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Recently I was lucky enough to spend some of my time chatting with my niece. She is the Australian Director for EROC (End Rape On Campus). EROC originated in the United States when it was found that so many young women were being assaulted on campus. When investigated, the same thing was happening here in Australia.

Anyway, my niece is 30-something. She is a part of Generation Y and we as so called Baby Boomers are Generation X. Worlds apart in a lot of things it seems.

Lately I have been hearing how the Baby Boomers are responsible for the troubles Gen Y have, or at least to some extent. Baby Boomers had it easy or want and expect too much from the government etc. etc. You’ve all heard it. Of course I don’t think this is the case and neither does my niece.

We talked about sexual assault of the young people on campus. We talked about domestic violence and we talked about employment. I asked Sharna (my niece) if she thought that we as over-60s were any more responsible for unemployment or the high rate of sexual assault in this country. I asked her if she, like so many others, believed that Generation Y had it harder than we did. She answered with a resounding ‘no’.

Sharna believes there is so much the younger generation can learn from over-60s. She believes all the issues we talked about have always been there. She believes the older generation today are more willing to talk about it, to expose injustices and to fight for our right, their right to be treated fairly and justly in this country.

Sharna gave an example of the way Australians treat their over-60s as opposed to a third world country. Having spent some time in Timor, she says the average age in Timor is 24. Most of their older generation have been killed off. The young population in Timor revere the elderly who are left in their country. The respect and understanding of the elderly is second to none, she says. Why is it so different in Australia?

Sharna agrees that our government hinders the progress of young and old understanding each other. It is like “the middle class families are what the government focus on and the pensioner and the out of work younger generation are pushed aside,” she says.

Of course we as the pensioner, know we are being pushed aside. Do we realise we are not the only ones?

Asked what we can do about it, Sharna is already working with EROC to show younger women that older women have the same problems with rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. She believes we need to stand together on this and that the young have a lot to learn from the over-60s on many subjects. She believes younger people will eventually realise we a a valuable source of knowledge to them.

I believe the over-60s also can learn from the young. Not every out of work Gen Y is looking for handouts. Not every Gen Y thinks over-60s are useless or causing their problems.

Sharna and I both agree that to fix the problem of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence will take a very long time, but it will take a lot less time if we don’t let the government divide us.

We have to remember we are one. As the song says, “We are one, but we are many”. We need to approach the problems we have head on, together, no matter what the problem is. We need to tell the government to lift its game. It needs to focus this country, on our problems and our triumphs, not on how much money they can have or how they can pit us against one another.

We need our laws changed, our thinking changed and our loyalty to be to each other.

I am proud of my niece and the work she is doing. I am proud of the young people of this country who want to stand up and be counted and I am proud of us in the over 60 age group who are willing to speak up and help them with the fight.

What do you think about what Fran has to say? Is there something you are prepared to stand up, speak out or fight for?

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Fran Spears

Born in 1953. Came to Hobart from the north west coast of Tassie to be closer to my son as I have mild chronic bronchitis. Mild and chronic in same sentence – even that makes me laugh. Have just completed and passed my diploma in Public Relations. Love to write and have lead a reasonably interesting life. My motto: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

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