Date: 
Monday 21 November 2011

people from all different backgrounds

 

Age discrimination complaints are increasing

Since she commenced her term in August this year, Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, has noticed an increase in complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission in relation to age discrimination.

“Employment is a particular area where age discrimination has very damaging consequences,” Commissioner Ryan said, “whether it be applying negative stereotypes and assumptions to exclude older people at the recruitment phase, or excluding older people from training and promotional opportunities, for the same reasons, once they are in employment.”

This year, the Commission has experienced an increase of 65 per cent in inquiries from older people about age discrimination issues and an increase of 44 per cent in actual complaints.

Commissioner Ryan said increases of this size were particularly significant because people are often reticent to take the step of lodging a formal complaint.

"A lot of people simply don't want to make a fuss,” she said. “There is the attitude that you can always get another job, but that's not necessarily the case for older workers."

Ms Ryan said that, in any area of complaint – be it disability, race, sex or age discrimination - the Commission’s dealings and research points to the fact that the number of complaints actually lodged is just the tip of the iceberg.

“One of the major problems with age discrimination is that it is largely accepted in our society – so much so, that we often don’t even realise we are being discriminatory,” Commissioner Ryan said. “Even worse, many older people internalise it, believing it is right, therefore self-selecting themselves out of opportunities before they happen.”

She said the increase in age discrimination complaints was also reflected in the number of complaints received by the Fair Work Ombudsman.