Workforce misses out on seniors

A report claims that in 10 years' time there will be twice as many Australians aged 65, 10 times as many aged 85 and more than 50,000 aged over 100.

A report claims that in 10 years' time there will be twice as many Australians aged 65, 10 times as many aged 85 and more than 50,000 aged over 100.

BABY boomers are starting to turn 65. A report to be presented to the Treasurer today says that in 10 years' time there will be twice as many Australians aged 65, 10 times as many aged 85 and more than 50,000 aged over 100.

Receiving the report of the advisory panel on the economic potential of senior Australians, Mr Swan will call on Australians to embrace the change, saying that as a baby boomer himself, he is looking forward to a longer lifespan than could earlier generations.

''When the pension age was set at 65 early last century, most workers didn't live much past their 65th birthday,'' he will say.

''Now, we can expect most people to live for 20 or even 30 years longer. This brings an enormous opportunity. Those extra years can be rich, full of meaning and no less valuable than those of traditional working age.''

Mr Swan will announce a push to remove barriers to work for Australians aged 65 and over, quoting a government estimate that about 2 million seniors are not working but could be prepared to - a loss, he says, that costs Australia $10.8 billion per year.

''How can we imagine not tapping into the talent, experience, skills and capabilities of this rapidly growing group of Australians?'' he will ask a Melbourne conference, likening the shift to older workers to the shift to women in the workforce in the 1970s and 1980s.

''In their senior years, many will naturally choose a well-earned retirement,'' he will say. ''Australia's retirees are often volunteers, they are also child carers. About 660,000 Australian children are cared for by grandparents - that's nearly one-fifth of all children under 12''.

''But for seniors who want to engage in paid work, we need to do our best to let nothing stand in their way.''

The report will be presented by veteran seniors campaigner Everald Compton who celebrated his 80th birthday at the October tax summit. One recommendation is to extend nationwide exemptions from stamp duty for older Australians wanting to downsize homes.

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