“Our most skilled and gifted people are in their 60s and 70s”, so should we have a new ‘optional lifestyle age’? 88



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Source: Ken Wyatt MP website

Leaving work can be tough for many of us who love our jobs and get tremendous satisfaction from it. Once the farewell party is over at work the days can loom large, with hobbies and other forms of pastime only partially filling the void.

Well, it seems those of us who would like to stay on longer now have a friend in a high place who believes it should be up to the individual.

New Assistant Health Minister Ken Wyatt believes retirement should be optional and older Australians with valuable skills and knowledge should be encouraged to stay in the workforce.

And he’s in the right seat to do something about it.

Mr Wyatt was sworn in yesterday as the country’s first indigenous member of the Federal Government executive.

Straight away Mr Wyatt said he believed engaging older Australians in community activities and the workforce was integral to keeping them healthy.

“Looking at pathways of keeping them engaged in the workforce will ease some of that burden, and I think the elements around Australia’s own treatment of its ageing population will be different once we acknowledge that some of our most skilled and gifted people are in their 60s and 70s,” he told The Australian.

“It seems strange — in Aboriginal society we have elders, that we revere their knowledge, their skills are paramount in shaping some of the direction that we take … and yet in Australian society we are prepared to let that same knowledge of eldership dissipate instead of harnessing it and using it.

“The intellect that anybody has is their greatest capital. Our bodies do weary, they do become frail, but it doesn’t stop our mind from being creative and providing the type of thinking that is needed.”

Mr Wyatt added baby boomers could be encouraged to stay in the workforce by having an “opt-in” retirement system.

“Allow people to have options. I’d prefer it not to be called retirement age, to be quite frank. I think it should be an optional lifestyle age.”

A former health bureaucrat, Mr Wyatt has been given the task of helping Health and Aged Care Minister Sussan Ley on aged care and service delivery in the health portfolio.

Aged care was added to Ms Ley’s responsibilities yesterday following complaints from lobby groups and Labor that aged care had been forgotten in a cabinet reshuffle.


Should we be allowed to retire when we want and not just forced to because we have reached a certain age? Is our new minister on the right track with his suggestion of “an optional lifestyle age”? Tell us what you think.


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. There are many volunteer opportunities for skilled and gifted people to continue to contribute to society. Hundreds of organisations both in Australia and overseas need the wealth and knowledge of our elders and the elders gain wonderful fulfill

    1 REPLY
  2. Great sentiment but it doesn’t get through to employer’s just another throw away line to make himself feel like he cares

  3. My husband is still a very active 71, keen mind, with good business acumen and physically able to work. However, he doesn’t need to work and I think there are younger men and women able to and needful of work.

  4. There are so many young people out of work, perhaps those of retirement age, can continue as a volunteer while teaching work skills to young people. It does concern me if people do not retire, they are keeping a job from a much younger unemployed. Also if it becomes optional, how long will it be before it becomes government policy that there will be an older age of retirement. Not all positions such as hard manual work are positions that people really find physically difficult as they reach the age of retirement.

    8 REPLY
    • I dont agree as my wife was made redundant at 60, who is going to give her a job ? We cant even get assistance from centrlink , but if we were so called refuges things would be different.

    • I dont agree either… Everyone is entilted to work whether old or young.. As I reach the age of retirement and see my friends also in that situation i grimace. We older shouldnt be made to leave jobs so younger people can take that postition to some the job is all they have and they give it 110 % more than younger people do. No maternaty leave or sick kids etc… who would I employ I know who.

    • I so agree with this idea, thank you for bringing it up. It is like the old original idea of apprenticeship. Passing on skills to the young.

    • There is so much the oldies can teach the over educated youngsters,, but you can’t impart knowledge into those who already know it all. Like the clowns who use water based inks on security documents, and laser printers to print cheques

    • I dont agree with the volunteer bit. We are not forced to retire at 65. We work we should be paid for it. The new breed of employees only stay in jobs 6 to 12 months then move on to another unlike the retirees who held their positions year in year out. Our volunteered time would be wasted.

    • The young people out of work are quite often people who don’t want to work just want the money older people earn there money

  5. I retired from nursing at 60, with work induced health problems.

    3 REPLY
    • Diana back in the early days of nursing their was much more hands on with heavy lifting and etc but I think than we cared more towards out patients cheers.

    • sadly the amount of compulsory paperwork has grown out of reality – State govt., federal govt., and the management of the facility, and it’s all different. No-one likes paperwork

  6. Here we go….work till you drop on the job….how about getting the young one to earn. At least make them earn a wage for the drugs so ma y are taking and robbing the aged for. Oh no that would be unjust.older people dont sit on the couch all day doing nothing….

  7. If I am still capable of doing my job at retirement age……then why should I have to retire. It’s my life

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