KMWL Market Report

Ageism rife in Australia as nation ages

Written by: The Hilltops Phoenix

A new report shows most people who experience ageism are powerless.
A new report shows most people who experience ageism are powerless.A new report shows most people who experience ageism are powerless.

Nearly all Australians over 50 have experienced ageism in the past year but only one in five of them took any action, research has found.

The sad statistics are worth taking notice of today, Ageism Awareness Day.

EveryAGE Counts is today looking to raise awareness that although knowing how to respond to ageism can be tricky, there are a range of constructive actions people can take, including setting up affinity groups at work, escalating complaints strategically, and understanding how to approach conversations that make a difference.

"Ageism is pervasive, but often hidden. The only way we can end it is to bring it out of the shadows," said EveryAGE Counts Campaign Director Marlene Krasovitsky.

"Often older Australians feel powerless when we encounter ageism. However, if we know what it looks like and name it, we can take constructive actions in response. In this way each of us can help build an Australia without ageism.

Findings of the a nationwide poll include:

  • 45% of Australians over 50 say they have experienced ageism in the past year, and 52% of all Australians say they have witnessed ageism in the past year
  • 82% of older Australians who experienced ageism say they did not take any action in response.

Of these:

  • 27% said it was because it was hard to prove
  • 24% said it was because they didn't know how to respond
  • 22% said was because they were not sure if it was really ageism
  • 9% said they "didn't know what my options were".

"People often don't know how to approach difficult conversations about ageism, but we know there are approaches that work better than others. You may also take a look at your organisation’s diversity and inclusion strategy and if age is not included as a ground of diversity, suggest it is."

Ageism Awareness Day ambassador Monica Trapaga is well known to Australians through her decades of work on stage and screen, including on the ABC's Play School. She said she was inspired to join the campaign to help raise awareness of this form of discrimination.

"I've encountered all kinds of ageist discrimination during my time in television, and I know my experiences are far from unique," Ms Trapaga said. She said it’s something Australian’s need to take more seriously, as we’re all ageing as a nation.

"Like all forms of discrimination, the place to start is by spreading awareness.

So much ageism happens unconsciously, and it's allowed to keep happening because we don't feel sufficiently informed or empowered to push back. Ageism Awareness Day is about ending that and I couldn't be prouder to play this role."

EveryAGE Counts co-chair and former federal Minister Robert Tickner said Ageism Awareness Day was an important initiative and it was very pleasing to see so many individuals and organisations around the country having conversations about ageism and its impacts.

The proportion of the Australian population over 65 has doubled from 8 per cent to 15 per cent over the past 50 years. We can’t keep discriminating against a fifth of our population. We need to update our attitudes, structures, and practices.

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