The Australian Government is advertising for staff to help shape its National Agenda for Health and Ageing. It wants people who are ‘experienced’ without any definition of what they mean by this. I expect they really mean people who are experienced public servants.
On two occasions I asked senior people from this Department how many older people they employed. One said she was embarrassed to say she didn’t know and the other said ‘not many as public servants tend to retire as soon as they can’.
It reminds me of the days when Departments concerned with women’s issues were staffed by men and those concerned with the disabled were staffed by able-bodied people. I hope these two situations no longer exist but I am pessimistic about the Department of Ageing.
I once had an interview with a couple of top people from this Department and showed them a list of words older people feel the rest of the population applies to them (ageism). It was put together by a group of older people. All of the words and phrases were derogatory. I’m sure the two people concerned didn’t believe me! I wonder what they think ageism is or are they trying to pretend it doesn’t exist?
If we are to have an intelligent, practical and efficient policy on ageing then these highly paid public servants need to make sure that they are advised by the real experts, older people themselves. Otherwise it’s as silly as men devising policy on women’s issues.
Some time ago a group of so-called experts was given the task of creating a paper on older people and the workforce. My understanding was that not one of the panel members was over 65. hardly surprising that the paper was not really relevant to older people and did not meet our needs.
Has the number of older employed people grown since the paper was published as this is the ultimate test of the accuracy of the findings?
The only way the ‘problem’ of our ageing population can be genuinely be addressed is to involve genuine older people i.e. those over 65.