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Older Australians are an under-used resource

11 Feb 2016

Harness all of Australia’s population resources – they are there for those smart enough to grasp them

Harness all of Australia’s population resources – they are there for those smart enough to grasp them

We are quick to criticize pre-election debates and policy speeches, to analyze the speech-making and insinuations, yet when it comes to discussions on Australia’s future we’re unthinkingly accepting of the “burden of an ageing population”.

Could there be a more offensive phrase to older Australians who are anything but lazy, useless and dead-weights in their communities? What an insult to people who’ve spent the bulk of their lives slogging it out, raising families and paying taxes.

It’s true our population is ageing. By 2030 one in five Australians will be aged over 60. But why present this as a heavy load, a misfortune that causes worry, hardship or distress. Why not embrace it and make it work for us?

So let’s tackle the population part with an open mind, not an ageist bias. It’s not as if Australia has such a glut of experience and knowledge that it can afford not to choose workers from the greater body of seniors with so much to offer.

Governments genuinely need to deal with age discrimination with outcomes and programs of a long term focus, not ‘carrot enticing’ work programs that are ineffective and end up only being a short term ‘Band-Aid’ solution at best.

The value of work is more than monetary. Think of volunteers who are generous with their time and talents. They bring light and life to many incredible charitable and community endeavours. Most are older Australians with plenty left to give.

So instead of deriding older Australians as a collective burden, we should see in them as an under-utilized resource. Australians are living an average of 25 years longer.

We need to stop talking about the silver tsunami and appreciate that this is the wealthiest legion of older people in the history of this country. Opportunities to harness all of Australia’s population resources are there for those smart and determined enough to grasp them.

“The burden of an ageing population?” Wash your mouth out.

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