely to be futile if workplaces are not interested or incentivised to employ them. For this, comprehensive change is needed, from government anti-discrimination and employment policy to the operation of workplaces and recruitment agencies.
Behind it all is a need to change perceptions about older people. At the moment, policies, practices and prejudices are built on the unfounded idea that older people have out-dated skills, poor health and attitude problems; and that they offer low return on investment. Over and over, research and experience demonstrates that these stereotypes are wrong. These damaging perceptions need to change and with them, the idea that an arbitrary age line is of any value in determining who is capable of and should be allowed to work.
In fact, why not take age out of the equation altogether? Age is not a reliable marker of capability. Workplace policies need to move from implicit and explicit ageist assumptions underpinning decision making to the use of capacity-based frameworks. These changes need to flow from board leadership through recruitment practices and algorithms to staff development, team building and developing age inclusive workplace cultures.
Some of these changes will be slow, but others can happen now to enable today’s older Australians to work and to set the scene for older workers and the economy of the future. There is a lot we can do! We can celebrate and learn from those companies that are leading employers of older people. We can change the automated recruitment algorithms to eliminate ageism and other biases from candidate pools. We can ensure that on the job training is available for everyone. And we can champion the strengths of intergenerational teams and multigenerational workforces.
These changes won’t happen on their own. As the forum chair Robert Tickner told us, it’s up to all of us to call for change. We need to start work now.
Digital Equity for all ages? Not while ageism rules (Part 3) Citizenship and ‘digital citizenship’– rights, participation and ageism
The 2021 UN International Day of Older Persons theme of Digital Equity for All Ages recognises the serious impacts of exclusion of many older people from the digital world, and places ageism front and centre as part of this problem. Here we take a closer look at what is at stake for older people as citizens, while ever stereotypes, discrimination and prejudice continue to contribute to our much lower levels of online involvement than other age groups.
‘Digital citizenship’ has become an increasingly important idea and practice in schools, preparing children and young people to be part of the digital world in safe, responsible, ethical, productive and creative ways. In a simple definition, “A digital citizen is a person with the skills and knowledge to effectively use digital technologies to participate in society, communicate with others and
create and consume digital content.”
Most of the focus in educating children around digital citizenship appears to be on competencies and behaviours to be effective, safe and do no harm in the digital world. These are equally crucial for others going online for the first time, or escalating their engagement, such as many older people.
An additional aspect of digital citizenship, however, crucial for all adults, is that the online world is an increasingly central environment for the exercise of general citizenship rights and obligations in the real world. Those who are excluded from the digital world will increasingly be excluded from key aspects of the three strands of citizenship: civil (such as freedom of speech, access to justice); political (such as voting and engagement with political institutions); and social (such as equal access to communications, education, health and social services). And as citizenship is fundamentally about connection to a community of people, within a political and social system, exclusion from where the citizenship action is taking place can seriously isolate and marginalise individuals, stripping them of rights and opportunities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turbo-boosted the already rapid online shift to accessing and participating in each of these forms of citizenship. Two specific examples with a heavy impact on older people illustrate this.
Firstly, the great leap forward in healthcare delivered online is a significant shift for many older people as we are large users of the healthcare system. Secondly, the huge rise in communication with family, friends and community through digital means has been life changing for many older people. For example, thousands of residents in aged care facilities (experiencing the harshest lockdowns in our country) and many more older people isolating in the community, have relied on digital communications for the first time, as the only way to see the faces of those they care about and stay informed.
These changes offered older people crucial lifelines during the pandemic but have also been a stressful challenge for many hitherto not using digital technologies, and some who did not make the shift were simply left isolated.
What should be the response to ensure that increasing digitisation does not further exclude older people from the capacity to engage in citizenship rights and obligations and be recognised as full participants in our society? As we have discussed in previous parts of this series, it will need to be a conscious, explicit, multi-pronged commitment, because older people are diverse and ad hoc actions will not be sufficient.
For a start, all those older people who remain completely offline and wish to change that situation, need the continued support of their communities and governments to make the shift (see Be Connected for the extensive network of training and support available). A change in the way public and media discourse represents older people as digitally incompetent and unable to learn will be essential to this.
In addition, the wide range of digital capability among older people needs to be acknowledged and addressed. Some older people need no assistance at all and are already completely capable online. Many others, though, are capable with digital technology for basic communications and consumer needs but flounder when faced with complex online service delivery or similar forms of participation.
