By Tippy Irwin
On a recent trip to Australia, I was interested to read the following newspaper article about the Australian take on senior volunteerism.
“Older workers and retirees contribute more than $65billion a year to Australia’s economy – a fact largely unrecognized by the Federal Government and wider population, research has found
Rather than being a drain on the economy, older Australians add the equivalent of more the $5 in unpaid work and other contributions for every $1 spent on aged care by the Government, according to a survey by Swinburne University on behalf of National Seniors Australia. The dollar value of volunteer work, unpaid caring and employee and company loyalty was equivalent to more than $65 billion a year, or 4.2% of Australia’s gross domestic product, National Seniors chief Michael O’Neill said. “Older Australians are a highly productive, essential part of the modern economy,” he said. “Simply put, older Australians paid their way through their working years and, now, are more than paying their way in retirement.” Mr. O’Neill said the survey findings were particularly relevant as they came at a time when the Government had said it would cut access to the age pension. “Rather than draining the economy, older Australians are putting in,” he said. Uncosted social and economic contributions by people aged over 45 totalled $65.7 billion a year – five times the Government’s aged care expenditure during 2014 of $13 billion – the survey by Swinburne associate professor Elizabeth Brooke found.
The uncosted contributions included $22 billion worth of unpaid caring for family and community members and $16.3 billion unpaid volunteer work. It also included $27.4 billion in net employee benefits from above-average staff loyalty, experience and lack of absenteeism compared with younger workers.
AMP Capital chief economist, Shan Oliver, said older Australians more than paid their way. “But if we had to pay for the work older people contribute, in just this one sector (health) they more than pay for themselves.”