Beyond the Great Australian Dream

For decades, Australians have held home ownership to be the mark of status and success in life. However, this ignores the more basic and fundamental role of owning our own home, including physical shelter; physical and psychological wellbeing; and a source of wealth that can facilitate financial security. With home ownership on the decline, what are the implications for older Australians in the future?

“So much of the rhetoric that is out there is premised on the fact that people own their own homes and yet data is showing that over the last three to four census periods that’s happening much less. People are not retiring owning their own homes, whereas previously they did.”

Dr Victoria Cornell*

Home ownership on decline

Recent census data reveals that home ownership is declining – particularly amongst those under 55 years of age. Assuming that everyone in Australia in the future will own their home in their 50s and beyond ignores current data trends. According to the Grattan Institute there’s a possibility that future Australians will be ‘permanent renters’. In fact, this Grattan Report suggests:

“It’s been a perfect storm of rising incomes and falling interest rates, rapid migration, tax and welfare settings feeding demand, and planning rules restricting supply.”

Furthermore, homelessness is increasing. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 116,427 people who are homeless. 18,625 of these people are over 55 years old, a 28% increase for this age category since the 2011 census. Of this older cohort, most notable is the increase in older women experiencing homelessness – there was an 83% increase in the number of women over 55 homeless and couch-surfing between 2011 and 2016 alone.

Housing and longer lives

Homelessness and reduced home ownership have significant implications in the future as we become older and our lifespans increase. What happens if we don’t own our home in our 70s, 80s and 90s? Where will we live? Who with? How do we build homes and create communities today to accommodate the changing home ownership trend? Moreover, how can we build homes that see people through multiple life stages? Finally, how can we make age friendly everyone’s business?

Implications for housing older Australians

Previously we’ve written about the steps for housing innovation. This process is one that governments, savvy designers, builders, developers, urban planners, and architects would all benefit from incorporating into housing developments and designs. However, when it comes to housing solutions for providing affordable housing for the elderly to reduce homelessness and accommodate declining home ownership it requires a radical rethink in both government policy and private sector approaches. Developments like Mirvac’s build-to-rent club in Sydney Olympic Park and the Communities Plus housing site in Redfern are just the start.

The future of housing

Three Sisters Group interviewed experts in the fields of housing and urban design. For a quick summary of their insights on our housing future have a look at this short video.

Will you own your own home when you’re in your 60s, 70s or beyond? Perhaps you know someone who will face the challenge of being a permanent tenant.

If you’d like to further understand the implications of housing in the context of our burgeoning ageing population for your business or community, call us on 0422 002 202.

 

*Dr Victoria Cornell is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Adelaide and Convenor, Housing and Built Environment Special Interest Group, AAG.

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Guest blog: When will I be the ‘right age’ for the workforce?

Aislinn Martin feels she’s been ‘too young’, too ‘risky an age’ or in some cases even ‘too old’, during her 24 years in the workforce. So when is the right age?

Too young

My working life started at fourteen years and nine months as a checkout chick in a large retail chain.

I looked even younger than 14 and felt uncomfortable asking to check the bags of adult customers. Some of the customers weren’t impressed either and told me as much.

In my late teens, sometimes the younger workers would be given more weekend shifts than me, as they were cheaper.

At twenty-one, after graduating from university, I began working in local government and was easily the youngest person in the lift every morning.  There were often looks of confusion – perhaps I was a work experience student or somebody’s child coming to visit them? I looked about seventeen.

In my late twenties, in a different role, I sometimes struggled being taken seriously in the workplace. Were my decisions based on any kind of knowledge or expertise? Was I sure that I didn’t want to check in with another person to confirm a course of action? I appeared to be about twenty-three.

Too ‘risky an age’

By my early thirties, I was managing other people in the workplace and had clawed my way to middle management. All the jobs I had I fought hard for; at one stage I spent a year applying for more senior, ongoing roles. I recall one interview with two men around this time: They asked repeatedly if I would be able to travel interstate regularly and I replied yes. I did not have children and indicated to them that I had travelled to remote areas in previous jobs. I never heard from them again; I sensed they thought that I was of ‘an age’ where I might require maternity leave.  I had been in the workforce for eighteen years by this stage. People assumed I was in my late twenties.

Still too young?

At nearly forty, I feel ready to take the next step up the career ladder.  I have officially been in the workforce for twenty-four years now. I have additional tertiary qualifications and a lot of experience across a variety of sectors, with some specialist expertise in couple of areas. I bring with me a lengthy list of successful organisational outcomes, a roll-my-sleeves-up approach and a keen interest in continuing education and development.  However, my recent experience job-hunting suggests employers still deem me to be ‘too young’ to take on senior or executive roles. Despite the fact that men in my age bracket, and sometimes younger, have often overtaken me in terms of role seniority. Can this all be attributed to their greater skills sets/expertise/qualifications/presentation/emotional intelligence/attitude/cultural fit/networking? And no, there have not been any significant career breaks that might place me behind the pack.  I look to be in my mid-30s.

