Employment Department accuses Baby Boomers of retiring early on Newstart 40



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Figures released this week by the Department of Employment show there is a gap in our society that needs to be closed.  The number of people over 50 years of age on NewStart increased in the last 12 months by 9% as unemployment for older workers rises and rises.  The Employment Department has this week controversially accused Baby Boomers of retiring on the dole early… but is that really the case?  We ask you today to share your experience.

A Current Affair ran a controversial story on the issue on Friday night that you can watch here… 



According to the A Current Affair report, comments to the Senate enquiry say some Baby Boomers prefer welfare over work.

“Given the ageing workforce and the fact that most people aged 55 have many potentially prod­uctive years ahead of them, it is no longer acceptable for 55-59-year-old jobseekers to effectively retire on Newstart while undertaking a bit of voluntary or part-time work,’’ the Employment Department has told a Senate inquiry into welfare.

Age Discrimination commissioner has come out fighting, and I agree.  I know, because it affects my family too, that getting a job over the age of 50 can be hard, even when you need it to make ends meet.  The number of mature age people in this country is rising, and rising considerably and our workplace cultures have not changed enough to ensure there will be jobs there for them.

Ms Ryan said in The Australian  that many older people applied for hundreds of jobs, yet never got an interview due to widespread age discrimination by employers.

“If you’re 55, you’ve got 10 years before you get the Age Pension, so imagine trying to spend 10 years on the tiny amount of money you get on Newstart,’’ Ms Ryan said yesterday.

“The implication that they are willing to hang around on New­start while doing a bit of volunteer work as a preferred position is completely wrong.

“People in that age group, more than young people, are desperately seeking employment — often they have mortgages and are still rearing kids.’’


The seemingly heartless comments will no doubt will rile those of you who have tried almost anything to get a job in your 50s or 60s, without success and are forced into living at or below the poverty line in Australia.

The $258-a-week Newstart allowance, is $130 a week less than the Age Pension yet expected to be enough to help those with families, mortgages and obligations who may or may not have planned to be out of work.  Unemployment is, according to the latest figures rising five times faster for Australians in their 50s than those in their 20s and there is something in the league of 50,000 long term jobless.

We invite you to comment, sharing your opinion on this challenging situation for older Australians.  Let’s contribute ideas that might help.   

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I was made redundant 4 years ago at age 60, I then went on a Carers Pension and looked after my husband was on the aged pension. In 2013 he passed away with cancer and i am now on Newstart (or a widows pension) as I am ineligible for the Aged Pension for another 12 months. Nobody is willing to employ you at 64 years of age after being out of the work for for 4 years as technology advances so quickly in the workforce today. I am over the fact that I have to account for what I have spent since my husbands passing to receive any benefit at all. This seems so ridiculous when you are the average home owner with minimal savings….what a joke.

    1 REPLY
    • And Lynn , the widows allowance is only , new start by another name . About 400 dollars a fortnight . I know because I was on it , thankfully I became eligible for a pension

  2. It is true, I have a friend who did exactly that when she could have got a job but she did not want to. She was 55 at the time and because her super was not taken into account until 65, was allowed Newstart. My friend and her husband are independently wealthy and I am/was disgusted in the loophole. I could have done the same but I do not think it is fair on the taxpayers.

    2 REPLY
    • It’s true for the one person you know – but I think if you were to do a little research you’d find that the majority don’t. I defy anyone to “retire” and live on Newstart alone.

    • Rosanne there will always be exceptions to the rule. I invite you to see my comments that I have just posted. I don’t believe that the action of your friends are in the majority

  3. Bob Carr closed our local sawmill and then retired to NZ. We, unfortunately were left with no jobs. All in our late 50’s and having lived in a rural area all our lives with homes and families here, we couldn’t just pack up and go to the city for work. I tried but it was too darn expensive down there. I came home and took out a mortgage on my home to tide me over till I was eligible for the aged pension. I didn’t qualify for Newstart as I had left the city for a rural area????? Hang on, I came home because no one wanted to hire a 60 year old and the rents were to darn high. Every story and individual is different, stop labelling people before you have the facts, it can be very hurtful.

  4. I lost my job through redundancy at 60 yrs of age. I am qualified in 3 fields but in each of those areas I either have no current experience or younger folk in their 20’s to 40’s have degrees so I don’t get selected so don’t have regular work either. I receive $209 help weekly but I assure you I don’t have enough to live on and I am careful. I don’t smoke or drink, I have given up my social activities to save petrol and fees and weekly dues so I would love an early retirement at a lower rate than regular retirement so I wasn’t slowly getting more and more into debt on my credit card. I need new glasses, I have not been to a dentist for 3 years and it is hard. I am not complaining here – just answering the question. My view is that if we are receiving a govt fund we should do some volunteer work at least. I do 12 hours approx a week on that and it helps me to keep a work ethic but also assists those I am helping as a volunteer. One is a wee boy with mild autism who gets very little govt funding.

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  5. This is a politician talking at the wishes of a buffoon of a leader who has absolutely no idea of what real working people have to do to live, those have tried to save a deposit for a home loan , but never reached it and have to rent from some real estate agent who works as we all do , to make money, but the thing is that I have tried to get a change of work, but all my last 36 inquires have never gotten a acknowledgement of my application I just put it down to my age group I will be 63 this birthday , I am know I will not have enough to retire and live well, when the GFC happened I had lost many thousands of dollars from investments but there is no one to blame . How many big bankers who defraud huge amounts of money are jailed . I have lost heart for my wife’s and mine futures

  6. Governments do not care…we as the “aging population”, are easy targets…I can’t wait for the next election.

  7. The government Curley needs to take a good look at these negative comments that are often in the media as of late, Many seniors do have difficulty finding employment because many manufacturers have closed down and sent business off shore, others because of illness and retraining are over looked, I think after our governments performances by both parties and some dodgy politicians should be looking elsewhere to place blame, Many people doing physical jobs such as builders, plumbers, nurses, careers, child care workers do have a lot of stress placed on their bodies during their day, So I feel government bodies should be more supportive, I still work full time so this is a very honest assessment on my part to the situation.

  8. I work as an aide in the workforce and I’m sixty-one, my sister is fifty-eight and a part-time teacher. We are both divorced and have brought up our kids by ourselves for the last 19years. Over the last 2 years I have had to write letters as to why I should not lose my job because of funding and this year my sister is doing the same as their numbers have dropped. A lot of schools prefer graduates because of money and are getting rid of experienced teachers which is totally unfair as you always need experience in schools to assist the young ones. My sister and I could not afford to go on New start as we both rent our homes and apart from all that we really enjoy our jobs and get a lot of satisfaction of assisting young children.

  9. Both my husband and I worked until after we turned 70 before we chose to retire. I was still being offered work.

  10. As a 61 yo male, I have no hope of ever being employed again! They say age discrimination is illegal, but like all laws, it is only so ‘if you get caught’!
    There are a lot of folks like me who want to work, but get knocked back every time we apply for an advertised position. I have applied for jobs from seek, my career, and several other job search sites, and although I have the qualifications, and experience, I don’t get invited to an interview. The ones who have replied to my application tell me they /found someone more suitable’, which means they probably found a younger person with less experience!

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