Archives for posts with tag: department of ageing

There is a major issue among young women (and some young men who support them!) currently in Australia as they have discovered that the GST applies to feminine hygiene products but not to parallel men’s products. Treasurers from all our States and Territories (largely, if not completely, male) met last week to discuss financial matters and this matter was raised. No decision was taken. It’s only a small issue (except if you are a woman living below the poverty level) but should (a) not be a problem in the first place in the sense that the GST should never have been applied and (b) is yet another example of the sexist society we live in. It is only a small tax but when you add these small issues together for individuals they add up to cost and discrimination. They follow on immediately from the fact that women are not fully represented at so many levels and in so many areas, not least of which is the area of governance. We only have 2 women in the Government Cabinet, the parliamentary governing body.

So what has this got to do with ageing? Three of us ‘oldies’ went along to a rally to protest against this tax just to show our support for the discrimination they were fighting. One of the older women began to wonder if there was the same discriminatory tax on similar garments for older people. Considering that 1 in 3 older people suffer from incontinence and many are living in poverty, this becomes a big issue at least for them. It is a debilitating problem for sufferers without concerns about affordability. The next problem we had was to find out if this tax does apply to these items. A quick search on the internet was unhelpful; obviously it needed more expertise than we had. Even if we discovered that it does exist then who would help us to fight the battle ahead? We have two major organisation in Australia which purport to represent older people (and are given huge government grants to pursue this) but the trouble is that they don’t believe in employing older people so they are unaware of many of the problems which affect this age group. The government thinks that it is doing the right thing and looking after older people by giving grants to these groups but older people’s needs are often not addressed.

The ageing population is a huge problem, as the government and society is well aware, but it will continue to be so, and increasingly so, unless our voices are genuinely heard. The present system isn’t working but how we bring about change is hard to work out. Meanwhile we continue the struggle to be heard, at increasing cost to ourselves, our lifestyles and cost to the countries we live in. When will we get intelligent government?

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.