Too old

However, the one exception appears to be in the start-up/entrepreneurial sector, where I am now apparently ‘too old’. Some of these companies are not interested in qualifications or experience as it is more about hipster attitude, living in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and a neck beard. Well, given ‘my age’ a beard is not out of the realms of possibility so perhaps there is hope!  A recent article on ‘Linkedin’ spoke about ageism in recruitment, noting that anyone over forty is at risk.

No answers

What happened to forty being the new thirty and so on? Given our current life expectancy predictions, I am around half-way through this journey.  Doesn’t that count for something?

How is it I have spent a professional lifetime working towards this seniority and I am still ‘too young’?

How can it be that at the very same time, I am also ‘past it’?

Can someone please explain to me exactly when the ‘right age’ is?

 

This article originally appeared in The Women’s Agenda in July 2018.

Are you a HR leader looking to create a work environment friendly to all ages, genders, cultures and abilities? Speak to Catherine Rickwood today on 0422 002 202 or contact us.

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

It’s not a house. It’s a home.

Our homes have deep meaning in our lives. We not only have physical dependence on them to meet our basic needs; we’re emotionally attached to them – no matter where they are or what they look like.

The classic line, “It’s not a house; it’s a home.” was made famous by Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle in 1997. However, the sentiment behind these few words are as relevant today as they were when we first heard them.

The question is: what makes a home? The reality is the answer will be different for every person. What’s important is that we ask the question in the context of the changing landscape of home ownership and longer lives. To do this, Three Sisters Group interviewed experts in the field of housing and urban design. This short 3 minute video shares their insights.

“The communities that will do well into the future are the ones which are compact, connected, are intergenerational and do provide people with the option of using an alternative to driving.”

Distinguished Professor Billie Giles-Corti – Director, Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform

 

To find out how Three Sisters Group can help your organisation understand housing in the context of the burgeoning ageing population call us on 0422 002 202.

You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube for more insights in this space. From our blog, these are our top picks on homes and housing:

Guest blog: Ageing. That’s life.

Popular culture would have us believe that once we are forty, we are more or less washed up and on a downhill trajectory. It’s easy to agree with this view if our thinking is aligned with cultural conditioning that sees age as a category (of young or old) rather than a continual process across the life course.

We live in a time where there is optimal knowledge, networks and shared experiences. This provides us with the opportunity to use a broader lens with which to view the world and ourselves. Paradigms are not only shifting but also morphing. Age categories have become blurred as we realise that this thing called ‘ageing’ is a life course matter.

We count no matter what our age is.

Things do not necessarily come to a screaming halt after our 50s or 60s. In fact many of us will live long active lives until our 80s or 90s. So why do the myths, attitudes and stereotypes about age persist?

It’s one thing to insist that we should not have stereotypical attitudes about age, but another to explore some of the factors that contribute to these pervasive ageist attitudes.

Ageism, culture & attitudes

Our individual worldview is arguably the combination of our personality, preferences and the internalised cultural layers that we grew up with. These are strong influences in our psyche. If we grow up in a culture that continually reveres youth, and diminishes the value of the old, we run the risk of internalising ageist views. This makes it hard for ourselves when we move from ‘in-group’ (young) to the ‘out-group’ (old, and “over the hill”). If we have adopted the view that age is a category of either ‘young’ or ‘old’ we become disheartened when we no longer belong to the ‘revered group’. This leaves us feeling diminished and irrelevant. Yet it is due to our own thinking.

Live longer: 5 ways to be positive about ageing

Studies have shown that those with more positive self-perceptions of ageing tend to live over 7 years longer than those with less positive attitudes. They also enjoy better functional health as they reach their senior years. So, start peeling back some of these cultural layers that hold negative messages about age with these five things:

  1. Understand that ageing commences from the time of conception and continues until death (not from an arbitrary number like 40, 50 or 60 etc).
  2. Ageing is a natural part of the life cycle.
  3. Be honest with yourself about your age. Embrace it, and flourish within your current stage of life instead of wishing for past stages (reminiscing is one thing, fixating on the past is another). Live in the present.
  4. Let go of ideas of wanting to look, seem, dress or act ‘younger’. Also, don’t give compliments by stating someone looks ‘younger’ than they are, or doesn’t ‘look’ their age.
  5. Live a full life. Be friends with people of all ages. Being younger is neither better nor worse than being older. Realise that no matter what your age, you will continue this journey, god willing, until you are at the age when you need the help of your great-grand kids to blow out your birthday candles!

If you’d like to know more, contact Three Sisters Group – specialists in providing knowledge and insights on the burgeoning over 50s market.

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