Public sector must lead fight against disability, age discrimination

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COMMENT: Governments can and should lead the way in slowly chipping away at employment discrimination on the basis of age and ability. It’s now the subject of a new dual-focus inquiry by equal opportunity pioneer Susan Ryan.

Discrimination and unfair treatment in employment on the basis of age or ability is a social ill that unfortunately can only be cured slowly, much like homophobia, racism, or sexism.

Governments have a big role to play as some of the biggest employers around. All governments support diversity principles and have plenty of initiatives, projects and policies already in place, but the slow, grinding task of making them a reality takes persistence.

Of course, age and disability discrimination are separate and different issues, especially in terms of specific actions to address them. But with equal opportunity pioneer Susan Ryan responsible for both categories at the Human Rights Commission, it makes sense to combine them for the latest inquiry, Willing to Work, announced by Attorney-General George Brandis last week. Significant progress was made on these issues under the previous government and there are hopes this will keep the momentum going.

Susan Ryan

Susan Ryan

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