Mature Age Jobseekers on the Rise

The 2014 Federal Budget included many new initiatives that will affect mature age workers and Seniors. Some have been received well others, others not so well like the proposed increase in the pension age to 70.

While we can sit around and debate the merit of these programs, what we can be certain of is that something does need to be done to increase the workforce participation rate of mature age workers.

Broadly speaking, the last 30 years have seen an increase in participation among Australians in their 50s and 60s. However, in more recent times, this growth has plateaued. So what does this tell us? Well, a couple of things.

Firstly, this indicates that there has been an increase in the number of people in their 50s and 60s who want and are more importantly, able to continue working into their ‘retirement’ years. They are not their parents’ generation and many intend to work beyond what their parents would have.

Secondly, it tells us there is still an underutilisation of this labour force, with Australia underperforming when compared to other OECD countries, including the UK, USA and New Zealand.

As a job board specially tailored for mature age workers,, can also vouch for this ‘willingness’ to continue working. We have seen a consistent rise in our database of mature, experienced and knowledgeable jobseekers who are looking for employment opportunities. Currently, we have close to 30,000 registered jobseekers on our site.

Adage was established to provide a dedicated platform where age could be embraced and celebrated. The fact that a specialised site has resonated with so many older workers also suggests that this talent pool is finding it tough in the traditional job hunt market.

Unfortunately ageism does exist in our community and within organisations. Negative stereotypes have taken over from businesses realising the true value that exists within this workforce. However, with the 45+ age bracket becoming the fastest growing labour market segment in Australia, employers will simply not be able to sustain their workforce if they continue to ignore this demographic.

Encouragingly, at Adage, we have seen a recent increase in the number of employer enquiries and advertisements. The proposed budget announcement to reward employers of unemployed jobseekers aged 50+ with a $10k payment incentive has certainly put older workers on the radar. While these cash incentives have had little impact in the past, they do appear to help raise awareness about this very valuable talent pool.

However, what we need is large corporates and industry groups to take a leadership position and actively promote and recruit mature age workers, not just because it is a necessary thing to do, but also because it makes good business sense.

Older workers will not only reward employers with loyalty, dedication and increased productivity, the also act as great mentors for younger employees. Up to four generations could now be working within one organization. Employers therefore need to implement strategies encouraging a cohesive working environment – mentoring is one such strategy.

While connecting mature age workers with age friendly employers is Adage’s number one priority, we also remain committed to educating employers on the benefits of hiring maturity and raising awareness across the community.

In the end, age is the one thing we all have in common, so it is time that it is embraced rather than ignored.


Written by

Heidi Holmes

Managing Director of, Australia’s leading job board for mature age workers and age friendly employers.

69 love sex senior

69 Love Sex Senior

69 love sex seniorNone of us wants to think about our grandparents “doing it”. We pretend to ourselves that at a certain age, people lose interest in sex. We keep it in the realm of the young – those with firm bodies, unbridled passions and, well… flexibility.

In 69 Love Sex Senior, filmmaker Menna Laura Meijer not only challenges our denial of older people as sexual beings but also explores their broad variety of sexual and romantic experiences. She shows that sex and love continue into older years in just as many different forms as we see amongst the young. Together with her wonderfully warm and entertaining selection of older people she explores a broad spectrum of experiences and expectations.

During the course of the film, we meet Atie and Kees, inseparable, in love and still excited by each other after 60 years together. Hans, a bi-sexual man who after a lifetime of promiscuity discovers the joy of love with 50 year old Xander, proclaiming that it has him “blowing trumpets”. Wietske describes the intensity of the love between her and her now senile husband, as she seeks comfort from her boyfriend, a recent widower trying to fill the void left by his wife.  Gerard and Addy, in their early 70’s, reconnect to enjoy the passion they’d momentarily tasted during an experimental partner swap in 1968.

Every story has its own insights, its own warmth. Although confronting at times (there are sex scenes included), Meijer’s slow, quiet approach to story-telling allows time to breathe in the various snippets of her subjects very personal lives, to absorb them and be warmed by them. It is a slow-paced film but it feels right – it feels like it moves at the pace of those telling their stories.

