MEDIA RELEASE: Government must lead on UN support for the rights of older people

Australia must support the push for a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older People to ensure seniors are protected from discrimination and abuse here and across the world, said COTA Australia ( Council on the Ageing) today.

Marking the International Day of Older Persons today , COTA Australia CEO Ian Yates ha s written to the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General and the Minister for Ageing urging them to ensure the governments takes a global leadership position in advocating for the rights of older people at the United Nations level.

“Advocates for older people globally have been arguing for a convention for some time to ensure older people are afforded the same rights and protections as other vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities and indigenous people,” COTA Australia National Policy Manager, Jo Root said.

“Age discrimination and ageism are tolerated across the world. Older people experience discrimination and the violation of their rights at family, community and institutional levels.

“With the ageing of the population around the globe this means more people are likely to have their human rights violated simply because they are old.

“The only real and binding way to make sure older people are protected is to enshrine their rights through a specific Convention.

“The United Nations has established an Open-Ended Working Group to examine this issue.

“The Federal Government should be actively participating in this group – advocating on behalf of Australia’s three million older people and their contemporaries in countries with lesser human rights records.

“It is disappointing Australia had been invisible on this issue to date and it’s time the Government stepped up and showed their commitment to our older people.”

Ms Root said there are many benefits to the establishment of a Convention on the Rights of Older People.

“A convention would establish a definitive, universal position that age discrimination is morally and legally unacceptable; provide legally binding protection with accompanying accountability mechanisms; provide a framework to guide policy responses to demographic ageing based on rights, equity and social justice; and provide a powerful advocacy and education tool for older people and those that represent them for claiming their rights.

“This is the one tangible way we can globally address ageism and discrimination, and ensure older people achieve the r ights to which they are entitled.”

Media contact: Jo Root 0430 395 048 or Anastasia Stomo 0432 243 389