Zali Steggall MP speaks on age discrimination in the workplace

27 March 2023

I rise to speak on behalf of Warringah constituents experiencing age discrimination in employment recruitment. The right to work is a fundamental human right and one that far too many older people in Australia do not enjoy. Australians in their 50s and 60s are enduring difficulty re-entering the workforce especially after taking time off work due to health or caring commitments, despite possessing all the experience skills necessary.

I have met with constituents who are accomplished in their fields of work however they are now experiencing age and health discrimination upon seeking new employment. One constituent I met with firmly believes her job applications are rejected due to the compulsory date of birth question on many job application forms. This has impacted considerably her well-being and sense of purpose. Another constituent had to stop working throughout a cancer journey. Alarmingly, he was also deemed ineligible for income support or NDIS during this time. Illness meant he could not earn an income and now he is struggling to return to work now that he is well enough and that is not uncommon.

Australian human resources Institute survey found over 26% of organisations say they definitely or probably have an age above which they are reluctant to recruit, and that age is falling. Government needs to ensure older people seeking work don’t fall through the gaps and are not discriminated upon on the basis of their age.