For anyone who has ever thought that love was for the young, this is a heartwarming film that will convince you there is plenty of reason to hope for a passionate third age.

69 Love Sex Senior is showing as part of the Human Rights Film Festival.


Australian Premiere

When: Tuesday 20 May, 8:45pm

Where: Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Price: Full $18 | Conc $16 | Group (6+) $14 (group booking via phone only)

celebrate living history project 2

Celebrate living history

The smile from a senior sharing a story with a university student is what makes me happy.  

celebrate living history project 2Sometimes we forget to look beyond age and realise there is a person underneath who has a rich history to share.

I remember doing an interview with a former teacher and she said “Bev, when you get old, you too will become invisible.”

Maybe because the blinkers have been taken off my eyes I asked “But how I can see you?”

She told me sometimes she could be physically there, but ignored, people don’t think she is special just a little old lady.

Through establishing not-for-profit Celebrate Living History, I aim to make seniors feel important and most of all visible. 

I believe no one should feel invisible and have created an internship program, which connects tertiary students with seniors.

What I love about the two different generations is it does not matter how old you are, there is a friendship to be shared. I want to break down barriers and make seniors feel valued.

I have been working on Celebrate Living History for the past three years and I have learnt so much. One of the seniors that I had grown close to asked, “What have you learnt in three years?

If I were to look back, I learnt that it does not matter what status, job or life experience you have it is about the person inside. I have just graduated from a Certificate III in Aged Care and my placement at a nursing home made me see life on the other side.

At first I felt sorry for the residents, but then I got to know them. Some of the residents despite their position kept a bright outlook on life; it is the small things that count, like being able to stroke your cat everyday to that cheeky extra slice of pizza. It is about being in the moment and appreciating what you have.

Additionally I have learnt, how important it is for a senior to socialise, as it improves their quality of life so much. Just taking time out to hang with a senior means so much to them, everyone should feel important.

celebrate living history project 3This is just the start of the knowledge I have gained. I want students to follow in my footsteps to learn and make valuable life-long friendships with the older generation.  

My focus this year will be on Celebrate Living History reaching more tertiary institutes so that further students can learn, document and cherish a senior’s story, just like I have.


Written by

Bev Wilkinson

Founder of Celebrate Living History


HOME: An unusual arts project about ageing

My name is Brienna Macnish and I’m twenty-five. For the past twelve months I have been interviewing older people about their experiences of ageing as part of an arts project called HOME. I’ve heard lots of different stories, some uplifting, some deeply sad and have been struck time and time again by the generosity with which people have shared their stories with me.

HOME is the result of my interviewing. It is an audio work, experienced by one person at a time inside the home of a stranger.  Individually, audience members walk through a home, exploring and listening to a very personal and moving account of one woman’s experience of the years passing.

What makes this work special is that the woman, Marian, whom the work is about, is not exceptional or extraordinary. Her story is recognisable and the story of many Australians. What is extraordinary is her willingness to share her very personal experiences with me, and through the recordings I made, with you.

MY hope is that the HOME will encourage older and younger people alike to think about what ageing means both to themselves and to the Australian community more broadly.

HOME is ran as part of the prestigious Next Wave Festival 2014. For more information visit

Third Age: Don’t panic, it’s just another stage of life

When my internet goes down, stay away from me.

I become a maniac. It creates a special kind of anxiety of which I knew nothing before the days of my beloved laptops. I remember each laptop as people remember their dead pets. And my early ones, not to mention the telephone services that sustained them, were as dependable as a politician’s promise.

I’d never have managed if my computer blokes, Darryl and Rob, had not lived close and were always there for the stuttering, distressed victim of early internet mania. Some friends gave up on the internet because of these early experiences. Others became stronger for it, learning quickly that the only constant is perpetual change. I just got better laptops and worse internet anxiety. That is the difference between young and old internet users. The young take the internet for granted. The old see it as a miracle and fear its loss.

Under stress of internet loss recently, I made a silly mistake about the workings of my car air conditioning switch. I have made similar mistakes in the past, even in my youth, and after a bit of a blush, shrugged them off. This time, despite kind words from the mechanic, I feared that I was not on top of my game anymore.

