Outgoing Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan delivers her final major address at the National Press Club in Canberra.
About 120 people gathered at the Club to hear Susan's speech, The Ageing Revolution is Not Over, three weeks before the Commissioner steps down from the role which she's held for 5 years.
Below is an excerpt from her address.
Last time I spoke here, I called my address “the longevity revolution”, and asked, “crisis or opportunity?”.
I intended that question as a challenge but it seems my challenge has not been met. We are as a community, still floundering on the crisis side of the binary. Our approach is still steeped in the language of “burden” and “deficits”. We are still failing to realise the opportunities that longevity can create for us.
Perhaps I was not catastrophic enough in my warnings…not inspirational enough in my ideas…because that was back in 2014, and now two years later, not enough has happened.
As today will be my last chance to address the NPC in this role, I won’t hold back…the crisis has not yet been averted, the opportunities of the ageing revolution still elude us.
Why do I say this?
Because against powerful and persistent economic and workforce data demonstrating great potential gains from increasing workforce participation of older people, and despite growing evidence of the willingness and capacity of Australians to lead longer working lives, we proceed too slowly to dismantle the barriers.
At the same time, we continue to overlook the capacity and desire of people with disability to make economic contributions. This is our loss, and, more importantly theirs.