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Over 65s still eligible as polling officials

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Joint Media Release

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

Frank Walker QC MP Minister for Administrative Services Chris Sidoti Chairman

People aged over 65 will be eligible to apply for casual work as polling officials again at the next Federal Election after discussions between the Minister for Administrative Services, Frank Walker, the Human Rights Commissioner, Chris Sidoti and officials from the Australian Electoral Commission.

Mr Walker said that, like other government agencies, the AEC had found it difficult to employ people over the age of 65 because they were not eligible for Commonwealth workers’ compensation. With the support of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), Mr Walker had encouraged the AEC to change its policy and explore ways of overcoming the compensation problem.

“The AEC employs more than 60 000 people across the country during the election period,” said Mr Walker. “I wasn’t prepared to see the skills of experienced polling officials wasted just because they’d reached a certain age.”

Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti has welcomed the changed policy of the AEC, saying that it corrects a potential breach of anti-discrimination legislation.

“The move is a significant step towards the elimination of age discrimination,” said Mr Sidoti. “Age is largely irrelevant to whether or not you can perform a job. Meeting a job's inherent requirements should be the only measure of performance.”

On Friday, 8 December, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission hosts a Forum for non-government organisations on the Legal Needs of Older People, organised in conjunction with the Department of the Federal Attorney General, Michael Lavarch, who will give the

opening address. The Forum runs from 9.00am to 4.45pm at the HREOC Hearing Room, Level 8, Piccadilly Tower, 133 Castlereagh St, Sydney.

Media contacts: Claire Tedeschi, Mr Walker’s office. June McGowan, HREOC

Phone (06) 277 7600. Phone (02) 284 9677.