30 May 2023
Australia is now grappling with a labour shortage across multiple sectors including health, aged care and agriculture. And our policymakers seem to continue to overlook retirees as part of the solution to the crisis.
As the average age of the Australian farmer is 58, it is concerning that the Department of Agriculture, Fishers, and Forestry in its 'inclusion strategy' overlooks workforce inclusion for older Australians in the diversity and inclusion conversation.
By dismissing their input, we undermine their lifetime of contributions and deny the community a wealth of experience and knowledge. Australia's culture of ageism perpetuates stereotypes that hinder their growth and active engagement. This in turn impacts both their well-being and our nation's economic progress.
We also are missing an opportunity to improve the well-being of older generations and the overall progress of our nation economically. We should celebrate and embrace the contribution of older Australian farmers and acknowledge their experience, knowledge, and passions.
Inclusive policies and workforce practices are not just the morally right thing to do; they are essential for building a more inclusive society. Older Australians have a wealth of expertise accumulated over their lifetime, and by disregarding their potential contributions, we squander a valuable resource that could significantly benefit our nation.
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One of the major barriers to workforce inclusion for older Australians is the aged pension income test. This policy is complex and hampers the ability of older Australians to engage in part-time or casual employment without burdening themselves with complex tax return procedures. Retirees looking to work a few days a week often find the process overwhelming and may choose to forego employment opportunities to avoid the associated hassles.
Some veterans and pensioners can only earn an additional $336.00 per couple or $190 for individuals a fortnight before their pension is reduced by 50c for every additional dollar they earn. Before their defeat at the last election opposition leader Peter Dutton had proposed doubling the amount to $600 a fortnight, a total of $7,800 annually. This would seem more of a policy hand-up than a handout when comes to combating the cost of living for older Australians.”.
The tax return requirement for pensioners with additional income sources is also a cause for concern. The complexity and bureaucratic nature of the process serves as a deterrent, dissuading older Australians from seeking part-time or casual employment to supplement their pension and improve their standard of living.
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Members are telling us this is another opportunity for reform to assist with accessing critically needed labour by reducing the barriers faced by pensioners and retirees in completing annual tax return obligations so this doesn’t outweigh the benefit of some modest employment and additional income.
The current system places undue red tape on some of those who have the most experience to contribute to the workforce. Tax requirements need streamlining, and the complexity needs to be reduced.
We need a simple process for older Australians to actively participate and contribute to the wider economy. Pensioners and retirees appear overburdened by the need to submit annual tax returns for part-time or casual employment and the number of bureaucratic functions that must be satisfied.
As the largest advocacy group in Tasmania and the only one that focuses exclusively on farming and the rural sector, the future of Tasmanian agriculture is our focus.
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