This requires some consideration of access and flexibility - for people who only want to work a few hours a day, a few days a week, or work only during a particular season.
Improvements in healthcare and quality of life now mean that a person 'retiring' at 65- or indeed 67 in the future- will still expect to be active and engaged in the community for another two or three decades, but perhaps slowing down a little in some areas, and less keen to push themselves in others.
Many older Australians feel like they're just hitting their stride at this point in their lives, and know they still have some of their most productive years ahead of them.
To match the changing population, part-time and more flexible working conditions will become increasingly important - with semi-retired workers looking for an income that fits in with the vagaries of their superannuation plans, taxation arrangements and pension earnings thresholds. To provide these opportunities, workplaces need to think laterally to identify the kinds of tasks a mature workforce can really add value to.
We might also see increased demand for work which factors in lifestyle considerations - offering seasonal, part-time or project-based work. Issues around age discrimination in employment are something we will need to overcome and represent one of the biggest barriers for an ageing population.
We know it is already hard for older workers to find suitable employment. In the 2010/11 financial year, 33% of job seekers aged 55-64 years were unemployed for at least a year, which compares to a rate of just 13% among 15 to 24 year olds.
There are frequent misconceptions about older workers, but the reality is that with appropriate training, workplace structures and the right mindset, workplaces can be greatly enhanced. A good example of this is a workplace that restructures tasks around differing abilities - perhaps looking at how to combine mentoring and co-working arrangements, gaining the benefits of putting together age and experience with the energy and IT savvy of a younger generation.
Such opportunities can provide benefits to businesses, as well as allowing workers to deliver meaningful outcomes at work, and personal development in their own lives. Changes in the workplace and in the minds of employers need to be paired with changes to our health and welfare systems. Expanding national health initiatives to consider our future needs is an important part of this planning.
By investing in services which help people remain fit and healthy, we can contribute to an improved quality of life and help manage the increasing incidences of chronic diseases and hospital admissions. Accessible and coordinated medical treatments, which include provisions for mental and dental services, must be fundamental components of the health system we develop for the future.
The current welfare system has inbuilt disincentives to combine some work with income support. By building a more flexible system, people can be encouraged to undertake paid or voluntary work for longer periods of time.
We know that staying active and feeling valued can make a significant contribution to the health and well-being of our seniors. By re-prioritising our workplaces, health and welfare systems we can focus on keeping people well and encourage them to lead long, productive and meaningful lives.
Aged care providers are facing daily challenges to providing high quality services, adequately pay staff and undertake much needed infrastructure development. Delays to the reform process will only see these problems worsen. Reforms are needed in order to move on from the stop-gap legacy of previous Governments
The Australian Greens are committed to developing and resourcing aged care services to keep older Australians healthy and improve their quality of life.
We will continue to work hard with aged care providers and older Australians to see their needs are met into the future. We need to be proactive - to minimise future costs and deliver better outcomes and quality of life for ageing Australians.
During the 2010 election campaign, The Greens announced a plan plan advocates for an extra $127m to properly index aged care services, $390m investment in community care services to allow older Australians to stay in their homes and communities longer, $100m for better staff wages and conditions, $30m to better support family carers, and $20m for an urgent dementia research program.
This plan provides immediate assistance to the sector and brings about the reforms we need to cater for future needs.
The Greens' Aged Care for the Future policy also calls for:
- Increased funding and realistic indexation for aged care
- Increased funding and integration of community care
- Better wages and conditions for all aged care staff
- Greater support for informal and family care and for care volunteers
- Investment in dementia research
- A single national funder for all aged care services
- A consumer-directed funding model
- An Independent National Aged Care Authority