Australia’s demographic time-bomb in which an ever-growing proportion of older people rely on welfare in later life, is not inevitable and need not be the threat to prosperity widely predicted, according to a new study released on Thursday.
The progressive policy think tank Per Capita has proposed a series of image-changing initiatives aimed at adding a fourth P of policy to the three Ps normally discussed in economy and budget deliberations about the future: population, participation, and productivity.
The body says declining taxation revenue as a result of population ageing is a constant feature of Australia’s economic debates which “feeds into the narrative presenting ageing as a threat and a burden on our society”.
Its report “Spaces for All Ages” aims to redress an ageist bias in discussion by focusing on policy development towards improved “economic participation by older Australians”.
Among its proposals are “a network of local jobs hubs” to place older Australians in jobs in their local community, to be called the SilverStart Employment Network.
“This is based on a model of jobs hubs rolled out in Japan over the last thirty years which has been successful in lifting mature-age labour force participation, with over 800,000 members across 1600 centres,” Per Capita research fellow, Emily Millane, said.
Also suggested is a public art prize focusing on ageing and participation, and an additional class in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards specifically for ‘older adult fiction’ as a counter-balance to the existing category of young adult fiction.
The move to make the economy and society more grey-friendly would even extend to urban planning and aesthetics with an emphasis on “regenerating green spaces to create urban environments conducive to social participation by older Australians”.
“Green spaces like parks and gardens are identified in the World Health Organisation’s Age-Friendly Cities as one of eight elements of an age-friendly city,” Ms Millane said.
The report aims to kickstart a more sophisticated policy debate about longer more productive and engaged lives which are better for individuals, communities, and the broader economy.
It comes as the government prepares to unveil its second budget after proposing last year that pensions be indexed at a lower rate from 2017 prompting a widespread backlash from voters.
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