Discrimination Standing in the Way of Older Workers
3 August 2015 at 11:30 am
The most significant barrier facing older workers in Australia is age discrimination, according to Labor’s Shadow Minister for Ageing, Shayne Neumann.
Speaking at the Community Work 2015 conference in Melbourne last week, Neumann said older Australians were being held back from the workforce not due to a lack of want.
“The data shows that older people want to work, however the Australian Human Rights Commission research into age stereotypes found negative assumptions about ageing prevail,” Neumann said.
“These negative perceptions have real, pervasive and damaging consequences.
“As one of the largest growth sectors, social and community services need to see a massive increase in services, particularly for older Australians. And that workforce is going to need to be greyer.”
Neumann said that Labor supported Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan’s concept of jobs checkpoints.
He said jobs checkpoints would operate out of TAFE Colleges and provide support and assistance for people who need to look at their employment options.
“It is one thing to get older people into work, but we need to address two of the biggest barriers to mature age employment,” he said.
“The first is the absence of adequate workers compensation provision and income protection to cover older workers.
“I am pleased that this issue is the subject of a recent media focus and public debate.
“However, the most significant barrier to employment is age discrimination.
“Rather than punishing older people, [we need to look] creatively at how we can maximise the opportunities presented by the longevity revolution.
“With more people turning retirement age than working age, as a nation we have to address housing and public transport, work and productivity, taxation and revenue streams, age discrimination and much more.”
Neumann also used his speech to defend the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and said that the social sector was still “misunderstood, undervalued and often dismissed”.
“While Tony Abbott’s Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison has not been as zealous as his predecessor Kevin Andrews has in trying to remove the ACNC, the fact is that Bill remains on the Notice Paper,” he said.
“Labor continues to stand with the sector to support the ACNC, which is critical to a well-functioning not-for-profit sector.
“We recognise the vital work you perform. That is not the case with all sides of politics.
“I believe this sector is misunderstood, undervalued and often dismissed. Essentially it is a perception issue.
“You provide services as opposed to products. While services industries are the fastest growing sectors, I think there is a resistance to understanding how we trade and maximise services.
“Unlike a piece of coal you cannot weigh it, measure it or hold it in your hand.”