Older Australians to contribute more to economy

The Australian Government will establish an Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians to ensure the potential of the older members of our community is considered in a range of policy debates.


There has been a tendency to look at the ageing of the population as a problem to be solved, but we must not lose sight of the benefits and opportunities that come with a larger and more active community of senior Australians, said Mark Butler, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing.


The new Advisory Panel will ensure these considerations are injected into a range of contemporary policy debates, such as the opportunities created by the National Broadband Network for senior Australians, he said.


The Advisory Panel will also examine how businesses and policy makers can assist senior Australians in their transition from the workforce into other valuable endeavours, such as supporting their families, mentoring, volunteering and community work.


The government sees the Panel complementing the work of the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Employment, which will continue to focus on measures to promote workplace participation.


Mr Everald Compton AM will chair the Panel, with the other members to be announced in early April. It will produce a series of reports to Government in the second half of 2011.


The Panel will undertake targeted consultation with relevant experts and peak representative bodies around the country. Its work will be supported by a secretariat to be established in the Federal Treasury.


The manner in which it is to be established seems to presents the Advisory Panel as a lesser organisation than the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Employment which deals with workplace participation.


The Advisory Panel is to look at older workers transitioning “from the workforce into other 'valuable' endeavours, such as supporting their families, mentoring, volunteering and community work”. That is principally from paid work to unpaid work.


That in itself is a travesty. At what point does the valuable experience and paid long run older expertise lose its worth and become converted into unpaid volunteering and community activities?


Rather than setting up a panel to advise the government on how to extract free effort from older experts, Mr Butler should be developing employment policies to ensure that older Australians are, if they wish to be employed, are able to be employed and be fully and fairly remunerated for the use of their skills.


The question which should be asked is whether the brief of the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Employment should be expanded to ensure that older Australians are engaged and that their economic contributions are rewarded in meaningful economic terms rather than just warm feelings.


Those interested in the Panel's work or consultations can contact the secretariat at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


30 March 2011.