2.127 A central theme that has emerged in the course of this Inquiry is the need for increased awareness and effective education and training about barriers to workforce participation for mature age persons, and the benefits of employing mature age workers. Both these elements are fundamental to ensuring that the employment law system is able to respond appropriately to address such barriers.
2.128 A range of bodies and reports have highlighted the prevalence of negative perceptions and stereotypes about mature age workers and age discrimination. For example, the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation reported that
Age discrimination in employment of mature age people arises from a combination of social perceptions and economic justifications but is usually justified in terms of productivity, whereby older people are stereotyped for having some assumed behaviours regardless of the individual’s actual conditions and characteristics.
2.129 The Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians noted that
negative views about older people can be based on generalisations and stereotypes. Stereotypes tend to group people together, taking away their individuality and diversity.
2.130 A key report produced by the Productive Ageing Centre and National Seniors outlined the impact of stereotype threats on mature age workers. It stated that
evidence shows that stereotypes relating to mature age workers are consistently negative, and apply across different occupations. These findings suggest that older adults are likely to be susceptible to stereotype threat in the workplace.
2.131 In May 2011, the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) was amended to create an office for an Age Discrimination Commissioner within the AHRC. The AHRC has been allocated funding to enable the Commissioner to undertake a project addressing the stereotyping of mature age persons including research, roundtables and community education and awareness activities to promote positive portrayal of mature age persons. The position of Age Discrimination Commissioner and this project mean the AHRC is most appropriately placed to lead and coordinate a national education and awareness campaign in support of the workforce participation of mature age persons. This type of approach was recommended by the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians.
2.132 The ALRC considers that a national campaign should be appropriately resourced, and be based on a coordinated whole-of-government approach involving all key stakeholders and participants in the employment law system, including: employees, employers, unions, employer organisations, government agencies and departments, and seniors organisations. The Age Discrimination Commissioner should coordinate the campaign and bodies such as unions, employer organisations, the FWO and Safe Work Australia should also play a key role. Anti-discrimination bodies should also play a role including through the publication of material such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s, publication, Mature-age Workers and the Equal Opportunity Act–Know Your Rights.
2.133 Stakeholders highlighted numerous examples of best practice in attracting, retaining and supporting mature age workers in industries across Australia which could be built upon and developed in the course of the campaign. The Australian Government has also taken a leading role in this area, for example through the Australian Public Service 200 Project which was ‘established to tackle barriers to a longer productive life of work in the APS’.
2.134 There are a range of initiatives that the ALRC suggests could usefully form part of the national education and awareness campaign, including:
education and training in workplaces around Australia, including of employees, employers, and their representatives;
development of guidelines and other resources, such as mature age employment strategies, to complement legislative or workplace entitlements;
establishment of best practice benchmarks;
posters, newsletters, factsheets, online information and advertisements;
material relating to redesign of work arrangements and processes; and
additional research and the development of an evidence base, including case studies.
Proposal 2–12 The Australian Human Rights Commission should coordinate a national education and awareness campaign in support of the workforce participation of mature age persons.
 See, eg, COTA, Submission 51.
 National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, Ageing and the Barriers to Labour Force Participation in Australia (2011), prepared for the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation, 17.
 Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians, Realising the Economic Potential of Senior Australians—Turning Grey into Gold (2011), 45.
 National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre, Stereotype Threat and Mature Age Workers (2011), prepared for National Seniors Australia, 3.
 Australian Government, Budget Measures 2012–13, Budget Paper No 2 (2012) Part 2 Expense Measures, ‘Economic Potential of Senior Australians—countering negative stereotypes and promoting positive media portrayal of older Australians’. In relation to creating positive attitudes see Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians, Realising the Economic Potential of Senior Australians—Turning Grey into Gold (2011), rec 35.
 Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians, Realising the Economic Potential of Senior Australians—Turning Grey into Gold (2011), rec 36: ‘The federal Age Discrimination Commissioner develop a community education and awareness campaign that identifies ageism and age discrimination and promotes positive images of ageing’.
 Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, ‘Mature-age Workers and the Equal Opportunity Act: Know Your Rights ’ (2012) .
 Australian Government, Investing in Experience Tool Kit (2012); Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Employ Outside the Box: The Rewards of a Diverse Workforce (2012); Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Corporate Champions <www.deewr.gov.au/
Employment/Programs/ExpPlus/Employers/Pages/CorporateChampions.aspx> at 13 September 2012; APS 200 referred to in Comcare, Submission 29.
 Comcare, Submission 29.
 Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians, Realising the Economic Potential of Senior Australians—Turning Grey into Gold (2011), rec 13: ‘The federal government engage peak employer and industry groups to assist individual employers to develop and implement older worker employment strategies, starting with a series of high profile seminars across the country’.
 See, eg, Comcare, Submission 29; JobWatch, Submission 25.