EveryAGE Counts campaign is putting an end to ageism and discrimination

GROWING ISSUE: There is more ageism in Australia than most people may realise.
GROWING ISSUE: There is more ageism in Australia than most people may realise.

A campaign is fighting ageism and age discrimination in Australia.

More than 20 Australian organisations and individuals have formed a powerful coalition to end the prejudice. 

The EveryAGE Counts campaign was launched in Sydney this week by the Commonwealth Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson and Robert Tickner.

It featured the launch of a video voiced by Australian actor Bryan Brown and the signing of a pledge to end ageism and discrimination.

Robert Tickner said that what marks out age from other forms of prejudice and discrimination is that, if we are lucky, all of us can experience old age.

“It’s why ageism is often described as ‘discrimination against your future self’,” Mr Tickner said.

Mr Tickner called for a National Agenda for Older Australians to improve economic, social, health and civic participation outcomes for older people.

“We want to see whole-of-government action on ageing and ageism, and that governments maintain a ministerial position responsible for ageing and older Australians. 

“We would like to see governments at all levels help drive a public conversation about ageing and ageism including support for a broad, sustained public awareness and education campaign,” Mr Tickner said.

The Age Commissioner was in Katherine last month, exploring the challenges of elder abuse, while working to improve rights of older workers. 

Dr Kay Patterson said she was particularly worried about the number of older women at risk of homelessness in the town. 

Never before have Australians lived so long and had such a sustained period of active life, Dr Kay Patterson said this week at the launch of theEveryAGE Counts campaign. 

“The number of Australians over the age of 65 is expected to more than double by 2055, while the average life expectancy of Australians continues to rise,” Dr Patterson said.

The latest survey by the Australian Human Resources Institute found that almost a third of organisations are reluctant to recruit workers over 50

Commonwealth Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson

“It’s an enormous opportunity, but outdated negative attitudes and beliefs about ageing and older people are preventing older people from contributing - socially and economically - and therefore our communities and our economy are missing out on the many benefits of its citizens living longer, healthier lives.”

Dr Patterson said that two-thirds of age discrimination complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission relate to an experience in the workplace.

“The latest survey by the Australian Human Resources Institute found that almost a third of organisations are reluctant to recruit workers over 50,” Dr Patterson said.

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Campaign co-chair, Dr Kirsty Nowlan, Executive Director at The Benevolent Society, said this campaign is important because older people are often portrayed as a ‘burden’ and cost to society – as passive recipients of pensions and health and aged care services.

“This not only devalues most people’s experience, it stops us from discussing the diversity of experiences faced by people as they get older, many of which should be incredibly positive,” Dr Nowlan said.

The EveryAGE Counts campaign will build a people’s movement so all Australians can be involved in the change they want to see.  The campaign will equip individuals and groups everywhere to speak out against ageism wherever they find it.

“I challenge every person and organisation to think about the implications this has for them,” Dr Patterson said. “Don’t see this as an issue for others. This is personal. It is about every one of us – today, in a year or two, or in 30 years.”

The campaign asks all Australians to take action by visiting the campaign website www.everyagecounts.org.au and signing the pledge. 

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