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Occupational Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Committee: Work, Health and Safety and Workers

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:25:07): In rising to support this report, I realise that I am the exception to the rule and I am lucky enough to still be working, despite having turned 80 on Monday. People often ask me why I am still working. My response is always, 'Why not?' I enjoy what I do and I am fortunate enough to be in a position which supports me so that I can continue to work effectively. However, this is often not the case with other workplaces.

The global financial crisis resulted in some people being unable to retire, or worse, being forced to return to work after retirement, due to a lack of return on investments. Jobless workers over 55 are often unemployed for long periods, either due to the stigma of being older or because they had entered retirement. Long periods of unemployment is often unattractive to employers, yet without older workers in the workplace the burden on the social services can be higher. Workplaces need to be flexible to accommodate older workers. Older workers are often stereotyped to be mentally slower, less creative and less productive which employers believe will only cost them time, resources and, ultimately, money.

However, this is far from the truth, as older workers are often creative as they have learnt to resolve problems without modern technology. They have priceless life experience and are generally more loyal to employers than younger counterparts. Whilst older workers may need a little more support at the beginning, many employers will find that the trade-off is well worth it. Undoubtedly, as the population continues to age, this will continue to be an issue which will need attention as time goes by.

I want to thank the committee members and staff, Ms Sue Sedivy and Peter Knapp, for their work on this matter. I commend the report to honourable members.

Motion carried.

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