Marlene Krasovitsky is currently the Campaign Director, Older Australians, with The Benevolent Society (TBS). Prior to joining TBS in September 2016, Marlene was the Director of Willing to Work, the National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). This Inquiry was led by The Hon. Susan Ryan AO, former Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner.
The Willing to Work Inquiry held over 120 consultations in metropolitan, regional and remote locations to speak with older people and people with disability about their experiences of employment discrimination and their ideas for change. The Inquiry also engaged extensively with employers and business associations to better understand the barriers and opportunities, and to gather evidence of good practice.
Prior to the Willing to Work National Inquiry, Marlene was the Director of Research with the AHRC’s Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force, and subsequent Cultural Reform Program, supporting Elizabeth Broderick AO, former Sex Discrimination Commissioner.
Marlene has worked in Commonwealth and State Government in a range of executive, policy and operational roles and also worked on the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW.
Marlene is currently undertaking PhD studies with the School of Government, University of Sydney. Marlene holds an Executive Masters of Public Administration (ANZSOG), a Masters of Business Administration (University of Technology, Sydney) and is a registered psychologist.
Ageism and (un)employment – individual, social and economic impacts
This paper will address the various faces of ageism particularly within the specific context in which many people identify and experience ageism, looking for work and at work.
Ageism is endemic and often internalised. It can cause us to accept discriminatory practices as natural, normal or inevitable. In the labour market this can mean accepting discriminatory recruitment practices, tolerating promotion or training policies that fail to offer opportunities to older people because of assumptions they are close to retirement, or accepting downsizing or restructuring practices that target older workers.
Ageist assumptions and stereotypes like older people don’t need to work, are slow to learn new things, are rigid or are a workplace health and safety risk, underpin exclusionary behaviours. The outcomes of these assumptions and behaviours can include involuntary early retirement, unemployment, underemployment and social exclusion.i
These in turn have flow on effects for:
- individuals – including poor health outcomes, exclusion, income insecurity and poverty
- societies – including fragmentation and intergenerational conflict
- workforces – including lack of diversity and loss of corporate memory and experience
- economies – including the loss of productivity and tax revenues as well as increased reliance on social welfare and health systems.
This paper will cover the different impacts of ageism on individuals, society and economies with specific reference to the Australian context. It will also highlight the intersectional nature and impacts of ageism and explore why reporting rates of age discrimination are low.
The paper will draw on the first national prevalence survey of age discrimination in Australia, a recent national inquiry into employment discrimination against older Australians, and draw on labour market data to demonstrate the impacts of ageism.
There are many examples of good practice where employers recognise the demographics of their workforces, the risk to business of losing cohorts of workers and the value of diversity to productivity and customer engagement. Such employers have developed innovative and
i Australian Human Rights Commission, Willing to Work: Report of the National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination against Older Australians and Australians with Disability, at https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/disability-rights/projects/willing-work-national-inquiry-employment-discrimination-against
effective attraction, recruitment, retention strategies. The recurring themes underpinning these approaches will be presented and some good practice examples will be showcased.
The paper will also include current campaigning efforts being undertaken in Australia in order to address ageism and its impacts.