Employment barred by discrimination
“Addressing the low workforce participation rates of older Tasmanians will become increasingly important as changes to the age pension qualifying age are introduced because those changes will have a disproportionate impact on people within Tasmania,” the submission said.
“It is critical, therefore, that factors preventing older Tasmanians remaining in the workforce are addressed.”
These barriers include reduced access to training or other opportunities to develop new skills where a change of industry or work is required; discrimination in recruitment processes and attitudes of employers and structural barriers such as access to worker’s compensation insurance or income protection insurance.
Hobart woman Felicity Boucher has had many professional roles in her working life but found it tough to get a look into the local job market.
The 46-year-old was one of more than 60 people who added their voice to a story on the Facebook page about the plight and judgment around older workers.
Many said that they too had experienced ageism in the employment market. They also wanted regulators to convince industry to overcome its age bias.
Ms Boucher earlier this month went to the first interview she had secured despite applying for hundreds of jobs since she became out of work six months ago.
She landed the job — with a Tasmanian company — and said it showed the importance of people being given a chance at interview level.
She also hopes her success would encourage others not to give up despite what could be a soul-destroying search.
Ms Boucher is convinced her age has been a factor in the past. She has requested feedback from potential employers but none has been bold enough to admit her age had been a consideration.
She is well educated, wellspoken and has worked overseas as a parks officer and in local government.
“I’m certainly not an idiot,” she said as she prepared to take a friends’ dog for a walk.
“I really do think I get put in pile B because of my age, not because I am seeking jobs that are not suitable.”
Wayne Reid, 56, who has secured work at Mures on Hobart’s waterfront after a frustrating job search, says he is also one of the lucky ones.
“It was a real struggle and I can see no other reason for that, after 40 years in the hospitality industry, other than my age,” Mr Reid said.
“I could be wrong, but if you speak to others in my age group it is a common theme. It is like you are thrown on the scrapheap after a life of work.
“It can really destroy a person’s perception of self worth.
“There is a real conflict. The Commonwealth Government is telling us to work until our 70s yet the message — that older workers are a valuable asset — is not getting through to most employers.
“Employees over 50 are dismissed and it is across many industries. We are reliable workers with experience. It really doesn’t make sense.”
Sue Leitch, from the Tasmanian Council on the Ageing, interviewed older Tasmanians before giving evidence to the Willing to Work inquiry when it came to Tasmania.
The people she spoke to were angry and frustrated, Ms Leitch said.
“There is a high level of frustration that is being felt by people who are either looking for work or are in workplaces where there’s not necessarily good work culture towards older people,” she said.
“What we’re finding in some of the restructures that have been going on in organisations is that people in their early 50s are being earmarked for redundancies and virtually tapped on the shoulder.”
Mr Yates said COTA welcomed the rollout of trial sites for the Career Transition Assistance Program.
The trials will start mid next year in Ballarat, Somerset in Queensland, central west NSW, Adelaide and Perth.
Mr Yates said they would be “one important step in mitigating the myriad of barriers that prevent mature-age Australians from returning to the workforce”.
“While we welcome efforts to remove some of the barriers older Australians face, more is required to address the full extent of the problem,” he said.
“Discrimination not only has a negative impact on the wellbeing of older Australians, but it also creates significant issues for our society and the economy.”
I’m certainly not an idiot. I really do think I get put in pile B because of my age not because I am seeking jobs that are not suitable.