Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Family study a welcome insight into the value of older Australians

A new report shows the positive contribution of older people to the community through their household caring and voluntary work, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

She was responding to a new Australian Institute of Family Studies research paper that shows the enormous value of unpaid work. The report found that older Australians contribute $74.5 billion a year in unpaid work.

Senator Patterson said the paper, Measuring the value of unpaid household, caring and voluntary work of older Australians, examines the unpaid contribution made by people to their community at different stages of life.

“We need to remember how older Australians care for family members, other members of the community, and how they donate other skills and resources, as well as time, to the voluntary work they do,” she said.

“Older Australians have a great deal to contribute, both through unpaid work and through the many social benefits they provide to their communities. When a volunteer assists another Australian, they provide not only practical help, but also a sense that someone cares. This feeling is irreplaceable.

“I would like to acknowledge older Australians’ enormous contribution to Australian society and to welcome the additional information and analysis of the ageing population issue that this research paper provides.

“Recently there has been increasing public discussion around the fact that our population is ageing and that there will be fewer young people in the work force.

“This research paper adds information to the current debate on an aspect we have not heard a lot about – consideration of the potential benefits of an ageing society that values the contribution of our older citizens.

“The research found that Australians over 65 years contribute almost $39 billion each year in unpaid caring and voluntary work. If we include the unpaid contribution of those aged 55 to 64 years, this rises to almost $74.5 billion each year.

“Until now the debate has mainly focussed on the increased costs of providing income support and aged care for the future older generation. The findings of this research highlight the positive role older people make to society.

“I am pleased that the Australian Institute of Family Studies, which is part of my portfolio, has produced this report. It makes a positive addition to public debate associated with our ageing population.”
Related information
<Australian Institute for Family Studies