News : Article

Commission releases 'Willing to Work' report

Graphic: 'Willing to Work' report cover

Too many older people and people with disability are denied jobs because of discrimination based on age or disability.

Too many older people and people with disability are denied jobs because of discrimination based on age or disability, according to a national report by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

At the launch of Willing To Work, Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan warned that people in their 50s who lose their jobs face decades of unemployment.

"While people aged 55 years and over make up roughly a quarter of the population, they only make up 16% of the total Australian workforce," said Commissioner Ryan.

She said almost 74% of Australians aged 55–59 had jobs last year, but this dropped to 56.5% of 60–64 year olds, and fell to just 12.7% of people over 65.

"This sharp decline cannot be allowed to continue," said Commissioner Ryan.

"The number of over 65s will double by 2055, when life expectancy will be well over 90 for both men and women. Without the changes we recommend, people who lose their jobs in their 50s may live up to another forty years without paid employment."

Commissioner Ryan said people with disability also experienced a significant level of discrimination in employment.


Many highly skilled individuals are being shut out of work because of underlying assumptions, stereotypes or myths associated with their age or their disability.

Australian Human Rights Commission Logo Susan Ryan, Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner

Key recommendations from the Willing to Work report include:

  • Establishing a Minister for Longevity;
  • Developing national action plans to address employment discrimination and lift the labour force participation of older people and people with disability;
  • Expanding the role of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency to become the Workplace Gender Equality and Diversity Agency;
  • Introducing national education campaigns to dispel myths and stereotypes about older people and people with disability
  • Adopting targets for employment and retention of older people and people with disability in the public service.

The Willing to Work report also recommends improvements to existing laws and policies and presents a suite of strategies for businesses and employers to improve employment of people with disability and older people.

Date: 2 May 2016

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. 'Willing to Work' report cover - Australian Human Rights Commission