Give experienced workers a fair go

Posted by Susan Ryan on 19 August 2014

Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, calls on employers to take the age blinkers off and give experienced workers a fair go as part of a new positive ageing campaign titled The Power of Oldness.

Of all the complaints that the Australian Human Rights Commission receives about age discrimination, almost 60 per cent relate to employment. And these figures are an underrepresentation of overall cases. I also receive letters from older people and their families who do not wish to make a complaint, but want their stories to be heard. Their stories of repeated effort and repeated knockbacks are heartbreaking.

At a time when we are living longer and healthier lives, and when the Australian economy is crying out for skilled works, this should not be happening.

As Age Discrimination Commissioner my constant message is – give experienced workers a fair go. Take the age blinkers off and assess job applicants for what they can bring to the task.

When we waste the talents of mature workers, we not only harm them as individuals, we harm the economy, to the tune of billions of dollars lost each year.

I am encouraged that the challenge has been recognised by the Federal Government. An initiative announced in the budget shows leadership in the matter of recruiting and keeping mature workers.

On 1 July the Restart Programme commenced. This programme offers an incentive of $10,000 over two years to employers who hire a previously unemployed person over 50.

There are thousands of experienced capable older workers ready to work. All employers should look at the widest talent pool available, and appoint the best person for the job. Often, the best person will be the one with extensive, relevant work experience.

I am confident that when employers avail themselves of this incentive and take on an older person, the negative stereotypes about experience will disappear.

My message to employers is to give a 50-plus worker a go. Help restart their career – you won’t know what you’ve been missing out on until you try it.

For more information about the Restart Wage Subsidy, visit the Department of Employment’s website.

Source: Living Well Navigator

Susan Ryan is a regular contributor to Living Well Navigator. Read more of Susan’s opinions on positive ageing:

Helpful links

Australian Human Rights Commission
Restart Programme

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