Ageist employers be warned!

by Stephanie Zillman02 Aug 2011
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.

-Stephanie Zillman



  • by Heidi Holmes 3/08/2011 3:50:12 PM

    We at, Australia's leading job board for mature age workers, welcomes this appointment and looks forward to proactively working together in promoting the benefits of mature age workers while denouncing age based discrimination.

    We have many experienced candidates looking for work now. Visit our website or email if you require any additional information. I would also welcome any feedback relating to organisations proactively promoting the recruitment and retention of mature age workers. Many thanks

  • by Tony Roberts 3/08/2011 4:39:39 PM

    Having had Anti-Discrimination legislation in place since 2004 has had little or no impact on ageism in recruitment practice. In fact, I would say it is worse. The problem is with recruitment (both in the external recruiter and company internal scenarios)where much of the recruitment process responsibility (and almost certainly initial candidate screening)is allocated to a relatively inexperienced HR or staff member. That inexperience is invariably a reflection also of age, and my professional and personal experience is that the young and inexperienced lack any appreciation of the unique value to organisations; of mature workers. The problem is exacerbated by companies and recruitment firms turning a blind eye. I have no confidence that we have seen improvement over the years (this may also be true to some degree in respect to gender and race discrimination in my view). Change and respect for the legislation will only occur when senior HR practitioners (and the recruitment equivalent) come down from their strategic ivory towers, and recognise that successful recruitment is the most critical "deliverable" they have to offer. More CEOs should require their HR Execs to "get their hands dirty" and measure them on fundamental outcomes of which recruitment is key. Only then might we see some change in terms of recruitment practice being aligned with Anti-Discrimination legislation.

  • by Robert Markham 3/08/2011 7:16:32 PM

    There are still alot of older workers out there looking for jobs, being discriminated against by employers and mostly by recruitment companies. I was lucky enough to get a job with my current employer through the Olderworkers web page after my daughter saw them on the TV.

    I think I will reserve judgement on Susan Ryan unitl I see that she has done something for us. Elizabeth Broderick did NOTHING for olderworkers and I can tell you that because I was looking for a job for 2 years and I have never even heard of her.

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