Part of the Annual Phillipa Weeks Lecture series
There has been in place mechanisms for pursuing the principle of non-discrimination at work on the basis of age for some time within the Australian legislative framework. However the successful assertion of such rights has been uncommon, and it has not necessarily facilitated a significant realignment on attitudes to age generally. In fact, no age discrimination complaint made pursuant to the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth) has been successfully litigated since the legislation was first introduced.
Is there an ambivalence about the concept of age equality, and a greater uncertainty about its “wrongness” when compared to other grounds? The legal and policy framework has also stubbornly maintained an adherence to the legitimacy of junior wages, as an exemption to the non-discrimination principle. This lecture addresses the limitations of the existing mechanisms, and then progresses to examining the type of legislative and other regulatory responses necessary in order to proactively facilitate age equality and respond to the dilemma of labour law’s equivocal approach.