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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Assumptions about attitudes and values of older people challenged by new research

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Older people in NSW support a number of issues that have long been contentious in public discussion, according to new research released by COTA NSW.

COTA NSW’s report, What Older People think…, explores the attitudes and values of people aged 50 and older in NSW on a range of topics that are of concern to the Australian people both now and into the future.

“COTA NSW wanted to obtain some concrete information about the views of older people, to see how well they compared with the stereotypes we see in politics and the media,” CEO Meagan Lawson said.

“The results back up what COTA NSW already knows – that older people are not a homogenous group and hold a range of views and attitudes.”

The report is based on a survey of 6390 older Australians aged 50+ in New South Wales, plus eight focus groups exploring the issues in greater depth. 

The issues looked at include climate change, Indigenous recognition, sources of news and portrayal of older people in the media.

The research found a majority support action on climate change, including mitigation and adaptation measures, the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian constitution and the contribution that culturally diverse communities have made to our community.

Most older people no longer source their news from print newspapers, however, a significant majority are concerned that it is getting harder to access information and services without using the internet, and many find it difficult to keep up with the pace of technological change.

The research also looked at intergenerational conflict, finding that most respondents did not see it as an issue.

About half thought that things were worse for young people today, with housing affordability and HECS debts cited as the main concerns, while others thought the greater opportunities for women meant that things were better now.

The results of the research provide important insights for decision makers and the broader populace to be cognisant of the diversity of older people’s experiences, socio economic background and stage of life, to ensure that all older people are heard and that decisions are not made on the basis of inaccurate stereotypes.

To read the full report, click here.

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