AAG Hot Topic 2020

Future proofing human rights in Australia

This hot topic grapples with a question that goes to the core of how as a community we create fair access and outcomes for all people, at all ages..

Preparing for an ‘increasingly ageing population’ requires urgent action ‘to address poverty, good health, gender equality, economic growth and decent work, reduced inequalities and sustainable cities’ (UN, 2018). However, the UN emphasises the need for older people to ‘be recognised as the active agents of societal development’ rather than simply a ‘vulnerable group’ (UN, 2017).  In other words, older people are full citizens and hold the same fundamental and inalienable rights as younger people.

Climate change, homelessness, increasing demand for services, economic inequality, and shifting expectations about the roles of governments, services, and the community are just some of the challenges shaping policy and service delivery, and gaining attention in the popular media in Australia.  The promotion and protection of human rights in the face of these is essential work.  But to succeed, the barrier to human rights presented by negative social norms about older age and older people must be removed at the same time.

This hot topic brings ageing into the focus of human rights and broader development. As researchers and professionals in the fields of ageing, we can have a key role in working towards asserting human rights at all ages.

The 2020 Glenda Powell Travelling Fellow is Sue Mcgrath.