Skip to main content


Age Discrimination Commissioner calls for a Convention on the Rights of Older Persons

Age Discrimination
older couple walking along the sand
Content type: Media Release
Topic(s): Age Discrimination

Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald AM, has called on the Federal Government to formally endorse the creation of a UN Convention on the Rights of Older Persons, in what he said remains a missing piece in the international human rights framework.

Currently, there is no binding international instrument dedicated to the rights of older persons, like there is for race, sex, children, and disability. This is despite the growing trend of ageing populations, both globally and in Australia.

Commissioner Fitzgerald today officially backed the development of a UN Convention, saying the time has come for Australia and the world to better safeguard the rights of older people.

“Australians are getting older, and whether it be in our workplaces, health, social or aged care sectors, the challenges facing our ageing population are increasing - with each issue exacerbated by soaring economic pressures,” Commissioner Fitzgerald said.

“Governments need to re-examine existing systems to find new or better ways to value, support and safeguard the needs and rights of our growing cohort of older people." 

Commissioner Fitzgerald said a Convention on the Rights of Older Persons would “provide valuable practical guidance” to law and policy makers and the wider community, by laying out universally agreed principles and standards about older persons that is both “comprehensive and coherent”.

“A Convention would clearly recognise and affirm human rights as they apply specifically in older age and to older people in all their diversity” Commissioner Fitzgerald said.

“It would articulate unequivocally that ageism and age discrimination are not acceptable and strengthen current reporting and monitoring on the enjoyment of rights by older persons. 

“Importantly, such a Convention will strengthen the voices and choices that older people should have in the services they receive and the decisions that affect them."

Commissioner Fitzgerald added that Federal Government support for a UN Convention would send a strong message that Australia values the human rights of older people and is committed to giving voice and visibility to their rights and the issues that affect them. It would further inform a comprehensive national human rights framework, as the Commission’s ongoing Free + Equal project has long proposed.

“Both practically and symbolically, a new Convention would be a crucial step towards ensuring Australia’s diverse older persons – and older people across the world – are treated with dignity, entitled to live free from abuse, and empowered to participate on an equal basis with others,” he said.

ENDS | Media contact: or 0457 281 897