Máire Hoctor, Minister for Older People today launched ‘Say No to Ageism Week’ in the Equality Authority, Clonmel Street, Dublin 2
This initiative is being implemented by the Health Service Executive, the Equality Authority and the National Council on Ageing and Older People. It aims to promote a new awareness of ageism and how it excludes older people from society. Public campaigns to raise awareness and to stimulate practical action within organisations form part of the initiative. Promoting equality for older people as customers is another key element.
The HSE has agreed to spearhead practical action to achieve these objectives. It has already taken the lead by developing and implementing an action programme during 2006. This involved the devising of initiatives in locations aimed at improving age friendly service provision in a workplace or residential setting in 15 trial sites which are involved in a range of service provision settings. The work was kept under review during the year and a report was prepared so that the learning could be disseminated throughout the Executive.
Employment Equality laws exist in order to protect people from discrimination on various grounds, including age. Much of the work of the Equality Authority concerns allegations of ageism. Cases usually involve allegations of discrimination by older people in relation to job advertisements, access to employment, working conditions and retirement ages. Case files under the Equal Status Acts involve allegations of discrimination in relation to access to motor insurance, travel insurance and public sector services. Ageism therefore diminishes the participation by older people in the life of society and limits their access to key services supporting their quality of life.
Status and recognition for older people is reduced where different generations are segregated and older people become invisible or where they are deemed to be a burden. ‘Say No to Ageism’ week aims to challenge existing attitudes through the use of billboards, the media and posters.
Speaking after the launch, Minister Hoctor said that the HSE, the Equality Authority and the National Council on Ageing and Older People were to be praised on their co-ordinated approach and that it was most encouraging to see the range of activities involved in “Say No to Ageism” week. She added that this initiative would definitely play a practical role in helping to combat ageism in society today.