Australia’s campaign to end ageism, EveryAGE Counts, is calling for urgent change in the wake of new research that has found that older Australians are massively overrepresented in Australia’s long-term unemployment crisis.
A new report published today by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has found Government policies have shifted older workers onto unemployment payments, especially those over 65 who previously received the age pension.
Job opportunities opening up post lockdown are mostly being filled by young people, leaving 72,000 people aged 55 years and over at the end of the queue.
Women are particularly affected, with 55 per cent of those who have been on unemployment payments for more than five years being older women.
EveryAGE Counts campaign director, Marlene Krasovitsky, said it was vital to recognise the role ageism was playing in the crisis.
“It is ageism that makes us fail to recognise this as a national crisis,” she said.
“Most older Australians are living longer, healthier lives and they want, or need, to work longer.
“So what’s holding them back? Ageism.
“There’s a very real prejudice that tells us that older people really are just unemployable, they’ve had their turn, and should just wait for the pension.
Krasovitsky said that if we want to maintain funding for essential services and infrastructure we need to lift the labour force participation rates of older people who want or need to work.
“That means we have to address ageism at its root – the stereotypes, assumptions, and discrimination that currently lock older people out of work,” she said.
“We can’t keep turning a blind eye to this crisis, we need to raise awareness and to increase incentives for employers to hire older people.
“We need a sustained public and workplace education campaign to challenge the myths and negative attitudes and assumptions about older people in the workforce.
“We should be making sure people understand the channels through which they can speak up when they experience age-based discrimination.
“And we should encourage organisations to develop and implement age inclusive approaches.
“We also know that multigenerational workforces are good for business and raise productivity.”
A recent nationwide poll, conducted by The RedBridge Group and commissioned by EveryAGE Counts, to help understand the gap between the widespread prevalence of ageism in Australian society, found nearly half of all Australians over-50 experienced ageism in the past year, but only one in five of them took any action in response.
“The only way we can end it is to bring it out of the shadows,” Krasovitsky said.