Discrimination and mobility issues are at the forefront of ageing strategy discussions in Bondi.
On January 18, a roundtable attended by state government representatives, political bodies and community groups was held to develop the NSW Government’s Ageing Strategy.
Academic and member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Ageing, Diana Olsberg, said she personally noticed the issue of elderly employment recurring in discussions.
She said many older people would like to work, either in part-time or full-time roles, but are finding it difficult to access the labour market on account of their age.
“People were talking about some of their own personal experiences of having to either hide their age when they apply or when they get to the point of having an interview they are then told they are much too experienced for this. Which is just newspeak for ‘you’re too old’.”
Much of the impetus to get back into the workforce, Ms Olsberg said, has arisen due to financial difficulties.
“People were saying ‘I lost money in the 2008 GFC so I thought I was going to have enough but I didn’t’,” she said.
Around 30 people were in attendance, including those from the Waverley Home Library and the Association of Independent Retirees.
Employment was not the only issue under discussion. Founder of Arts and Health Australia, Margret Meagher, said problems surrounding mobility were a perennial concern.
“It’s about the importance of making public areas accessible,” she said. “People are conscious that as you get older you’re more restricted in terms of stairs.
“The issue there was when councils develop parks, they need to be thinking about pathways that are suitable for older people.”
One attending woman mentioned the cliff-walk around Tamarama which incorporates several stair sections in its design. She said it was largely inaccessible to those who have difficulty walking and that such issues need to be resolved.
Also present was Reg Ryan, 87, who was not entirely impressed by the proceedings. He said much of the dialogue was impractical, such as discussion about expanding the size of roads in the eastern Sydney area.
Mr Ryan said there was not enough “hard-nosed analysis” in light of the current political and economic situation. He did not think the consultation would lead to effective action from the NSW government.
A spokesperson from the NSW Government said details of the draft will be released in March for public comment.
The resulting Government Ageing Strategy will be announced in July.