Australia’s Ageing Population and the Future

By: Mark McCrindle

Australia’s demographic landscape stands on the precipice of a momentous transformation as the population ages.

This impending shift promises a remarkable surge in demand for a skilled and dedicated workforce within the aged care sector over the next four decades.

A demographic shift

The demographic makeup of Australia is undergoing a fundamental transformation as the population of those aged 65 and older surges. By 2062-2063, the number of Australians aged 65 and older is projected to more than double, and those aged 85 and older are expected to more than triple.

This transformation is driven in large part by the Baby Boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964. Baby Boomers describe themselves as dependable (72%), independent (58%), and resilient (52%). Highlighting their formidable nature, this generation is renowned for their independence and resilience.

In fact, the median age in Australia is poised to increase as fertility rates remain low, and life expectancy continues to rise. By 2062-2063, Australia’s median age is projected to reach 43.

This “silver tsunami” offers both opportunities and challenges, necessitating proactive measures to cater to the evolving needs of the senior population.

The growing demand for aged care

Presently, Australians aged 65 and older account for about 40% of the nation’s total healthcare expenditure, a significant proportion given that they make up just 16% of the population. This stark contrast emphasises the urgent need for a comprehensive evaluation of Australia’s care and support sector. While older Australians deserve quality healthcare and support services, the current structure and funding allocation in the sector are unsustainable. The evolving needs of our ageing population require adaptation.

Australians aged 65 and older account for about 40% of the nation’s total healthcare expenditure, a significant proportion given that they make up just 16% of the population.

Looking forward, the aged care sector faces both an enormous challenge and an opportunity. By 2049-50, this sector may necessitate a workforce twice its 2020-21 size. The potential doubling of the care and support workforce within the next 25 years presents not only promising employment prospects but also underscores the critical importance of strategic workforce planning. The right skills, training pathways, and wages with the value of care work are vital to attract and retain workers in this sector.

Adapting to the ageing population

This demographic transformation offers potential for extended retirements and greater flexibility for seniors in the workforce or other meaningful activities if they choose.

As Australia stands at the threshold of this transformative demographic shift, it must adapt the healthcare systems, workplace policies, and societal structures to ensure that the opportunities presented by an ageing population outweigh the challenges. The evolving face of Australia’s population is an opportunity to celebrate longevity and the contributions of older generations, requiring the nation to adapt to ensure a high quality of life for all.

Article supplied with thanks to McCrindle.

About the Author: McCrindle are a team of researchers and communications specialists who discover insights, and tell the story of Australians – what we do, and who we are.

Feature image: Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash 

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