Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist June 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
She said an interesting aspect of the
IGR was that it pointed out the big
increase in health expenditure would
not be expenditure on very old people
but expenditure on diagnostics and
procedures, and people want those at
‘ They don’t want these only when they
are very old, they want them at all ages.
People who are working at any age are
heathier and happier. So if we open the
labour market to those who want to
work this is another way of preserving
their health,’ she said.
Swinburne’s Katharine Betts points to
the need to reverse the debate about
‘If I could give a message to our leaders
it is that in the overarching picture
of ageing it’s in the early years of
life, during infancy, that everyone is
dependent on the system – dependent
on everyday care,’ she said.
‘By definition dependence means
people who need help with core
activities of self care, mobility and
communication. If you think of the drain
on other people’s labour then babies
and toddlers fit this description.
‘I am not saying children are a drag but
if you are looking at what ties up people
who otherwise might be in the labour
force and earning money and paying
tax, then it’s children.
‘So the core benefit of an ageing
population is that more human
resources are not going to be tied up
in the unavoidable labour for caring for
the young. With an ageing population
we have extra resources and how we
use them is the key and depends on our
imagination and our capacity to provide
In her paper, The ageing of the Australian
population: triumph or disaster? prepared
for the Monash Centre for Population and
Urban Research last year, she pointed to
the statistics showing that in 2012, 49% of
children receiving childcare were looked
after by their grandparents, and in 2003
more than twice as many children lived
with their grandparents as lived with
‘Australians aged 65 plus also play a
major role in looking after people with
disabilities; between 19 and 21% of them
act as carers for someone with a disability,
usually a family member. This is in
comparison to 14% of people aged 18 to
64 who acted as carers,’ she wrote.
‘Older people also volunteer in
organisations outside the family; in
2010 33% of those aged 65 to 84 worked
as volunteers as did 12% of those aged
‘An older age structure has many benefits.
Besides, the only way to avoid it on a
long‐term basis is to have large families
and die young. We have tried hard to
escape from this way of life and, now that
we have, we can reap the benefits.
‘Frantic efforts to make Australia younger
by making it bigger are no more rational
than a middle‐aged person trying to look
younger by gaining 40 kilos.
‘ There may be some clouds over our
demographic future — no real story has a
totally happy ending. But the prospect of
long life and stability is far more pleasing
than either a return to the nineteenth
century or a journey to an overcrowded
future blighted by demographic obesity.
‘An older age structure is no disaster.
Like other advances in human wellbeing,
it is one of our triumphs.’
National Seniors Australia Chief Executive
Officer, Michael O’Neill, echoes many
of these sentiments while admitting
there has been ‘a lot of gloom and doom
‘We need to celebrate the opportunities
this cohort presents. We are seeing
a major shift in demographics as
older Australians become much more
significant consumers of goods and
services than historically they have been.
They will be driving change in all kinds of
areas and we have to acknowledge that,’
‘A number of big employers in the
hospitality and retail industry see that their
needs in the decade ahead will be much
more influenced by older Australians as this
cohort becomes a much more significant
part of their market.’
Mr O’Neill said some companies were
responding positively by hiring more
people in the older age group so they can
deal with older customers an some were
also reviewing layouts of premises to
make them more suitable and accessible
for older consumer.
‘Driving that change is a starting point.
Recognising there will be an older cohort
that will be much larger and in the
decades ahead much wealthier is another
important starting point,’ Mr O’Neill said.
‘ That market‐place power will be the
big driver rather than any government
regulation which tends not to do any
good for anybody.
‘We have to look after the older workforce
as well. There still remains a preference
to look at a birth certificate rather than
a resume and that is the case even for
people in their 50s. We have to get to it
right for people in their 50s so there is
suitable employment at that age so they
can progress to their sixties and even
up to 70.
‘ The harsh reality is that if you are out of
work in your 50s you are unlikely to get
another job and end up on welfare.’
“...no more rational than a middle-aged person
trying to look younger by gaining 40 kilos.”
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