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Most of us would reject the suggestion that we hold prejudices against people on the basis of their race, religion, gender, ability or sexuality and we probably know it is against the law in most circumstances to discriminate against anyone on this basis. But what about older people? Does someone’s dismissive comment about ‘dinosaurs’ or ‘geris’ raise your eyebrow? What about describing cyclist grandparents as ‘adorable’? Should age ever be a limiting factor for someone wanting a job if they are highly qualified to do it?
Diversity and inclusion has rightly become an important issue for society in recent decades but there is one ‘ism’ that has lagged behind: ageism. Years of research and experience have shown that the term ‘ageism’ is not nearly as well known or understood as other forms of prejudice and discrimination. This is part of the reason that ageism is so widely accepted, in spite of the negative impacts it has on people’s lives and our community.
To help change that, this year’s UN International Day of the Older Person is being celebrated as Australia’s first Ageism Awareness Day – and everyone is warmly invited. Ageism Awareness Day is an opportunity to draw attention to the existence and impacts of ageism in Australia, which is a critical step to changing community attitudes. Mable is a proud, formal supporter of the EveryAGE Counts campaign that is spearheading Ageism Awareness Day.
Wherever you are in Australia on 1 October, you are encouraged to stop and think about ageism and to call out it out; to bring this highly tolerated form of discrimination and prejudice out of the shadows to the forefront of our minds. You can also take action. Join the growing social movement to shift attitudes about ageing and older people by visiting the EveryAGE Counts website and taking the pledge to end ageism.
While ageism can affect people at any age, the specific focus of the EveryAGE Counts campaign is to ageism against older people,- to enable older people to participate in their communities socially, economically and as full citizens while fostering intergenerational solidarity.
The theme is ‘Ageism. Know it. Name it’
Research and experience have shown that ‘ageism’ is harmful – it can distort our attitudes to older people and the process of ageing and have profound negative impacts on our personal experience of growing older. It affects our health and even reduces our lifespan. But because it is not as widely known or understood as other forms of prejudice and discrimination, it remains largely hidden and accepted,despite its negative impact on the lives of so many people in our community.
Improving our ways to know it and name it builds our capacity to act towards ending ageism and age discrimination.
We have taken the pledge to end ageism and work towards a world where all people of all ages are respected and their contributions are acknowledged.
Invite your workplace to host an in-person or virtual morning tea to promote a public conversation about ageing and ageism, to raise awareness of people’s experiences, and promote knowledge, education and understanding.
The EveryAGE Counts campaign has lots of ideas and resources to get you started. There is also a great animated video on the home page, with a voice over by actor, Bryan Brown, that explains agesim and how the world might be different if we didn’t have it.
A really important starting point for many of us is to ‘make it personal’. Unless we can change it, ageism can affect all of us because we are all ageing and we all hope to grow old. As Age Discrimination Commissioner Dr Kay Patterson AO reminds us:
“Don’t see this as an issue for others. This is personal. It is about every one of us – today, in a year or two, or in 30 years.”