The Gillard Government has today received the first report from the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians (the Panel) that looks at how our nation can best harness the opportunities presented by a larger and more active community of older Australians.
This important work is about ensuring that we don't lose the valuable experience and skills of older Australians as they move into retirement, and that all seniors have the opportunity to stay involved in the community.
The Panel, chaired by Everald Compton and also including Professor Gill Lewin and Professor Brian Howe, has identified a number of themes from its public consultations including improving workforce participation, encouraging life-long learning and better planning for seniors' housing needs.
The report is designed to encourage debate around these and other issues, and the Panel invites further input from the community as it continues its deliberations.
Australians moving into their senior years are generally healthier, higher skilled and more financially secure than previous generations, providing a wider range of opportunities both for individual older Australians and for the broader community.
The proportion of Australians aged 65 or over will rise to about 23 per cent of the total population by 2050, compared to 14 per cent today.
This growing number of older Australians is changing the shape of our society, and bringing with it challenges, but we must not lose sight of the enormous benefits and opportunities that come with a larger and more active community of seniors.
Seniors are choosing to contribute to our community and our economy in many different ways; for example, caring for their parents or their grandchildren, volunteering through community groups, or continuing with paid work. In fact, the percentage of people over 55 in paid work has grown from around 24 per cent to 34 per cent in the last 10 years.
However seniors choose to contribute, it's more important than ever that we make the most of their potential across a range of policy areas and that we do everything we can to build strong attachments to the community.
The Panel has held public meetings in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth, with further meetings scheduled for Alice Springs, Armidale, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart and Sydney.