Seniors and Ageing Minister Don Punch says this year’s Ageism Awareness Day presents an important opportunity to combat ageism in Australia by positively changing community attitudes.
Ageism is prejudice and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their age, with older persons often disadvantaged by ageism.
Raising awareness of ageism will support a growing social movement to shift attitudes towards older people.
Negative attitudes and stereotypes about older adults often frame them as being frail and dependent. These negative views fail to acknowledge the positive contributions of older people in our community.
A recent World Health Organisation study found that ageism seeps into many institutions and sectors of society including the workplace, media and the legal and care systems.
The same study found that ageism has serious and wide-ranging consequences for people’s health and wellbeing.
Among older people, ageism is associated with poorer physical and mental health, increased social isolation and loneliness, greater financial insecurity, decreased quality of life and premature death.
The recent consultation process for the development of the first WA Seniors Strategy found that ageism was a concern among older people in Western Australia, and that they would like to see it addressed in the community. Further information on the Seniors Strategy can be found on the Department of Communities website.
As stated by Seniors and Ageing Minister Don Punch:
“I’ve met so many Western Australians who have really been hurt by ageism. We need to remember that one day we’ll all grow older, but will still deserve the same respect as younger people.
“Ageism is, quite simply, a form of prejudice – and on that basis alone it should not be tolerated.
“Unfortunately, ageism is commonplace, widely accepted, and even considered normal in many cultures and societies.
“It is a form of prejudice that too often goes unchallenged.
“I would encourage people to check in with their own attitudes towards ageing, at their workplace, in their day-to-day lives, and perhaps even within their own families.
“Here in Western Australia, an enormous amount of work is being done to push back on negative stereotypes of older people, but there’s always more that can be done.
“We have a great opportunity for this growing cohort to make meaningful contributions to the communities in which they live, but some stereotypes that surround older people act as a barrier to them participating fully.
“The State Government is committed to supporting seniors to live the best life of their choosing, through making their own decisions and living independently for as long as possible.”