Working and retiring under the new NSW Ageing Strategy

| January 25, 2017

When developing their Ageing Strategy, the NSW Government consulted with more than 4,000 older people. Helen Rogers explains what they learnt and what this means for the future of working and retiring.

NSW is changing. We are getting older, and we are living longer.

The NSW Government wants older people to enjoy the benefits of living longer, and to have opportunities to participate and contribute. One way older people will continue to contribute is through their employment in businesses and organisations across the state.

Working as we age is increasingly important. Older people know that working can improve their wellbeing, as well as their financial security and independence. It’s also good for our economy. When older people aren’t able to work, there’s a financial cost to employers and government, as well as to the individual.

That’s why working and retiring is a priority under the NSW Ageing Strategy 2012-2020.


We know that if we want older people to continue working, our workplaces need to be more flexible, and be structured to suit both employers and employees.

When developing the Ageing Strategy, we consulted with more than 4,000 older people. Most of the older people we surveyed are interested in transitioning from work to retirement. They don’t want to be working one day and then stop the next. They want to reduce their hours over a period of time. Some want to do fewer hours every week – three or four days rather than five – so they can be involved in caring for grandkids. Some want to do contract work for part of the year, and travel for the rest.

The NSW Government will look at how to initiate flexible working arrangements and options to support people as they transition to retirement, and share best practice examples. Organisations like Westpac have told us about the programs they have to support older workers to plan and manage their careers, and transition to retirement. Other employers, like Uber, are proof that older people will take up opportunities to work flexibly at times that suit them.


Ageism is also a serious challenge.

Almost 40% of people we consulted believed employer attitudes towards older workers will prevent them from working as long as they would like. In 2015, a Australian Human Rights Commission survey found that around a quarter of respondents over 50 years old had experienced forms of ageism in the workplace – including limiting of employment, promotion or training opportunities, and perceptions that older people have out-dated skills, or are too slow to learn new things.[1]

The NSW Government will work to increase awareness of the benefits of employing older people. Employers like Bunnings are a great example. They recognise the benefits of a diverse workforce, and appreciate the skills and attributes that older people bring to a team.

The future

Meaningful change for older people in the workplace – like everywhere else – requires partnership. The NSW Government will work closely with the government and non-government sectors to address these issues.

We have already started looking at a range of innovative projects to focus on retaining workers at risk of early retirement due to health concerns through the Global Access Partners (GAP) Taskforce on Productive Ageing.

We are investigating the impacts of age restrictions in the Workers Compensation system.

We are providing funding for the Small Biz Connecta subsidised business advisory program designed to assist clients develop key business skills.

And under the Jobs for the Future initiative, we want to make NSW the best place to work for people over 65.

Our objective is that older people in NSW have opportunities to remain in the workforce and are financially secure and independent in retirement. We look forward to working with a range of partners to make that objective a reality.