I have heard lots about “Australia’s aging population” lately. So what does it all mean?
Well, Australians are living longer. We are more health conscious. We are waking up to the damaging effects of smoking, bad diets and travelling in a car without a seatbelt, yes that’s true.
In Australia, we value “life”.
I found this statistic in “The Blueprint For an Aging Australia.” The Blueprint is the report of AN Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing. The panel exists to review the opportunities and challenges associated with an ageing Australia.
Here it is….
The numbers of older people will increase rapidly because of the large wave of baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1965) who will turn 65 between 2011 and 2031. The number of over 65s will increase by 84.8 per cent, from 3.1 million in 2011 to 5.7 million in 2031.
Whoaaaaa! 84.8% increase. That is huge, crazy and a little concerning.
Another paragraph from the blueprint says ”Longer lives are one of a handful of major forces that are reshaping our society in the first decades of the 21st century, along with greater gender equality, less secure work and growing economic competition from Asia.”
That sentence must have the government taking notice. As people age, chances are they will also become carers. They may care for a spouse or many younger working age people, will become carers for their parents. This is happening NOW.
The blueprint makes many recommendations and is ultimately, based on the reality that ageing isn’t something that happens to other, older people, it happens to all of us and it is in all our interests to make it a more positive experience for everyone.
This is an exciting time for carers.
Carers have struggled physically, emotionally and financially, for long enough. Many carers and people on the disability support pension are living in poverty. The government income support payments are just not enough to survive with the rising cost of living.
Many carers have been excluded from work opportunities due to the limitations on government pensions along with the responsibilities of caring and inflexible working arrangements.
It is time for business, both large and small to take notice of how an aging population of carers will affect their bottom line. It is time for these corporations to see carers as valuable employees.
Carers possess many skills. We have excellent “can-do” attitudes. We have fantastic negotiating skills, can remain calm in an emergency, never give up, can adapt to any type of personality from specialists, therapists to an autistic children. We can research like demons (ask any parent who has just been given a diagnosis) and we are time management experts along with co-ordinating team members and projects. We do these things daily as carers.
However, we do have limitations. We will find it difficult to travel to a workplace. We will have limited hours to be in an office/workplace and may need time away from work to focus on our caring responsibility.
How can this work?
Today we live in a digital world. We have what we need at our fingertips instantly and we are connected all day, every day. Carers have a knack for getting shit done. No messing around, no excuses, just a practical, swift way, of getting the job done. We also have a massive need to work. We have extra expenses, or if we don’t, we could and would have, if we had the means to.
Flexible working is long overdue in Australia. Some businesses have embraced it, however many are still uncomfortable or unsure how to manage employees from a distance. To give you an idea of how beneficial flexible working can be to a business, organisations have reported high staff morale, increased employee satisfaction, a reduction in unplanned absences, reduced operating costs and that’s just to name a few. These benefits, along with many more, equal to increased productivity and overall improve the bottom line.
If you are a carer or anyone who is thinking about approaching your employer to request flexible working, it is a good idea to outline these benefits in your proposal. I have written a Flexible Working Guide that will help you develop a proposal your boss will find hard to refuse. You can download and print it when you are ready to make your request.
Come on Australia, let’s change the rules around carer payments and work, and finally leverage from the digital world we live in and WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER.
By the looks of it, an aging population will force the change in the near future anyway.
P.S I would love to hear from you! Tell me about your experiences, if you want to work or if you already work in a flexible arrangement. The best information comes from other parents and carers, so thank you as always for sharing your stories.