Release type: Speech

Date:

Corporate Champions Breakfast Seminar, Brisbane

Ministers:

The Hon Kate Ellis MP
Minister for Employment Participation
Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care

Kedron-Wavell Service Club, Chermside, Brisbane

I would like to welcome you all to the inaugural Corporate Champions Breakfast Seminar.

And especially thank all the Corporate Champions. Suncorp has representatives here today to share their experience of the important role mature age workers play in their business.

I would also like to thank all the employers attending today and acknowledge members of the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation and the Panel on Positive Ageing.

And I acknowledge National Seniors Australia—your advocacy and research through the Productive Ageing Centre has greatly contributed to getting the issues we are discussing on the national agenda.

A special mention also to Mr Everald Compton AM for your passion and work in this very important space.

I am thrilled to be launching the first of a series of Corporate Champions Breakfast Seminars with my parliamentary colleagues the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan and Member for Petrie, Yvette D’Ath.

It was only in May this year that we were in Canberra discussing how to boost the mature age workforce.

At the time, we acknowledged that an ageing population has the potential to strain Australia’s finances and economic growth.

But if we act now to remove the barriers mature age workers face when they want to keep working, then we all benefit from keeping their skills and experience.

Our Corporate Champions program is our way of helping the business community and supporting employers that demonstrate leadership in employing mature age people.

This program is an Australian first, started as a pilot program not too long ago now and we already have 23 organisations signed up.

Corporate Champions are eligible to receive a program of tailored assistance from an industry expert, valued at up to $10,000.

This includes a professional assessment of your organisation’s workforce demographics and recruitment and retention practices and help to develop an action plan to improve in any areas you identify as a priority.

Your organisation also receives one-on-one advice and support so you can achieve the goals of your action plan.

Our Corporate Champions tell us that by attracting older workers they are getting reliable, experienced workers that add much needed diversity to their business.

Many of you already employ mature age workers and you know their worth. The Corporate Champions program can help you move towards best practice in managing your mature age workforce and get the best results for your business and for your employees.

But our Corporate Champions program is just one part of a suite of programs designed to get mature age workers into jobs.

In April this year, we provided $55 million over four years to help mature age job seekers find work and to help address negative attitudes and recruitment practices toward mature age people.

This includes $10 million for a new $1,000 Jobs Bonus for employers that recruit and retain a mature age job seeker from a Job Services Australia provider. Corporate Champions will receive priority access to the new Jobs Bonus, so now there’s even more incentive to take on an experienced worker.

We have extended our Career Advice service by two years to make sure mature age people can access free, professional career advice.

And invested more than $15 million to extend the Corporate Champions pilot into a four year program.

From January next year, the new Mature Age Participation—Job Seeker Assistance program will provide a peer-based environment for mature age job seekers to develop their IT skills, training and participate in paid work trials.

As a Government we are committed to making sure mature age job seekers have the opportunity to work, because we know it is not just a benefit to a business, but to the whole economy.

It was important we understood the barriers facing mature age job seekers and workers in developing our suite of programs.

That’s why we funded the Nation Survey on the Barriers to Employment of Mature Age people – an Australian first, managed by the Productive Ageing Centre, because we know how important it is to understand this ever growing demographic.

And I’m pleased today to publically release the survey results. The Survey was taken by more than 3,000 Australians aged between 45 to 74. This included workers, job seekers and those not in the labour force. The Survey measured the extent of the barriers to employment faced by mature age people.

It found that age discrimination was a strong concern for mature age people, particularly those looking for work and ranked as medium barriers across all groups.

This was no surprise to me and my parliamentary colleagues. We often hear this message from mature age constituents who are eager to find work.

Analysis of the survey also tells us that flexibility in the workplace – particularly for care givers and for people with an injury, disability or a health condition – is essential if we are to support mature age workers.

The results of the survey reinforce the Government’s efforts to increase support for older job seekers and employees and make us more determined than ever to improve their prospects.

Along with Australia’s first comprehensive national survey I’m also pleased to announce today, the release of the final report from the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation.

Both the survey and the report help build our understanding of how older workers form an integral part of our national economy.

The Government’s programs and our relationships with business are already providing more support for older workers, but we still have more to do.

That’s why we’re here today, because it is our partnerships with business that will make all the difference to the lives of mature age job seekers and ensure we continue to invest in the wealth of knowledge and skills mature age job seekers bring to the economy.

I would like to again thank you all for coming today.

And I hope you will consider signing up to be a Corporate Champion. If you would like more information you can talk to the Corporate Champions Program Manager, Alison Seale, who is here today.

We also have copies of the Advisory Panel’s Final Report, which includes the survey results.

It’s now my pleasure to invite the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, to talk.