Report on the Economic Potential of Seniors

The first report from the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians has been released.

 

The Advisory Panel looks at how Australia can harness the opportunities presented by a larger and more active community of older Australians.

 

The Panel is working to ensure that Australia does not lose the valuable experience and skills of seniors as they move into retirement. It is also working to ensure that seniors have the opportunity to stay involved in the community.

 

The Panel, chaired by Everald Compton and also including Professor Gill Lewin and Professor Brian Howe, has identified a number of themes from its public consultations. These include improving workforce participation, encouraging life-long learning and better planning for seniors' housing needs.

 

The report is designed to encourage debate around these and other issues. The Panel is inviting further input from the community as it continues its deliberations.

 

Australians moving into their senior years are generally healthier, higher skilled and more financially secure than previous generations. This provides a wider range of opportunities both for individual older Australians and for the broader community.

 

The proportion of Australians aged 65 or over will rise to about 23 per cent of the total population by 2050, compared to 14 per cent today.

 

The growing number of older Australians is changing the shape of our society, and bringing with it challenges. It also brings with it benefits and opportunities that come with a larger and more active community of seniors.

 

Seniors are choosing to contribute to our community and our economy in many different ways; for example, caring for their parents or their grandchildren, volunteering through community groups, or continuing with paid work.

 

The percentage of people over 55 in paid work has grown from about 24 per cent to 34 per cent in the last 10 years.

 

The Panel has held public meetings in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth, with further meetings scheduled for Alice Springs, Armidale, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart and Sydney.

 

A wide range of issues, reflecting the broad nature of the terms of reference, has emerged from the panel’s consultations.

 

The panel has identified a number of key matters that require further deliberation. In its report, the panel has invited the public to provide their views on the ways in which Australia can realise the economic potential of senior Australians. In particular, the panel welcomes comments on the questions listed.

 

Staying connected to communities

A technology revolution is occurring at the same time as the world’s population is ageing.

 

Q. Are seniors benefiting fully from the technology revolution? What is needed to maximise their engagement in the digital economy?

 

Q. How do we ensure all seniors have the necessary skills, knowledge and access to technology?

 

Preserving our environment

Senior Australians are concerned about, and affected by environmental issues. Importantly, they can, and want to, be part of the solution.

 

Q. What can senior Australians do to shape the environment that future generations will inherit? Who should do what?

 

Fostering positive attitudes towards seniors

Discrimination can close off, or make difficult, the avenues for older Australians to participate in community life, in leisure activities, as consumers and in the workplace.

 

Q. How can individuals and organisations promote positive attitudes towards older Australians? What is an appropriate term to describe older people — many consider that the terms ‘senior’ or ‘mature’ are not appropriate?

 

Q. Do the media have a responsibility to portray all people as individuals without stereotyping?

 

Improving workforce participation

Australia’s skills shortage means the contribution of older people is too valuable to waste. All workers need to be given opportunities to participate in paid work and update their skills over their life course.

 

Q. What is needed to encourage employers to recognise the value of older workers and increase their retention and recruitment?

 

Supporting healthy, active lifestyles

It is never too late to adopt healthy lifestyle practices to benefit the mind and body. Opportunities exist for businesses and community groups to expand the products and services targeting the growing number of seniors.

 

Q. How do we encourage older Australians to engage in preventative health practices? Is it well understood that it is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle?

 

Q. What is holding Australian businesses back from developing products and services tailored to the needs of older people?

 

Creating new ways to volunteer

Senior Australians are able and willing to volunteer in varied and changing ways reflecting their diverse experience and skills.

 

Q. How can organisations restructure to make volunteering opportunities for older people more rewarding?

 

Designing to suit the demographic

As the proportion of older people grows, the need for age-friendly housing and communities increases.

 

Q. What mechanisms would facilitate the development and maintenance of age-friendly environments and infrastructure?

 

Q. What would encourage the property development and real estate industries to increase housing tailored to the needs of older people?

 

Planning ahead for life’s transitions

Planning ahead for life’s changes benefits individuals.

 

Q. How do we encourage people to start planning for their later years earlier?

 

Q. What are the best ways to facilitate older people’s decision making and planning for the future?

 

 

Submissions to the Panel need to be received before 30 October 2011 to be considered.

 

Mail submissions to:

The Secretariat

Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians

The Treasury

Langton Crescent

PARKES ACT 2600

 

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

The first report, Realising the economic potential of senior Australians: changing face of society, can be found at http://www.treasury.gov.au/EPSA/content/publications.asp.

 

26 August 2011.