Gov responds to EPSA report

Treasurer Wayne Swan and Minister Mark Butler have announced a comprehensive package of initiatives to tackle age discrimination in the workplace and encourage older Australians to keep contributing to the Australian economy.

Above: Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler

By Yasmin Noone

Employers who recruit and retain a mature age jobseeker for more than three months will receive a $1000 bonus, as part of a new $10 million Commonwealth incentive to tackle age discrimination in the workplace.

The new money, announced in a joint press release from Treasurer Wayne Swan and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler yesterday, comes as part of a federal government’s response to the final report of the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians (EPSA).

The government will also provide more than $2 million  to the Age Discrimination Commissioner, over a four year time frame, for a media roundtable and communication strategy which will address age discrimination, age stereotyping and ageism.

The package also includes $15.6 million to extend the Corporate Champions program to provide support to employers who wish to promote mature aged employment at their workplace; $4.8 million to promote lifelong learning by expanding education opportunities by adult and community education providers and community organisations to older Australians; and $3.9 million to extend the Career Advice service by two years to ensure mature age people have access to free, professional career advice.

“The government commissioned the EPSA report because we understand that the ageing of our population brings great opportunities for our country and our economy if we better harness the skills and experience of older Australians,” the two politicians Treasurer Wayne Swan and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, said.

“The EPSA report – also entitled “Turning Grey into Gold” – found that as a community we need to provide greater choices to older Australians as to how they spend their golden years, and better opportunities to stay engaged with the workforce and the broader community.”

An expanded Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing will be established on an ongoing basis and play a key role in helping to drive the government’s ageing agenda.

Commonwealth legislation to identify age barriers that prevent continued participation in the workforce for people aged 45 years and over will be reviewed. The government will also consolidate the five anti-discrimination Acts, including the Age Discrimination Act 2004, into a single law as part of Australia’s Human Rights Framework.

The government also announced plans to change the title of the current ‘Expanding the More Help for Mature Age Workers’ initiative, which encourages industries to benefit from improving the skills of their over 50’s workforces, will also change its name to the “Investing in Experience – Skills Recognition and Training program”.

“Age discrimination and stereotyping of older people, whether deliberate or unintentional, acts as a significant barrier to senior Australians realising their potential.”

The government’s response included a review of existing laws to ensure adequate protection to volunteers from civil liability enabling retirees to continue volunteering. The ministers said the government will also work with the insurance industry to explore ways to address issues with accessing adequate travel insurance by those in their golden years wanting to travel.

Minister Butler and Treasurer Swan released the final Realising the economic potential of senior Australians report in December 2011.

The report was created by the EPSA – which includes the president of the Australian Association of Gerontology, Professor Gill Lewin and former deputy prime minister Professor Brian Howe AO –to examine how Australia can best harness the opportunities that come with a much larger and more active cohort of older people.

Director of UnitingCare Ageing, Steve Teulan, welcomed bipartisan support for the package and encouraged both political parties to continue to work together for the benefit of older Australians.

“Working in the aged care sector I regularly see the ideas, enthusiasm and dynamism which result from engaging older Australians in our community and workplaces,” Mr Teulan said.

“Employers will benefit from the knowledge and experience of older workers. We can learn much from the work ethic of older Australians, who have overcome the economic turbulence of the past with hard work, loyalty and perseverance.

“The real bonus in hiring an older employee comes long after the money has been received, from hiring a capable, dedicated and experienced older employee.”

 

Tags: aag, age-discrimination, age-discrimination-act, age-discrimination-commissioner, ageism, butler, epsa, everald-compton, jill-lewin, swan,

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