By Commission President and Acting Age Discrimination Commissioner, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM
Every year on the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP), the world comes together to celebrate and reflect on the contributions of older people in our communities.
This year’s IDOP theme is ‘Fulfilling the Promises of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Older Persons Across Generations’. The event puts a spotlight on older people around the world, on their enjoyment of their rights and in addressing violations, looking at a future that delivers on the promise to ensure all people enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Populations are growing older globally, including Australia. Almost a quarter of Australia’s population will be over 65 by 2063, and there will be three times as many people over 85 as there are today.
The Federal Government's 2023 Intergenerational Report highlighted how our growing generation of older people will eventually outstrip the traditional younger workers due to a slowing population growth.
As of July 1, the pension age has risen to 67, while a combination of flexible work arrangements, labour shortages, and cost of living pressures means people are either choosing to, or required to, work longer.
It’s clear that older Australians are already re-writing what it means to grow older and stay well longer.
They are increasingly continuing in paid employment to older ages, introducing the advantages of the 5-Generation workforce which is more reflective of our communities.
So many aspects of our communities look set to have an increasing interaction between older and younger generations and this is a cause for optimism.
This will create opportunities for intergenerational connections to positively address the simmering undercurrent of ageism and prevent human rights violations.
Ageism is an obstacle to the experience of ageing positively. It affects all ages, but research led by the former Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO, found there is more solidarity between the generations than there is division, as shown in the Commission’s 2021 research What’s Age Got to Do with it?
While it may be the most acceptable form of prejudice, there is a growing body of research that education and intergenerational interventions are real antidotes in addressing ageism.
The International Day of Older Persons comes at a time when the focus on ageing is significant. We still have much work to do in preparing for a world where there are more older people – but there is much to learn when we work across generations.
The International Day of Older Persons is marked on October 1.
For more information about the Commission’s work on ageism research and intergenerational projects go to:
Employing and Retaining Older Workers, completed with the Australian Human Resources Institute, provided insights around our ageing workforce. It found age discrimination persists despite this contradicting the real-life experience of working with older people.
The Centenarian Portrait Project – where 465 teenage artists from across Australia painted the portraits of 465 Centenarians over a period of seven years.
Changing perspectives: testing an ageism intervention, evaluated the effectiveness of a short education intervention in reshaping perceptions about ageing and older people among those providing services to older people in aged care and community sectors.