Australia now has its very own Age Discrimination Commissioner, with the appointment of the Honourable Susan Ryan AO.
Diversity Council Australia welcomed the appointment, and CEO Nareen Young said “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.”
She said, “Mature age workers often represent an experienced, hardworking and productive talent pool, with low absenteeism and strong loyalty and work ethic. It makes sense for employers not to ignore these workers as a source of talent.”
Ryan, who was instrumental in developing the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984, will officially commence her appointment on 8 August and said, “For older people to live with dignity they must have economic security, whether that is adequate superannuation or the right to continue working. That will be my priority.”
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.
The report also displayed data relating the significant economic cost involved when not utilising the skills and experience of older Australians.
Since the Age Discrimination Act was introduced in 2004, it came under the ad hoc authority of the Australian Human Rights Commission, until Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick took a particular interest in the area and popularised the need for a separate commissioner role.