3Rs – Rights, Roadblocks, Resilience: A challenge to ageism

Action needs to be taken to ensure older women are consulted about key policy decisions that affect their lives.

A forum to be held at NSW Parliament House in August will look at ways to empower women and ensure they are getting a say in these decisions.

The recent appointment of the Hon. Susan Ryan AO as the Age Discrimination Commissioner has gone some way to addressing this issue but more needs to be done.

There remains a number of facts about older women in NSW that demand attention:

  • Age discrimination starts as early as 45 in many jobs
  • Many women who are single, older and private renters are at risk of homelessness
  • Violence and emotional abuse affect a significant minority of older women but is rarely recognised
  • Women’s unpaid housework and caring are not counted in national economic data
  • A majority of women aged over 65 have no superannuation – the age pension is their sole income.

“We need positive steps to overcome discrimination in areas such as jobs, health, incomes, housing and community attitudes,” says Sonia Laverty, Chairperson of the Older Women’s Network (OWN).

So OWN in collaboration has brought together a number of speakers and panellists to figure out what those steps should be. Ms Ryan will be joined by the Hon. Andrew Constance, MP, NSW Minister for Ageing; Professor Barbara Pocock of Adelaide; Elisabeth Wynhausen, journalist and researcher and Larke Riemer, Director, Women’s Markets, Westpac Banking Corporation to discuss the three themes of the forum – Rights, Roadblocks, Resilience.

The speakers will identify the negative impact of ageism and recognise older women’s potential.

The issue has clearly hit a nerve with the community with an overwhelming response to the forum with all spaces filled and a waiting list started up.

But, says OWN Coordinator Beth Eldridge, this shouldn’t stop women coming on board with their stories, and contributing towards a new set of demands for the enforcement of Human Rights of Older Women in Australia.

OWN will ultimately be putting this set of demands to the UN and would appreciate all the feedback, stories, experiences and contributions they can get. If you would like to contribute you can contact OWN on info@ownnsw.org.au

“It is important to recognise the potential of older women to live active, creative lives,” says Ms Laverty. I don’t think anyone could argue with that.

OWN would welcome your contribution today!


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