Release type: Media Release


Breaking down barriers to employment for older workers


The Hon Kate Ellis MP
Minister for Child Care
Minister for Employment Participation

Age discrimination, physical illness, injury and disability are key barriers preventing older Australians remaining in or re-entering the workforce, according to a report released by Minister for Employment Participation, Kate Ellis.

The Minister today released the interim report of the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation, entitled Ageing and the Barriers to Labour Force Participation in Australia. The report identifies 14 barriers faced by mature age people including discrimination, physical illness, injury and disability.

Speaking at the Older Workers and Work Ability Conference in Melbourne, Ms Ellis said the Australian Government was committed to ensuring mature age Australians who want to work have opportunities to do so.

“The Australian Government recognises that older Australians, with their skills built over a lifetime, make a massive contribution to our economy and our community,” Ms Ellis said.

“We want to clear the way for older Australians to be able to stay in the workforce if they want to and this means tackling issues such as age discrimination or looking at how workplaces, equipment and jobs can be modified to better suit older Australians.

“The Forum’s interim report is another tool in helping us ensure older Australians can be active in the workforce for longer.”

The final report and recommendations of the Forum will be handed to Government in mid 2012 and would include lessons learned from the Corporate Champions’ Project.

Corporate Champions are employers who have undertaken to examine how they can make their organisations better suited to mature aged workers. The Corporate Champion employers are: IBM, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, AECOM, PWB Anchor, FMP Group, Lumo Energy, Vic Roads, Austin Health, Anglicare NSW, Ballarat Health, Kell and Rigby, and Teys Lawyers.

“The efforts of these employers to make their own operations more suited to mature aged workers will provide valuable lessons for other Australian employers who want to do the same,” Ms Ellis said.

Ms Ellis also announced the first national survey examining the barriers faced by older Australians wanting to work.

“In developing our survey the Australian Government has considered the employment barriers identified in the Forum’s interim report and also sought the expert advice of the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre.

“The results of the survey will be used by the Australian Government to develop policies and partner with industry to help older Australians stay in the workforce.”

A practical step the Government has already taken to help older Australians continue working is to remove the age limit for superannuation guarantee contributions. This means that from 1 July 2013, 18 000 working Australians aged 75 years and over will be able to benefit from superannuation.

The Consultative Forum, chaired by Everald Compton AM, includes representatives of seniors’ groups, unions, employers and industry groups, training and employment services experts. The new Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan AO, is also a member of the Forum.

The Forum’s interim report is available at