Age barriers to work enews | Issue 5

Issue 5 | 8 August 2012  View original format

Month in summary

Since the last e-newsletter, the Age Barriers team have been busy with a further round of consultations —in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart— as well as reading and analysing submissions received in response to the Grey Areas Issues Paper (not, as Associate Professor Rimmer quipped on Twitter, to be confused with another publication enjoying widespread circulation at the moment…)

We would like to thank everyone who made a submission in response to the Issues Paper. We received 59 submissions in all, from a range of organisations and individuals. These submissions can be viewed on the ALRC website.

The Age Barriers team have recently attended events relevant to the Inquiry. On 12–13 July, team members attended the Australian Colloquium of Superannuation Researchers. ALRC President, Professor Rosalind Croucher presented at the colloquium. On 2 August, Professor Croucher and Legal Officer Amanda Alford attended and presented at a travel insurance roundtable as part of the Insurance Reform Advisory Group. On 15 August, Professor Croucher and Legal Officer Dr Julie MacKenzie, will be attending the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-service Matters (PMAC) meeting at Parliament House to discuss issues of particular interest to veterans. Professor Croucher is also presenting at the National Employment Services Association (NESA) National Conference in late August. 

The Discussion Paper is on its way

We plan to publish the Discussion Paper (DP) for the Age Barriers Inquiry at the end of next month – late September. The DP will be a more detailed document than the Issues Paper – bringing together the ALRC’s own research and stakeholder input from submissions and consultations. It will include draft recommendations for reform as well as a few more questions.

With the release of the DP, we will call for a new round of submissions. The closing date for submissions will be mid November, so please allow time for this in your schedule. We will, of course, let you know via this e-news as soon as the DP is published.

Other reviews relevant to Age Barriers

Review of Federal Workers’ Compensation Scheme

On 24 July 2012, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations announced a review of the federal workers’ compensation scheme, in particular the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (Cth). Mr Shorten says the aim of the review is to modernise the federal workers’ compensation scheme.  The review will be undertaken by Mr Peter Hanks QC and Dr Allan Hawke AC, supported by a Secretariat in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The review will inquire and report on any legislative anomalies and updates that need to be addressed and the performance of the Comcare scheme and ways to improve its operation. The Terms of Reference include ‘ensuring the application of workers’ compensation legislation does not disadvantage workers over the age of 65 and there is no gap between the workers’ compensation age limit and the foreshadowed increase to the age pension eligibility age to 67 by 2023’. The ALRC welcomes this inclusion, in part as it builds on a potential option for reform raised in the Issues Paper.

It is expected that the review will report to the Government in February 2013.

Fair Work Act Review

On 2 August 2012, the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, released the Fair Work Act Review Panel’s final report, Towards more productive and equitable workplaces: An evaluation of the Fair Work legislation.

The key recommendations of potential relevance to the Age Barriers Inquiry include that:

  • the right of employees to request flexible working arrangements should be extended to employees with a wider range of caring and other circumstances; 
  • a range of changes should be made to individual flexibility arrangements in order to make them more accessible and transparent; and
  • some changes should be made to the general protections provisions.

The Government is currently considering the report, and will respond in due course.

Inquiry into the adequacy of the allowance payment system 

The Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committees is conducting an inquiry into the adequacy of the allowance payment system for jobseekers and others, the appropriateness of the allowance payment system as a support into work and the impact of the changing nature of the labour market. Submissions closed on 03 August 2012, and can be viewed online. The reporting date is 1 November 2012.