Does Australia respect its older citizens? Survey says no

Jun 21, 2021
A new survey has revealed most of us think we're doing a bad job of looking after our seniors. Source: Getty

A new survey has revealed that an overwhelming majority of Australians believe that we are doing a bad job taking care of our older citizens, while even more of us say we never want to end up living in a nursing home.

Currently, over 200,000 Australians live in residential aged care, and according to statistics from the ABC’s Australia Talks survey, the large majority of us don’t want to join them.

The survey, which has collected responses from over 60,000 people, found that there’s an overwhelming belief that our country doesn’t have enough respect for older Australians.

The survey asked questions on a range of topics including superannuation, retirement and aged care and posed the question as to whether or not respondents thought Australia did a good job or a bad job of taking care of its ageing citizens. Sadly, only a quarter of respondents said our country looked after older Australians properly, while 65 per cent said we did a “bad job”.

Interestingly, the survey showed people were more likely to think Australia did a bad job of looking after the elderly if their political beliefs were more left-leaning. According to the data 74 per cent of Labor voters and 74 per cent of Green voters said Australia did a bad job, while only 54 per cent of Liberal/National voters and 56 per cent of One Nation voters said the same.

With the above beliefs, it makes sense that well over half of us (76 per cent) said we didn’t ever want to live in a nursing home, while only 12 per cent said they would.

When it comes to retirement it would seem the majority of Australians have some real concerns. Asked if they thought they would be able to afford to retire comfortably, only just over half of us agreed, while 48 per cent said they weren’t confident they’d be able to retire comfortably. Men (52 per cent) were more confident in their retirement prospects than women (48 per cent).

Regardless of our own personal circumstances, the overwhelming majority agreed the ability to retire comfortably is an issue for Australians in general with 92 per cent saying it was a problem across the country.

Ralph Hampson, associate professor at the University of Melbourne, told the ABC that people should be wary of listening to figures that speculate how much people need to retire, and should instead look at their own circumstance and how they wanted to spend those retirement years.

“I think what’s really important here is when we think about superannuation, we need to think about what we want to do in retirement,” he said. “So there are often figures thrown around like ‘you need a million dollars invested in super to have a good retirement’, but it really does depend on what you want to do in that retirement.

“I think planning for it is particularly important and often people don’t plan for old age. I think we have an avoidance of planning for this period of life because for many of us it generates some fear and anxiety as the report shows, that most people don’t want to go to a nursing home.”

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Do you think we respect our older Australians, or does something need to change?

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