Published on 2 October 2012.

The Australian Law Reform Commission today released a Discussion Paper for its inquiry into legal barriers to older persons participating in the workforce and other productive work—Grey Areas: Age Barriers to Work in Commonwealth Laws (ALRC DP 78, 2012).

This inquiry was initiated as part of the Australian Government response to population ageing. The ALRC has been asked to consider Commonwealth legislation and related legal frameworks that either directly, or indirectly, impose limitations or barriers that could discourage older persons from participating, or continuing to participate, in the workforce or other productive work.

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher said “Following a national round of consultations and having received over 60 submissions to the questions contained in the Issues Paper, the Discussion Paper highlights ALRC thinking to date and puts forward proposals for law reform in the areas of recruitment and employment, work health and safety, insurance, social security, and superannuation. Reform in this area is complex and must address multifaceted and interrelated barriers to workforce participation. The ALRC is suggesting the need for a combination of legislative and regulatory reform, together with measures to increase education and awareness and address perceptions and stereotypes surrounding mature age workers.”

The ALRC invites individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to the 36 proposals and 15 questions in the Discussion Paper to assist the ALRC develop recommendations for reform.

Part-time Commissioner for the inquiry and Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon Susan Ryan AO said, “This discussion paper provides the public with an important opportunity to shape proposed reforms aimed at improving the financial and personal wellbeing of older Australians. I hope all organisations and individuals committed to these aims will read the paper and send us their views.”

The Discussion Paper may be downloaded free of charge from the ALRC website.  Hard copies may be obtained on request by contacting the ALRC.  Submissions can be made using the ALRC online submission form at www.alrc.gov.au/content/age-barriers-work-discussion-paper. Written submissions via post, fax or email are also accepted.

Closing date for submissions is Friday 23 November 2012.

For further information about the ALRC inquiry, or to subscribe to the Age Barriers e-news, visit www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/age-barriers-work.

The final Report is to be delivered to the Attorney-General of Australia by 31 March 2013.