First age commissioner shows mature workers ‘valuable’

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First age commissioner shows mature workers ‘valuable’

The appointment of former Senator Susan Ryan as Australia’s first Age Discrimination Commissioner shows the importance of keeping mature-age workers in the workforce, according to Diversity Council Australia.

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The appointment of former Senator Susan Ryan as Australia’s first Age Discrimination Commissioner shows the importance of keeping mature-age workers in the workforce, according to Diversity Council Australia (DCA).

DCA CEO Nareen Young said mature workers were a valuable commodity as the population ages and skills shortages emerge.

She said DCA believes the creation of a dedicated Age Discrimination Commissioner role demonstrates its importance within the Australian community and labour market.

‘Our Grey Matters research clearly showed that mature age workers want to continue active links to the workplace and ongoing participation in it,’ Young said.

Stereotypes
 
‘Inaccurate stereotypes about older workers being inflexible or hard to train are just a few examples of age discrimination that need to be addressed in order to remove barriers to workforce participation. The same applies to discrimination against younger workers.’

Young said research by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre has shown there are nearly two million older Australians who are willing to work, could be encouraged to work, or are unemployed and looking for work, and that there is a significant economic cost for not utilising the skills and experience of older Australians.

She said this is consistent with the Federal Government’s 2010 Intergenerational Report, which examines the ageing population and workforce.

Productive
 
‘Mature age workers often represent an experienced, hard-working and productive talent pool, with low absenteeism and strong loyalty and work ethic,’ Young said.

‘It makes sense for employers not to ignore these workers as a source of talent.’

‘Flexible ways of working, opportunities for learning and development, and an organisational culture inclusive and supportive of older employees are key factors that influence their decision to work. Addressing age discrimination is a key part of all of these.’

Ryan will take up her position on 8 August as a fulfilment of Labor’s election promise to allocate $4 million over four years to the aged workers area.

She was an ACT Senator from 1975 to 1988 and served as Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women and Special Minister of State, and presided over the passage of the Sex Discrimination Act and the Affirmative Action Act. She was Labor’s first female cabinet minister.
 
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