Governments and essential businesses that are rapidly moving to digital-by-default delivery are yet to do enough to act on their responsibilities to make online participation for all older people (and other digitally excluded groups) viable. This can be done, for example, by
- providing user-friendly tutorials and meaningful Help functions as each new service or update is rolled out and incorporating these more broadly into community training programs for older people
- designing apps, programs and service delivery around the needs of older users, involving older people in co-design of online services where we are key users
- incorporating age friendly interface design that takes account of and responds to more common interaction patterns, needs and preferences found among older adults, to do with things like: tactile practices on devices; time taken to work through a form or information; motivation levels to engage online; concern about privacy and safety of information and a desire to know how our data will be used; simple and intuitive (to non-digital natives!) navigation structures on platforms; and Help functions that are designed and tested to actually help.
Just as importantly, governments must also continue to offer those (including many older people) who are not engaged with the digital world the option of other channels through which to exercise their citizenship.
The ABS has provided a good model of this in its efforts to ensure that all Australians are seen and heard in the snapshot of citizenry taken in the Census. Although the Australian Census is now digital-by-default, significant efforts are still made to reach and engage those people who require an alternative channel to participate. This example is especially important because the Census is a crucial public practice that ensures the visibility of older people; when a key outcome of ageism is our invisibility.
The UN theme of ‘digital equity at all ages’ offers an essential global focus on addressing the exclusion of older people from the rights and benefits increasingly only available in the online world.
On October 1st, Australia marked its very first Ageism Awareness Day, to coincide with the International Day of Older Persons.
To launch this very special occasion, the EveryAGE Counts campaign held a virtual morning tea with a range of special guest speakers including EveryAGE Counts campaign co chair Robert Tickner AO, campaign director and co chair Dr Marlene Krasovitsky, Age Discrimination Commissioner The Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO and singer/actor Monica Trapaga.
The morning tea was attended by over 400 Australians who listened to our guest speakers talk about the damaging impacts of ageism and what we all can do to help end it.
As well as speakers, Monica Trapaga treated guests to a very special performance which you can watch above.
The morning tea was held at the same time new research by EveryAGE Counts showed that nearly half of all Australians over-50 experienced ageism in the past year, but only one in five of them took any action in response,
Findings of the research include:
- 45 per cent of Australians over 50 say they have experienced ageism in the past year, and 52 per cent of all Australians say they have witnessed ageism in the past year
- 82 per cent of older Australians who experienced ageism say they did not take any action in response.
- 27 per cent said it was because it was hard to prove
- 24 per cent said it was because they didn't know how to respond
- 22 per cent said was because they were not sure if it was really ageism
- 9 per cent said they "didn't know what my options were
The following video was launched as part of the Ageism Awareness Day activities.
Our EveryAGE Counts campaign's senior policy advisor Sue McGrath features on the latest Connecting The Pieces podcast to talk about ageism in the workplace and how we can make the workplace more inclusive of older workers.
Have a listen below!
On Tuesday June 29th, EveryAGE Counts held a webinar examining some of the latest research on the value of fully including older workers in a diverse, multi-generational workforce.Read more
Marlene Krasovitsky, Co-chair and Director of the EveryAGE Counts campaign, spoke to the Law Society Journal for their article on age discrimination, which we've cross-posted below. It's a longer read than we usually post here, but well worth reading through!Read more
"[My GP] doesn’t care less [that] I have depression, heart attacks, chronic asthma, chronic arthritis and chronic spondylitis."
"I know my body pretty well. I have lived in it 72 years and this female doctor who had just met me, [told me she] knew better."
These are direct quotes from a new report produced by the Older Women's Network and Health Consumers NSW, reflecting the experiences of people who feel they are being treated differently in the health care system because of their age.Read more
What does that term ‘intersectionality’ mean and how is it relevant to a campaign on ageism?
None of us is one thing. None of us live our lives in one dimension. I don’t live my life just as a woman, or someone from a different cultural and language background, or just as an older person. I live my life as all these things…and more.Read more
On 18 March, 2021 the World Health Organisation released the first Global Report on Ageism, and it’s a distressing read. In a stark reminder of prevalence of ageism, it provides evidence that 1 in 2 people worldwide are ageist. Half of the world’s population think and feel negatively about getting older, older people and this phase of life.Read more