Working Australians

An important goal of the Age Discrimination Act is to respond to the needs of Australia’s ageing population. The ADA aims to achieve attitudinal change by raising awareness that people of all ages have the same fundamental rights and by removing barriers to participation in many areas of public life, including employment.

In May 2005 the Australian Human Rights Commission hosted “Of Working age”, a seminar on age discrimination in the workplace. The aim of the seminar was to consider whether, after almost a year of operaion, the ADA was beginning to meet its objectives, how business was responding to the legislation and what role the ADA could play in the future of Australia’s ageing workforce.

Following is a selection of available speeches and presentations from the seminar.

Meeting the Challenges One Year On - Diane McEwan, Assistant Secretary, Mature Age & Youth Policy Branch, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
The Age Discrimination Act is beginning to make an impact in the business community, however there is still a long way to go in changing attitudes. Ms McEwan outlined the Commonwealth's activities aimed at reducing the incidence of age discrimination in the workplace, both as a policy maker and an employer.

Discrimination against the older worker - Psychology and economics - Rob Ranzijn, University of South Australia
Age discrimination in employment is based on stereotypes which may or may not be erroneous. Three important myths about older workers concern their trainability, attitude to change, and anticipated productivity. Employers discriminate on the basis of implicit cost/benefit analyses whose assumptions need to be questioned. Organisations must address issues of discrimination to ensure their economic survival.

Barriers to employment for marginalised mature age workers - Chris Kossen, University of Southern Queensland
Widespread views that older workers have reduced capacity for productivity in the workplace, rather than reliable and favourable data on their productivity have been the driving force behind decades of disproportionate retrenchment of mature age workers. This address outlined major developments relating to barriers to employment for marginalized mature age workers and some of the personal challenges faced by mature age workers participating in PhD research in a regional Australian city.