When the real age of age discrimination kicks in 94



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This story will be very familiar to many people.

If you haven’t experienced ageism yet, I guess that you are not old enough or too young. I remember in my youth being told that I was too young for a particular position. It only ever happened once, but now that I’m over 50, ageism happens all the time.

Of course, no one ever tells me that I’m too old for a job, they use other words like, “cultural fit”, which is a euphemism for being seen as too old to fit into the demographic of the company. No one ever has the guts to come out and say “you are too old”. And they won’t ever, because it’s against the law.

You know when you’ve reached that time where people are denying you work based on your age. It’s when you are applying for positions you’ve been doing your whole life, and now you’re not getting a reply, let alone an interview.

That age is 50. This is when the age of ageism really kicks in.

Of course, it’s a truly bizarre situation, when you have worked for so many years, built up so many skills, built up your network and increased your ability to do your job quicker and better and you can achieve more during the working day, and people want to knock you back because of your age.

It is inexplicable that an employer wouldn’t be jumping at someone with your skills, understanding and knowledge because of your age. But the majority of them do it.

Even if you don’t put your birthday on your resume, it’s pretty obvious from the positions that you’ve been working in and how your resume is written, that you are of a “particular age”.

Australia has an Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, but their department doesn’t seem to do much, because ageism is rife in so many companies in Australia. Yes, everyone is going to tell you that there is some other reason why you didn’t get an interview or a reply, but as you get older you get wiser, and you know what people are and aren’t telling you.

Unemployment among older Australians has been described as a “national disaster”. Because people over 50 are being knocked back from jobs because of their age, more and more of us are turning to unemployment benefits, new figures show.

Even though there are plans and payments from governments to encourage companies to employ older people, obviously the figures tell us that these strategies are not effective.

There is no way to stop companies, or anyone for that matter from being ageist. So if you’re in my situation, you have to do what I’m doing: go out and get retrained. But that still won’t solve the ageism problem. You have to start your own business. Maybe if you get good and big enough, you can then start employing people, of the right age of course. Reverse discrimination, wouldn’t that be nice!


Have you experienced discrimination at job interviews because of your age? Tell us below.

Rob Kennedy

Rob enjoys being a part of the book and publishing industry, arts industries and cultural institutions. He has articles in the Sydney Morning Herald, Cordite, Culture Wars and many other publications. Rob is also a composer and poet who manages the poetry group DiVerse.

  1. There is no doubt in my mind that ageism is very real and exists in Australia today. I don’t know what the answer is unless you can somehow educate the whole Nation. The trouble is there is not enough employment out there to have everyone in a job, so employers can cherry pick who they want and they employ young people. I wish anyone in their 50’s and 60’s all the best if they are job hunting

  2. Ageism happens even once you have a job. Promotion opportunities are given to younger workmates and it is common to be overlooked regularly regardless of how conscientious or talented someone over 50 is. If you happen to be female it is even harder and yes I have experienced this myself.

  3. I am in my 60’s and have not had any problem with getting a job, just keep a positive outlook on life and super friendly.

    1 REPLY
    • Hello Gay, wish it was as easy as your experience. Try living in a regional area with virtually NO employment vacancies and watch what happens when (if a miracle happens and you get an interview) they find out you are 60 or over. Think the person who wrote that there aren’t enough jobs for everyone and employers can cherry pick is correct.
      Why does this Government insist that so many welfare recipients are “bludgers” rorting the system. How can you find a job if it doesn’t exist? People in this town try so hard and follow all the rules, cold calling, turning up to Job Providers and still in two years of even increasing education and business education there are no interviews.
      There are no jobs, and the people who do have work are clinging on for all they are worth, and no wonder!

  4. There are not enough jobs, some will never be employed be it young or old unless they do something major like a huge infrastructure project. It is sad but that seems to be the reality of Australia today

  5. older people are considered not worth employing its a shame really as they have years of experience they are reliable & need a job I’m seeing in young people lack of respect for customers & all they do is complain how hard it is. People i find are to fussy about what job they want & so are employers just be grateful you get a job !!

  6. At 63 l applied for a position at a new Bunnings store. Over 1000 applied for one of the 70 positions. I was one of the fortunate to make it through. That was 3 years ago and l am still working for this incredible company. I was not the oldest. A 70 year old builder became the man who ran the DIY classes. This company does what it says, values workers of all ages. Thank you Bunnings.

    4 REPLY
    • I won’t complain about my husband spending so much time at the ‘toy shop’ any more.

    • Diane, Know an 82 year old man they employed at the Bankstown Airport store and placed him in the plumbing section because he had the experience. They are also very good hiring young staff. My grandson’s friend got a part time job after school and weekends. They seem to give everyone a fair go. Congrats on the job!

    • Bunnings are ok most stores ,but my son who,very expirenced at his field a wealth of knowlege in the paint area mid 30ths and gay,found out .They have some very biggeted discrimited people working in their senior office staff.

  7. I have experienced it but also have found the opposite. I feel so very fortunate that at over 70 I work part time in the corporate world and find I am absolutely valued for my wisdom and experience. This has only happened since I stopped viewing myself as ‘too old’.

  8. In the mid sixties and before it was the done thing for a female NOT to stay in employment once married. We had to finish employment so that younger females might be employed. In latter years a person would ask what I did for work. Raising three children and “Jack of all trades “, school committees, Charity stuff, etc but that was below their thinking. I would get a snub because I did not have a ” job “.
    And guess what…….that hurt.
    I have written a couple of books, in relation to family. Put together early history and donated same to relevant Societies. Started the snail mail way, but am competent with a computer, have computer embroidery machines. Never been bored. Love my sport. Started playing golf in latter years, and now also play lawn bowls which I started at 71. All my sewing stuff is now for Charity.

    1 REPLY

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