2.85 Removing legal barriers to mature age participation in paid and other productive work may have a range of effects, including upon the economy, social inclusion and in relation to compliance with international obligations.
2.86 Various estimates have been made of the economic effect of increased labour force participation by mature age persons.
2.87 The Intergenerational Report 2010 projects that an ageing population will bring with it a slowing of economic growth. The Report notes that, ‘as the proportion of the population of traditional working age falls, the rate of labour force participation across the whole population is projected to fall’.
2.88 In addition, there will be increased government spending associated with age-related payments and services. Spending on health is also projected to increase in the future, a result of the combination of technological advances in health care and demand for higher quality health services. The projected effect of ageing and health pressures is that spending is expected to exceed revenue (creating a ‘fiscal gap’) by 2.75% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2050.
2.89 Increased labour force participation by mature age persons will potentially narrow or close this projected fiscal gap. For example, increasing the participation rate of persons aged 50–69 by 10% by 2050 would increase real GDP and real GDP per capita by 2.4%.
2.90 However, as noted above, increased participation in paid work by mature age persons will have an impact on ability to undertake unpaid care work and voluntary work.
2.91 Reducing impediments to mature age participation in paid and other productive work may also promote social inclusion. The Australian Government defines a socially inclusive society as one where persons have the resources, opportunities and capability to:
Learn by participating in education and training;
Work by participating in employment, in voluntary work and in family and caring;
Engage by connecting with people and using their local community’s resources; and
Have a voice so they can influence decisions that affect them.
2.92 Participation in paid work can be seen as an indicator of social inclusion, promoting financial security as well as social connectedness.
2.93 Participation in other productive work is also an element of a socially inclusive society. Caring may be considered as a form of participation, and an indicator of social inclusion. For example, the OECD has argued that the provision of care for grandchildren by grandparents is ‘vital in buttressing intergenerational solidarity’.
2.94 However, responsibilities to provide care may also limit choices and the ability to take up opportunities in other spheres of participation, such as paid work. Carers Tasmania has argued that:
Carers contribute greatly to the wellbeing and social inclusion of the people they care for, but this contribution often disadvantages the carer as the time and the cost of providing care becomes a barrier which prevents social participation.
2.95 Additionally, persons providing unpaid care face significant financial disadvantage, considered an indicator of social exclusion. Hill, Thomson and Cass argue that ‘questions of choice and agency in the taking on of caring roles’ must be a key part of considering the social inclusion of carers.
2.96 Removing legal barriers that limit the ability of mature age persons to combine paid work and care, or to move between work and care, will promote social inclusion by enabling a more ‘genuine’ choice between forms of participation and support continued workforce attachment.
2.97 Removing barriers to mature age participation in voluntary work may also promote social inclusion. Warburton notes that:
research shows that some of the indirect benefits contributed by older people also include helping to build positive inter-generational relationships, helping other older people to remain living in the community, and maintaining and promoting cultural diversity. In all of these ways, volunteers can be said to add social value to society and to their communities.
2.98 When conducting an Inquiry, the ALRC is directed to have regard to ‘all of Australia’s international obligations that are relevant to the matter’.
2.99 Such international instruments do not become part of Australian law until incorporated into domestic law by statute. However, as the High Court in Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh has stated, a convention can assist with the interpretation of domestic law:
The provisions of an international convention to which Australia is a party, especially one which declares universal fundamental rights, may be used by the courts as a legitimate guide in developing the common law.
2.100 No specific human rights convention safeguards the rights of older persons. However, older persons are protected equally with other persons by the core international human rights treaties.
2.101 Relevantly for this Inquiry, these include the right to work and to the enjoyment of just and favourable conditions of work in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The ICESCR also prescribes rights to social security, to an adequate standard of living and to enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
2.102 Human rights treaties also provide protection from discrimination. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) affirms that ‘all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law’. The ICESCR commits States Parties to the Covenant to guarantee that the rights contained within it be exercised without discrimination of any kind.
2.103 While not having the same legal status as a convention, a number of other international instruments set out rights and protections for older persons. Of particular importance are the United Nations Principles for Older Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1991. Included among these are the principles that older persons should:
have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income-generating opportunities;
be able to participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labour force takes place;
remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations;
be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community and to serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities;
be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential; and
be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.
2.104 Removing legal barriers to participation in paid and other productive work may promote compliance with Australia’s international obligations in relation to the rights of older persons.
 The Treasury, Intergenerational Report 2010—Australia to 2050: Future Challenges (2010), ix.
 Ibid, x.
 Ibid. This projected fiscal gap was revised downwards from 3.25% in the 2007 Intergenerational Report.
 Ibid, 29–30, 121–22; R Chomik and J Piggott, Mature-Age Labour Force Participation: Trends, Barriers, Incentives, and Future Potential (2012), Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research Briefing Paper 2012/01, 1.
 Australian Government, The Social Inclusion Agenda, <www.socialinclusion.gov.au/> at 21 March 2013.
 OECD Meeting on Social Policy, Paying for the Past, Providing for the Future: Intergenerational Solidarity (2011). It is part of a ‘two-way flow’ in which older family members care for younger family members and vice versa.
 T Hill, C Thomson and B Cass, ‘Social Inclusion and the Intersection of Care and Employment’ (Paper presented at Brotherhood of St Laurence Care, Social Inclusion and Citizenship Symposium, Melbourne, 25 October 2010).
 Carers Tasmania, Social Inclusion and Carers in Tasmania: A Carers Tasmania Position Paper (2009).
 Australian Human Rights Commission, Investing in Care: Recognising and Valuing Those Who Care, Research Report Volume 1 (2013), 30.
 T Hill, C Thomson and B Cass, ‘Social Inclusion and the Intersection of Care and Employment’ (Paper presented at Brotherhood of St Laurence Care, Social Inclusion and Citizenship Symposium, Melbourne, 25 October 2010), 8.
 J Warburton, Volunteering by Older People: The Benefits and Challenges for Seniors and for Organisations: Latest Research Evidence (2012), 3.
Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth) s 24(2).
Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs v Teoh (1995) 183 CLR 273, 288.
 The core treaties are: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, ATS 23 (entered into force on 23 March 1976); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 16 December 1966, ATS 5 (entered into force on 3 January 1976); the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 7 March 1966, ATS 40 (entered into force on 4 January 1969); the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 18 December 1979, ATS 9 (entered into force on 3 September 1981); the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 10 December 1984, ATS 21 (entered into force on 26 June 1987); the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 13 December 2006, ATS 12 (entered into force on 3 May 2008); and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, ATS 4 (entered into force on 2 September 1990).
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 16 December 1966, ATS 5 (entered into force on 3 January 1976) arts 6, 7.
 Ibid, arts 9, 11, 12.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, ATS 23 (entered into force on 23 March 1976) art 26.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 16 December 1966, ATS 5 (entered into force on 3 January 1976) art 2(2). Neither the ICCPR nor the ICESCR list age as a specifically proscribed ground of discrimination alongside enumerated grounds including race, sex, language or religion. However, both Covenants prohibit discrimination on the basis of ‘other status’. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has suggested that the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of ‘other status’ could be interpreted as applying to age. It comments that the range of matters in relation to which such age discrimination can be accepted is very limited: Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No 6: The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Older Persons (8 December 1995), 13th sess, UN Doc E/1996/22, .
 United Nations, United Nations Principles for Older Persons—adopted by General Assembly resolution 46/91 of 16 December 1991.
 Ibid, principle 2.
 Ibid, principle 3.
 Ibid, principle 7.
 Ibid, principle 8.
 Ibid, principle 15.
 Ibid, principle 18.