For this I have to thank the media for all their Armageddon stories about how just around the corner is an “avalanche” of demented old things. Past age 65, we become like rabbits in a spotlight, ever fearful that the D word will be aimed at us. We may lose confidence, though there is nothing wrong with us. We may see nothing but a downward spiral to becoming half-joke, half-pest to our families.

Because of ageing population panic, you can expect sly looks around you if you lose a pencil. The rate of dementia is not increasing, but panic stories about it are.

It has increased in those with controlling temperaments, such as politicians and their advisers, a tendency to remove things from the lives of the old: their houses, their driving licenses, their ability to maintain their simple lives within the constraints of fixed incomes. The latest discussion of toll roads is just one which has left out of account what such might mean to pensioners. Only the abolition of compulsory age-based testing for drivers has given me some hope of a turnaround in thinking.

Cue for some constructive stories, without the old stereotypes, about the interesting things that, say, Domiciliary Care does in the community to help old people sustain their lives at home, about more imaginative housing and health solutions, about improved attitudes to what is just another stage of life. Self-doubt engendered by dementia hysteria can be crippling. It can ruin our precious years.

What do we do? Not sure, but now my internet is fixed I might find the answer.


Authors details:

Written by Shirley Stott Despoja. Reproduced with Shirley’s permission. The column was first published  in the Adelaide Review.

Shirley’s Third Age columns appear in  The Adelaide Review and The Melbourne Review each month.

Old age

I can’t die now: I have enough coat hangers for the first time in my life.

This seems a powerful reason for ploughing on further into my 70s. You are sensing that deep down I am a frivolous woman. It is a reaction to all the people taking up laptops and telling people how to be old. I just can’t take it. When I started this column in 2008 no one had a word to say for the old. Now the air is thick with pontifications and I really hate it. My only mantra is: don’t be told how to be old.

Listen up. I am the first to say that old people should have jobs if they want them (as I did in my last column). I am the last to say it should be compulsory.

The wind is harsh down here in the west, close to the sea. I am so irritated that I walk down the hall as noisily as I can in slappy slippers so that I can hear I am alive above the wind’s howling. I am cross that I can’t stand on the lavatory to hang a picture of a bougainvillea-covered dunny I painted years ago. I stood there for a while thinking I might risk it, then thoughts of a nursing home kicked in and I gave up. Someone will come and put it up for me one day, but that is not the point, darling. My cat is sleeping so peacefully in her basket that I think I should give her a shake so she can wake up and be my friend. I am putting off ringing a human friend because I am afraid of his news.

The washing machine tries to walk out the door every time it is on fast spin and the cotton quilt inside is too heavy for me to do anything about it.

Old age is a bugger.

But most of all I am livid that the author of a new book (Patricia Edgar, In Praise of Ageing, Text Publishing) is advocating that the pension age be lifted to 70 and other nasty things “to promote a culture in which working to 70 and beyond is seen as normal”.

Aaargh. You see what I mean about everyone having too much to say about old age?

If you love old age you want people to share that feeling. Telling them they can’t have the pension until 70 is not the way to go. This rich country can afford to give old people who need it a bit of comfort for their final stretch. And comfort for many people means doing nothing very much: after a lifetime of being at everyone’s beck and call. The people who want the OAP to be raised to 70 are the ones who have a nice little nest egg (of course they worked for it) and are travelling the world. They feel full of life and verve. But a lot of people had jobs that were anything but challenging and enjoyable. They need to get the hell out of there before they die prematurely.

Some of my friends didn’t make it to 70. Well, that saved the nation something, didn’t it?

Edgar’s book is about more than the OAP. I think she would be a great person to have on board if you were trying to make a nursing home accommodate the needs of an old person. She’s a bossyboots and it is plain that she can be very effective. For her, being asked, at 76, if she uses the internet is ageism. And there are stories about some interesting Australian lives, told (rather stodgily) in her book. Hugh Mackay’s back jacket comment “if Edgar’s rational arguments don’t convince you, (he means that ageing is not bad news) her human stories will” is fair enough.

