Human Rights and Older People

May 31, 2009

Human rights are relevant for everyone, and they are important for older people.  The law provides that we are all entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without discrimination of any kind, including discrimination on the basis of our age.

Some of the major human rights problems faced by older people in Australia include:

  • workplace discrimination;
  • balancing paid work with caring responsibilities;
  • access to appropriate and adequate aged care facilities and health care;
  • abuse – including financial, physical and psychological abuse of elderly people;
  • homelessness, poor living standards and dependency on social security payments;
  • barriers in accessing government services and other opportunities to participate in community/public life.

There are limited human rights protections for older people at the moment.  However, if you feel you have been discriminated against because of your age, you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission under the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth).  There are limited protections under this Act for age discrimination for the following:

  1. voluntary bodies – in regard to membership, benefits, facilities and services;
  2. where the discrimination occurs as a result of direct compliance with certain other laws (ie taxation and superannuation).
  3. relatives and people who are carers of older people. (adapted from Australian Human Rights Commission information sheet)
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