9 July 2008

HREOC: Mature Workers Mean Business

Federal Commissioner responsible for Age Discrimination Elizabeth Broderick launched a new community education campaign today aimed at busting the myths and stereotypes about mature age workers.

Targeted specifically at employers, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) campaign ‘Mature workers mean business’ will use a range of print advertisements and web-based material to highlight the benefits of mature age workers and to address discrimination in this area.

Commissioner Broderick said many older participants in her recent national ‘Listening Tour’ raised age discrimination as a barrier to full and equal participation in the workplace and many other aspects of life.

“Some people told me that ageist assumptions and attitudes heavily impacted on their ability to find meaningful work, including misconceptions about being able adapt to change or wanting work at senior levels,” said Ms Broderick. “Others recounted the barriers they faced in other areas of life, such as accessing public spaces or being awarded driver’s licences.”

Age discrimination is a real issue for Australians, particularly mature age workers. In 2006/07 HREOC received 106 complaints under the Age Discrimination Act (2004):

  • 66% of these complaints were made by people over 45;
  • 78% of these complaints related to employment;
  • 19% of complaints related to the provision of goods, services and facilities.

“As we live and work for longer, it is crucial that older Australians of all ages are able to fully participate in society. There is also a strong business imperative for employers to attract and retain mature age workers,” Commissioner Broderick said.

“The issue of age discrimination is perhaps one of the most significant social policy issues facing current and future generations and will be a very important aspect of my work during my five-year term as Commissioner.”

The new website resources provide a number of case studies and information for employers on the benefits of attracting and retaining mature age workers. They are available at: www.humanrights.gov.au/matureworkers/

HREOC has also produced a suite of products to assist employers in understanding their obligations under the Age Discrimination Act which are available at: www.humanrights.gov.au/info_for_employers/

Media contact: Patrick Flynn on 02 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597