Discrimination against older people rife in Australian workplaces, national survey revealing more than 25% of people over 50 experienced age bias over past 2 years.

The survey, conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and released on Thursday, is the first to examine age discrimination on a national level. It shows that about a third of people who experienced age discrimination gave up looking for work as a result. Almost half began to think about retirement or accessing their superannuation.
Speaking of her concerns about the results, Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan said: “The high prevalence of age discrimination in the workplace has obvious and lasting impacts on the health and personal financial security of those trying to get or keep jobs”.

The survey comes after Ms Ryan launched a national inquiry into workplace discrimination against older workers and people with disability last week.  susan ryan

At the time, she said employment rates for both groups were “unacceptably low”, noting that there was a “deep cultural prejudice” against older people.

Older Australians make up about a quarter of the population, but only 16 per cent of the workforce.

“We’ve had this demographic revolution. We’re living a generation longer than our forbears did and yet the workplace environment hasn’t changed,” Ms Ryan said. Read Judith Ireland story

The survey found the most common types of age discrimination were:

  • Limited opportunities for employment, participation or training (52 per cent)
  • Perception that older workers had outdated skills or were slow to learn (44 per cent)
  • Jokes or derogatory comments from managers (42 per cent)

Experiencing age discrimination had a range of impacts on older workers, such as causing stress or limiting self-esteem (60 per cent) and negative effect on family, career or finances (49 per cent), according to the survey.

Just 5 per cent of those who experienced age discrimination discussed the issue with an external body while only 14 per cent raised it within their organisation, the research found.


Posted in Discrimination, managing ageing workforce

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