The growth in the number of older Australians provides significant benefits and opportunities for Australia. To achieve these benefits we need to remove the barriers that prevent many older Australians from reaching their full potential in workplaces and the community. One of these barriers is discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, which often stem from negative stereotypes or misconceptions about older people.
This research, Fact or fiction? Stereotypes of older Australians, comprises the first stage of the project Age positive: Promoting positive and diverse portrayals of older Australians, which has been funded by the Federal Government. It reveals the prevalence of negative stereotypes as well as the underrepresentation of older people in media and advertising. Significantly, the stereotypes and invisibility have influenced perceptions of the younger generations, created negative employer attitudes and impacted negatively the way older people view themselves.
My hope, in publishing this research, is to promote greater awareness of the damaging effects of negative stereotypes on the lives of older people and on the cohesiveness of our society. Following increased awareness, I hope that decision makers will look to change the way they present older Australians, to reflect more realistically their value, capability and experience. The benefits for our economy, for corporate Australia and for older Australians themselves, are clear.