Age discrimination affecting all adults

Melissa Meehan
(Australian Associated Press)


Age may be just a number, but the majority of Australians will experience ageism in their lives.

A report by the Australian Human Rights Commission sought to dig deeper into the question: What’s age got to do with it?

It was undertaken in 2020 and 2021 and found ageism was experienced in different ways.

For young adults, aged 18-39, they experienced ageism as being condescended to or ignored; mostly at work.

Middle-aged people were usually turned down for a job, and those over 60 experienced ageism as being ‘helped’ without being asked.

The research found eight key findings including:

  • Ageism exists in Australia – even if we are not consciously aware of it
  • Ageism affects Australians across the adult life-span
  • Young adults are seen as attractive, but bad at managing their finances
  • Middle-aged people are seen as being in the prime of their lives, but stressed

Age Discrimination Commissioner Kay Patterson says ageism is arguably the least understood discriminatory prejudice, with evidence suggesting it is more socially accepted than sexism or racism.

She called on all Australians to challenge ageist attitudes.

“Age is not the problem. Ageism is,” Dr Patterson said.

The report, released on Tuesday, included a national survey of 2440 people, 11 focus groups and an examination of existing Australian and international research.


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