Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has floated the idea of seniors taking a ‘gap year’ in the lead-up to retirement.
He told the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday that there were more than six million Australians aged between 50 and 75 and many may want to transition to retirement through the seniors’ equivalent of the teenagers’ rite of passage ‘gap year’.
“This may involve part-time employment, changing careers, volunteer work or a combination of both,” Mr Wyatt said.
He said he was yet to consult cabinet on the issue.
“I personally believe we should consider a ‘seniors’ gap year’, made available for employees, in the lead-up to the traditional retirement age,” he said.
“Like teenagers have done for decades, as they plan their studies and career paths, this ‘gap year’ could allow older people to map out their future while maintaining job security.
“Perhaps we need a new transitional phase, for when we’re moving out of the traditional workforce, into an exciting new period of our lives. Not a sudden stop to working, but a gradual approach — transitioning to retirement.
“Right now, people like me, who may finish full-time work in their 60s, can expect to live for at least 20 years post-retirement,” Mr Wyatt said.
“The question is what will we do for the next few decades? How will we continue to contribute and how will our knowledge and skills be harnessed for the benefit of society and the economy?
“The number of us aged 65 and over is projected to more than double during the next 40 years, but we’re still failing to prepare well for living to 100 years of age.”