In December 2020, the United Nations declared the Decade of Healthy Ageing 2021-2030. The Department of Communities supports this declaration.
The Decade of Healthy Ageing is a chance for governments, civil society, international agencies, professionals, academia, the media, and the private sector to work together to improve the lives of older people, their families, and their communities.
The Decade of Healthy Ageing addresses four action areas:
- Age-friendly environments (for more information, visit the Age-Friendly Communities page)
- Combatting ageism
- Integrated care
- Long term care.
According to key findings from the Australian Human Rights Commission, 35 per cent of Australians aged 55 to 64 years old and 43 per cent of people aged 65 years and over have experienced age discrimination. It also found that:
- 71 per cent of Australians felt that age discrimination in Australia is common.
- The most common forms of discrimination experienced are: being turned down from an employment position; being ignored; being treated with disrespect; and being subjected to jokes about ageing.
- People who had experienced age discrimination felt a strong, negative emotional response, such as anger, sadness and worthlessness.
Age discrimination, or ageism, refers to how we think (stereotypes), how we feel (prejudice) and how we act (discrimination) towards people based on their age. Anyone can experience ageism at any point in their lives, however, in this situation we are focusing on ageism towards older people.
Ageism can be present in different ways:
- Institutionalised ageism – referring to the laws, social norms, policies and practices of institutions that restrict opportunities and disadvantage people based on age.
- Interpersonal ageism – this is ageism directed at other people – ‘that person is too old to dress/act/do things that way’ or insults based on age.
- Self-directed ageism – where ageism is internalised and directed at oneself. Think of all the times you may have said to yourself ‘I’m too old to take up a new hobby/job/study’.
Age discrimination, in particular self-directed ageism, can have detrimental impacts on a person’s overall health. It can also be associated with poor mental and physical health, social isolation and loneliness, financial insecurity, reduced quality of life and premature death.
In March 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released the Global Report on Ageism which outlined the nature, scale, impact, and determinants of ageism. It outlined three strategies which have been known to reduce ageism:
- Policies and laws can reduce ageism by making it a social norm that age discrimination is unacceptable, and reduce the behaviour by outlawing it.
- Educational interventions have shown to be effective at reducing ageism. It is based on the assumption that discrimination is a result of ignorance, mistaken information, misconceptions, and simplistic thinking.
- Intergenerational contact fosters relationships between generations through cross-generational bonding and understanding.
Alongside the report, WHO has also made available a Global Campaign to Combat Ageism Toolkit, which is a package of online resources for use by anyone that wishes to develop a campaign against ageism. The resources include short films, infographics, and static and animated media tiles.
The Elder Abuse Strategy
The Department of Communities is committed to ensuring that older Western Australians are respected and treated fairly as they age.
In November 2019, Communities released the WA Strategy to Respond to the Abuse of Older people (Elder Abuse) 2019-2029. It includes four priority areas, one of which is Prevention and Early Intervention. It includes the following strategies:
- 2.1: Promote positive views of ageing, and counter ageism in all its forms.
- 2.2: Recognise and celebrate older peoples’ contributions to the community.
International Day of Older Persons and the Digital Strategy
1 October 2021 marks the 31st International Day of Older Persons. It is a day to acknowledge the ageing population across the world and reflect on the ways that older adults contribute to wider society.
The theme for 2021 is Digital Equity for All Ages.
Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data on the use of information technology by older people reveals that:
- 1.4 million (38.4 per cent) older Australians (people aged 65 years and over) do not use the internet.
- 1 million (27.1 per cent) older people use social networking or chat rooms.
- Internet use generally decreases with age (74.5 per cent of those aged 65-74 years; 48.5 per cent of those aged 75-84 years; and 26.7 per cent of those aged 85 years and over).
- Common reasons why older Australians do not use the internet include: they have no need or interest; lack of confidence or knowledge in accessing the internet; and no access to a computer or mobile technology.
On 23 June 2021, Seniors and Ageing Minister Hon Don Punch MLA launched the Digital Strategy for the Western Australian Government 2021-2025: Convenient, smart and secure services for all Western Australians (the Digital Strategy).
One of the four key priorities of the Digital Strategy is making sure that all Western Australians can easily access and use digital technologies. The four key objectives are:
- Connect more Western Australians to quality internet services that are fit for purpose.
- Enable affordable access to digital devices, and quality internet services and data.
- Promote digital skills for Western Australians to confidently and safely use digital technologies to succeed.
- Promote technology, websites and apps that are inclusively designed.
Under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA), the WA Commissioner for Equal Opportunity can investigate and resolve complaints of age discrimination.
The Equal Opportunity Commission office is open to the WA general public, Monday to Friday. For more information, please visit the Equal Opportunity Commission website or phone (08) 9216 3900 or 1800 198 149.