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45 Years Old - The Age Of Injustice

Most of us think 45 isn't really old and it's strange to call them older workers. But, according to the Australian National Congess on Ageing, bosses are unfairly disadvantaging older people. John Howard reports.

Workers aged 45 were now viewed as old by prejudiced employers an Australian conference was told last night.

Delegates to the Older Australians: A Working Future? conference heard researchers describe age discrimination in the workplace as "rampart" even though it was outlawed in Australia - as it is in New Zealand.

New research has found: Some companies such as fast-food outlets believed workers who turned twenty were "too old" and replaced them with teenagers - Women over fifty were called "granny" - People over fourty were omitted from training in new information technology - and people over fifty were seeking work in larger numbers.

Older workers also tended to be unemployed longer, researchers said.

Researcher Dr Don Edgar of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology said, "Many employers thought mature-aged workers were less productive, less creative, and less intelligent. But there was no evidence to support such myths."

A 1996 study also found employers who were recruiting believed older workers were absent more often, were more accident-prone and had memory problems and declining intelligence.

But Dr Edgar said "Research showed none of these stereotypes were borne out by fact. The crucial thing is that employers hold these attitudes."

Federal Aged Care Minister, Bronwyn Bishop, said: "Drake International research showed that 60 percent of 500 executives polled, preferred to employ people in their 30's. While only one in five employers hired new workers in their 40's or older."

The conference also heard that age stereotyping forces older workers out of the workforce and will have a serious impact on the working-age population's ability to support society's future services and infrastructure. A breakdown is inevitable but government's appear unconcerned because once an older person stops looking for work they are no longer counted as unemployed.

Age 45 is now being described as the age of injustice.


ends

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