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.

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


Ageism & dementia-ism: a fearsome duo!

My new word is “dementia-ism”. It often goes hand in hand with ageism (already rife in our society) and when combined, they can have disastrous consequences for an older person.

As an elder abuse advocate, I have seen first hand the all too tragic results of this combination. Sometimes, it’s the patronising way a worker communicates with an older person, sometimes its blatant discrimination by agencies and institutions, and sometimes its much, much worse……

Let me tell you about Arthur (or “dad” as we shall also call him)…….

In 2011 Arthur, who is 77, began to exhibit early signs of dementia. He forgot things, got a little muddled sometimes and needed a little prompting about birthdays and paying accounts. Other than this, Arthur was living an independent and relatively fulfilling life. He was well connected socially, had a dog that he loved (and loved him), was playing golf regularly and was keeping himself and his small home in reasonably good order, although he admitted it wasn’t as good as when his wife was alive. When he had any uncertainties about all of this, he tended to ring his eldest daughter (most often for recipes or how to clean a doona).

Trouble was, his oldest daughter could see “the writing on the wall” – or at least that’s how she described it to her brother. She was convinced that dad would be better off in an aged care facility where he could have all the services he needed. Besides, dad was probably lonely now that mum was gone so this was the best place for him. Her brother certainly didn’t want the burden of caring for their dad, so the decision was made – he would be moved into an aged care facility.

A capacity assessment was organised so that a suitable placement could be arranged. Unsurprisingly, Arthur resisted, but this was viewed as “normal” by the professionals involved so a good deal of persuasion was aimed at Arthur and as the tension within the family had began to mount, causing his anxiety and stress levels to increase (exacerbating his muddle-headedness) Arthur reluctantly acquiesced to the assessment.

Naturally, with the elevated stress, things didn’t go well for Arthur and he was assessed as having only “limited capacity” which allowed his daughter to apply to VCAT for guardianship. She was able to show that her father was a danger to himself, citing an occasion when he had left the stove gas jets on). His age was duly considered and Guardianship was awarded. Arthur’s son was made Administrator. As a result, his home was placed on the market to pay for the aged care facility bond, and he was admitted to the facility in mid 2012.

When asked, he believed his age and his forgetfulness were his “enemies” and that these had been used against him by family and professionals alike. He resented the loss of power and the fact that his own wishes had been ignored. Sadly for Arthur, his dementia has since plateaued (and not worsened as anticipated) and it is likely that he faces upwards of 10-15 years in institutional care (with almost no independence), rather than in his family home.

Arthur isn’t alone. I have seen many more instances where a person’s age and “forgetfulness” have been used to remove a person’s independence, primarily through Enduring Powers of Attorney and Guardianship orders. It is common to hear older people say that they have noticed distinct changes in the way that their family, friends and service providers treat them as they age or once early dementia begins to be evident. “They treat me like a child” is perhaps the saddest comment.

At the present, there is a draft Bill on Powers of Attorney before the Victorian State Government for which the Department of Justice is calling for comments. This is a timely Bill, given the fact that by the year 2050 the number of people aged 65 and over will have doubled and the number of people with dementia will have tripled. We know that a person’s vulnerability to elder abuse dramatically increases when both these factors are at play.

The Bill is also timely, given the extent to which Enduring Powers of Attorney and Guardianship are misunderstood, not only by the donors and recipients, but also by a wide range of professionals who are frequently presented with these documents, including police, aged care workers, bank tellers and GP’s, with, as I have said and as we saw with Arthur, disastrous consequences.

Removal of an adult’s right to make their own decisions, good or bad, is a serious matter. Doing so without proper and thorough investigation is a form of elder abuse. We all need to remember (and this is an important point) that being “a pest” or “a burden” is not a crime. There are many strategies to resolve these issues that do not involve removal of an individual’s rights and independence.

It is up to all of us to be fully aware of how ageism and dementia-ism can colour our perceptions of older people and the way in which we communicate and/or assist them. When we see it occurring, we should challenge it and raise awareness of the implications wherever and whenever possible.

After all, one day, Arthur’s story could be yours…..


Written by Kaz Mackay

Elder Abuse Prevention Co-ordinator, Eastern Community Legal Centre

For World Elder Abuse Awarness Day, 2014