Harnessing the wealth in ageing

Society’s willingness to harness the wealth of talent in older Australians will keep them in the workforce longer and enable them to help provide for the secure retirements they deserve, National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill told members in Western Australia this week.

While the ageing population presents its own set of challenges, they should not overshadow opportunities for employment for over 50s, said O’Neill at the annual WA Convention.

National Seniors research shows there were 7.3 million people in Australia aged over 50 in 2012 but the number would jump to 10.5 million by 2030.

Three years ago, around one quarter of the federal budget was directed towards health, aged care and age-related pensions - a proportion expected to increase significantly with an ageing population.

“If the economy is to keep growing and pensions and welfare are to keep pace with inflation, we need to make the most of all our resources, including the experience and talents of mature people – many of whom want to, or need to, remain in the workforce,” O’Neill said.

“We may also need to discuss the benefits and entitlements which older people now receive and which they can reasonably expect in the future”.

O’Neill also highlighted the need for more value to be placed on the unpaid work of older carers.

“If those carers were not able or not available, would Australia be able to pay for the services of those who could replace them? There is already a chronic shortage of workers in the aged care sector,” he said.

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