Wednesday 2 May 2012


ALRC Inquiry image

Wednesday 02 May 2012

Grey Areas ‘Age barriers’ Inquiry calls for submissions from the community

The Grey Areas: Age Barriers to Work in Commonwealth Laws Inquiry, conducted by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), is inviting individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to the questions, background material and analysis contained in its Issues Paper.

As our rapidly ageing population will see one in four Australians aged 65 years or older by 2044-45, there are significant implication for Australia’s economy. People will need to stay at work for as long as they are able and willing.

The Grey Areas Inquiry, part of the Australian Government’s response to this looming issue, is looking at legal barriers to mature age (over 45 years of age) participation in the workforce and other productive work. It is considering a range of laws, including superannuation law; family assistance, child support and social security law; employment law; insurance law; compensation laws; and any other relevant Commonwealth legislation exempt under the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth).

Its Issues Paper provides background information and analysis, raises questions and highlights the issues identified by the ALRC so far.

In turn, the community input received will help inform the development of draft recommendations for reform to be released in a Discussion Paper later in the year.

Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, who is also a part-time Commissioner for the Inquiry, said it was imperative for Australia to identify and remove the barriers to participation, whether they are in our laws, or in the legal frameworks or procedures that surround those laws, if we are to truly be a socially inclusive society.

“We want people to be able to make their own decisions about matters affecting them … and we want to ensure that the legal system supports them in their decisions,” Commissioner Ryan said. “A socially inclusive society is one in which everyone is valued and has the opportunity to participate fully, including participation in paid work where that is the person’s choice.”

Professor Rosalind Croucher, President of the ALRC, said that “there is often a complex interaction between things that are ‘barriers’ to workforce participation and things that are ‘incentives’ to leave the workforce.”

Leaving the paid workforce may also mean people are able to make a valuable contribution in other productive work—like the hugely important role of volunteers in the community.

According to the ALRC, there are six interlinking principles that should guide this reform: participation; independence; self-agency; system stability; system coherence; and fairness.

The Issues Paper will also be looking at whether there are any other principles that should inform the deliberations.

You can obtain more information and download the Issues Paper at from the ALRC website,  or contact the ALRC to order hard copies (02-8238 6333).

Submissions can be made at: Written submissions can also be posted, faxed or emailed to the ALRC at GPO Box 3708 Sydney NSW 2001.

The closing date for submissions is Thursday 14 June 2012 and the

The final Report is to be delivered by 31 March 2013.

Read the ALRC media release at