Posts Tagged “retirement”

From left: Catherine Brown, CEO of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Dr Susan Feldman, Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University, Sue Hendy, CEO of COTA Victoria

As Australia marked International Women’s Day this week, a new report shows half a million older Australian women are living in long-term income poverty, and calls for urgent affordable seniors housing.

Losing a job, becoming ill or injured, the breakup of a marriage of death of a spouse – these are among the most common triggers that plunge older women into poverty,new Australian research shows.

Some 34 per cent of single women over 60 lived in permanent income poverty, compared to 27 per cent of single older men and 24 per cent of couples, according to the research by Adjunct Associate Professor Dr Susan Feldman and Dr Harriet Radermacher from Monash University.

The study, commissioned by Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, showed that a “complex mix of circumstances” act to discriminate against women, including the casualisation of the workforce, the superannuation system, and family violence.

By age 65, women retire with about a third of the superannuation that men accrue, and government benefits account for 60 per cent of their income.

Dr Feldman, who has been researching the area of older women and ageing for more than 20 years, yesterday lamented that more progress has not been made on the issue.

She said government agencies and organisations were working with a limited understanding of the issue due to poor data.

“It’s quite depressing, because we are still collecting, analysing and dis-aggregating data based on the categories of 65-plus, with very little attention to cohort, gender and ethnicity,” Dr Feldman told Australian Ageing Agenda.

More broadly, Dr Feldman said that gerontology units all over the world were being closed and there had been a decline in university-based ageing research units that took a broader focus – into areas like older women and poverty – as research funding tended to favour bio-medical studies.

Older women need ‘a voice’

The study found that older women need “a strong national voice” articulating strategies to achieve gender equity in areas like superannuation, pay and flexible employment.

“Apart from service delivery organisations, local government, and advocacy networks that support women, women’s organisations are sparse and sometimes do not have a high profile,”said the research, which was based on a literature review and interviews with experts and service providers.

“I grew up in a period where we had a lot of information being shared through women’s organisations, face-to-face, we kept up to date with the latest things; we’ve lost that capacity to network, for older women particularly,” said Dr Feldman.

Action on affordable housing, employment

The report urged collaborations between government, community groups, researchers and the business sector to develop and implement innovative models of affordable housing, particularly for older women.

Dr Feldman also said she wanted to see the workplace become a more welcoming place and provide the same opportunities for women who wanted to remain working, through more flexible arrangements. Such efforts would not just boost women’s income but also bring about a sense of inclusion, she said.

The full study The Time of Our Lives? is available to read here.

 Source: Australian Ageing Agenda

Next month the Turnbull Government will be asking the Senate to support one of the most devastating attacks launched against poor and vulnerable Australians in recent memory. The Bill – entitled Social Security Legislation Amendment (Further Strengthening Job Seeker Compliance) Bill 2015 – proposes to give privately run job agencies unprecedented new powers to financially penalise unemployed and underemployed Australians. If passed the fines will come into effect on 1 July 2016.

Under the proposal, Australians receiving the dole can be fined 10% of their income support – increasing by 10% each day until they ‘re-engage’ – if they:

  • Fail to sign a job plan at their first job agency appointment; or
  • Are found by their job agency to have behaved inappropriately at an appointment (“inappropriate behaviour” is defined as acting in a manner “such that the purpose of the appointment is not achieved”); or
  • Fail to attend a Work for the Dole or Training exercise without an excuse deemed reasonable by the job agency.

All fines (roughly $55.00) will be deducted immediately. Unemployed Australians who feel they have been unfairly fined will be required to go through Centrelink’s arduous appeals process to get their money back – a procedure that can take up to four months.

This means that even if an unemployed worker successfully appeals against a fine – and thousands do every year – they will still be forced to endure up to four months without a significant portion of their income support. As privately run job agencies can effectively impose these financial penalties on unemployed workers before having to provide any concrete proof, the Coalition’s proposal gives privately owned job agencies the power of life and death over unemployed workers.

With the dole already $391.00 below the poverty line according to the Melbourne Institute, for many unemployed workers a 10% deduction of their income support will place them in severe financial distress. If this proposal is passed next month, unemployed Australians will be just one unfair penalty away from extreme poverty and even homelessness

The dole has already been proven to be not enough to live on. A recent report showed that one in four people on the dole were forced to beg on the streets for more than a year, while 6 in 10 were required to approach a charity for help. Escaping this poverty-trap has become almost impossible for unemployed Australians – according to official government figures there are 11 job seekers competing for each vacancy, even more when you consider low-skill jobs.

With unemployment already a one-way ticket to poverty for many Australians, why is the Turnbull Government introducing a bill that will make it considerably harder for unemployed workers to survive?

To answer this question, it is necessary to understand the employment services industry. Comprised of for-profit and not-for-profit companies ranging from billion-dollar corporations like Max Employment to charities like the Salvation Army, the employment services industry has become a highly lucrative business.

Under the Coalition Government’s 4-year $6.8 billion Jobactive program, Government payments to employment services are tied to a variety of ‘jobseeker outcomes’. The most efficient way for job agencies to maximise outcome payments is to ensure that their unemployed ‘case-load’ are, at a bare minimum, compliant with appointments and activities. Clearly the employment services industry has a financial interest in obtaining increased powers to penalise the unemployed.

With these perverse financial incentives already firmly in play, there are a number of well-documented cases of job agencies bullying unemployed workers. Every day, the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union receives new cases of Australians being bullied into unfair activities or appointments by money-hungry job agencies.

Even if unemployed workers are able to muster up the courage to demand that their rights be recognised, job agencies use the threat of sanctions to ensure compliance. With the continued failure of the Department of Employment to effectively regulate the industry and bring bullying job agencies into line, unemployed workers have nowhere to go. This has created a culture of fear and intimidation throughout the employment service industry.

By proposing that job agencies should be given new unprecedented powers to financially penalise unemployed workers, the Turnbull Government is sending a clear message to the employment services industry that these tactics are not only acceptable but should be intensified.

If you have been unfairly fined by your job agency, join the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union legal challenge against this unfair compliance system by contacting them on You can also participate in the AUWU’s Fight the Fine campaign against this bill. Visit the AUWU’s Facebook page for more info.

Our TV production company, based in Melbourne, is currently researching the area of baby boomers / seniors employment to assist us in a TV series we are looking at producing.


I am looking for personal stories to help demonstrate the success and also personal struggles when it comes to +50s gaining employment.

  • Have you re-trained in a new industry?
  • Are you a fish out of water, where you have been employed by a youthful company or brand specifically because of your expertise/experience?
  • Have found a new lease on life because of your new found employment?
  • Are you simply ‘bored’ in retirement and seeking work for something to do?
  • Or is going back to work after retirement an economic/personal choice?


I’m looking for a diverse range of interesting stories and takes. If you would like to get in touch to share your experiences or simply find out more, I would like to hear from you:

Email Pennie:




From: ABC Open


I work at ABC Open, the part of the ABC where people can share their own stories.

I thought you might be connected with people who would be interested in sharing their stories about retirement (and not retiring)

We are running a project about retirement where people write 300-700 words on their experience. It runs until Feb 22. Here is the info:

Retirement: how is it looking for you?
Many Australians feel the goalposts for retirement are moving. Are you enjoying the retirement lifestyle you’d hoped for? Or do you think you will never be able to stop working? Tell us about your experience.

The website is:

Could you share this information onto your networks?