Advocacy group COTA Australia is calling on the Federal Government to take the lead in combating the pervasive issue of ageism, with the aim of enhancing the quality of life for older Australians.
The call comes in the wake of Ageism Awareness Day on Saturday, October 7 which aims to highlight the widespread incidence of ageism and its impact.
The day serves as a stark reminder that ageism significantly affects the lives of numerous Australians, particularly in areas such as elder care, healthcare access, employment opportunities, and plays a significant role in the occurrence of elder abuse.
A recent EveryAGE Counts survey of 1000 people aged over 50 explored attitudes towards ageism and people’s experience with it.
The findings of the survey revealed that:
With alarming figures such as these, COTA Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow is calling on the Federal Government to take immediate action to address ageism head-on, including the development of a government strategy on ageing that includes strategies and policies to tackle ageism and age discrimination.
“There are some really positive, practical steps that our Federal Government could take today to push things in the right direction when it comes to addressing ageism,” Sparrow said.
“Reducing ageism in public policy, workplaces and in the community will unlock the experience and talent of older people to the benefit of everyone.”
Sparrow emphasised the need to tackle ageism in the workplace, pointing out it’s a clear and crucial area that demands immediate attention.
“The Federal Government’s recent employment whitepaper recognised the impact of ageism on the workforce and the economy broadly. There’s a real opportunity off the back of that to implement some practical programs to reduce ageism in the workplace,” Sparrow said.
“COTA’s State of the Older Nation survey found that 35% of older Australians have experienced some form of age-related discrimination since turning 50 and around a quarter say they’ve experienced employment-related discrimination.
“We know that one in three recruiters are open about their hesitancy in hiring an older person. The problem is clear, the action we need to take is clear, and the benefits for every generation of taking action are also clear.
“We need to improve our employment system for older people to create an age diverse workforce with all the benefits that come from that. ”
Sparrow added that “older Australians are a valuable resource” and that by ignoring ageism “we’re robbing future Australians of all the benefits that come from the intergenerational exchange and understanding in our broader communities”.
“We need action and Ageism Awareness Day is the perfect time to kick start that,” Sparrow said.