So what did I do to overcome my irritation with bossyboots and the weather? A picture came into my mind of an old girl up the street on her rusty old “girl’s” bicycle, like the one I had when I was 13. She tells me off for gardening in my good clothes. She talks and laughs a lot. She’s a real Westie, and still has me on probation I think, as I only moved here four years ago. She is wonderful, even if you don’t know her story.

Old age is wonderful. Join me in a glass of wine. Don’t be stupid. Of course you can drink on your own.

Author details:

Written by Shirley Stott Despoja. Reproduced with Shirley’s permission. The column was first published  in the Adelaide Review.

Shirley’s Third Age columns appear in  The Adelaide Review and The Melbourne Review each month.


The longevity revolution & ageism

“Ageism differs in that it is not directed at a minority group; it impacts on men and women of every race. But the predominant images of old age are out of keeping with the evidence.” Patricia Edgar

With the longevity revolution we are entering a new and unprecedented stage of our history. With advances in medicine and public health, most of the world’s people have gained 30 additional years of life in the 21st century. People now expect longer and healthier lives.

Yet despite this immense demographic change we continue to have obsolete attitudes about growing older. The social construct of old age and how older people are viewed should now be updated and revised.

We need to redefine ageing. We need to inform and educate Australians of all ages about the harmful effects of age discrimination which is the by- product of out dated views on ageing.

The media, including advertising plays a very significant part in forming community attitudes towards ageing and the discriminatory attitudes which often stem from negative stereotypes or misconceptions about older people.

We need to promote greater awareness of the damaging effects of negative stereotyping on the lives of older people. As with all struggles for human rights, the fight for fair treatment of older people begins with bringing to public attention the prejudices and discrimination that daunts older peoples’ lives.

COTA could begin to tackle this problem by working with media professionals in journalism and advertising on developing strategies to educate media professionals, help change the representation of older people and work towards ageing being presented in an accurate, contemporary and unbiased manner.

Brendan O’Dwyer

Media & Communications at COTA Victoria


laughing couple

The beauty of age

laughing coupleWorking in marketing and communications in the not-for-profit sector, I have am always considerate of how people are portrayed in both words and images. How we represent people to the rest of the community can have a really big impact on how that particular group of people, whether it is people experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, people of different ethnicities or older people, are perceived by the general community. That perception in turn drives how those people are treated in society.

Today I’ve been trying to set up a photo library specifically images of older people. I buy photos from a stock library so they are taken by different photographers from all around the world. Most of the photographers are taking the photos they think people will want to buy so they have a commercial purpose in mind, which tends to play up stereotypes even more than usual.

As I scan through literally thousands of images, our stereotypes of older people are evident –

• Older people drink tea and do lots of gardening

• Older people live in nursing homes and spend a lot of time with doctors and nurses

• Older people find technology difficult to understand and need younger people to help them with it

• Younger people, when interacting with older people, always take the leading role – and often feel it is necessary to lean over the older person or pat their arm

• Older couples are always heterosexual (although never actually sexual)

My list could go on forever…

And while I think it is important that we challenge these stereotypes and make an effort to represent a broader picture of older people, there was something else I learned today that I felt was even more important.

You see, as I looked at thousands of old faces, all I could see was incredible beauty. I didn’t expect this – I am willing to accept that as we get older wrinkles, grey hair and changes to our body shape are inevitable but I also generally accepted that beauty was for the young. We are surrounded every day by young models – even the older people in the funeral plan and incontinence commercials on television aren’t really that old. Our acceptable version of an older person is usually someone barely at retirement age -someone with more than a third of their life still ahead of them!

Spending hours looking closely at the faces of a huge variety of people, of different nationalities and genders, aged from around 55 to 80, I feel robbed by the limited portrayal of beauty our society has accepted. Perhaps we wouldn’t all be quite so scared of growing older if we saw more older people every day. Perhaps we would accept our own wrinkles and grey hair much more easily if we had the chance to see how beautiful they look on someone else.

If advertising is supposed to use aspirational visions to get us to buy stuff, why aren’t they showing us how beautiful it is to grow old?


Written by Jacqueline O’Donnell

Founder, Just Good Marketing