The United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review focusing on Australia’s human rights record overnight put forward a number of recommendations around Australia’s treatment of older people including providing better access to the workforce and strengthening anti-discrimination measures.
The Australian Government also made a voluntary commitment to improve the reporting of the rights of older people at the international level.
COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said he welcomed the focus on the rights of older people at the international level but was disappointed there was not a commitment by the Australian Government to further a Convention of the Rights of Older Persons.
“By 2056 one in four Australians will be over the age of 65. There is no better time than now to focus on what we need to do to ensure older people’s rights are protected both now and in the future.
“Too often older people are left out of the human rights discussion, so it’s pleasing to see Australia has committed to include older people in all its human rights reporting and more importantly to advocate for the rights of older people across various UN reporting mechanisms.
“We’d like to see the Australian Government accept the recommendations from other countries to reduce age discrimination and ensure older people have better access to the labour market.
“These are ongoing issues in Australia which need holistic and coordinated strategies across all levels of government.
“As a nation though, we also need to do more to provide better choice and control in our health care system for older people as they age and ensure they are protected from discrimination, exploitation or neglect.
“This means introducing nationally agreed uniform Advanced Care Planning laws so older people have more of a say in decisions about their own health care; and stronger national leadership on coordinated measures to prevent elder abuse.
“Older Australian’s would also welcome the Government taking a more active leadership role in progressing a Convention on the Rights of Older People – the most effective way to lift the rights of older people across the world.”
The Australian Government must respond to the Universal Periodic Review recommendations by March 2016.
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774.
COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.