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  • by: Education Editor Sheradyn Holderhead
  • From: The Advertiser
  • May 06, 2012 11:00PM



Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan has asked for an explanation after hearing complaints from older teachers. Source: AAP

AUSTRALIA’S Age Discrimination Commissioner is concerned older teachers may be forced out of their jobs.

Commissioner Susan Ryan said that after hearing complaints from South Australian teachers last week, she immediately wrote to Education Minister Grace Portolesi asking her to explain.

A woman in her 60s said her principal called her “mentally unfit” to teach because she forgot a student’s name.

Another woman in her 60s said that she had completed extra teacher training and wanted to implement some of it in her school but was told she was too old to do so.

A male teacher in his 60s said he had seen a trend in the past 12 months to overlook older teachers for younger ones on the basis they followed the school principal’s beliefs.

“It (hearing the complaints) was very concerning,” Ms Ryan said of the complaints aired on radio.


“I was shocked because I’m based in NSW where I know there is a whole lot of older teachers in their late 60s still going and needed because there’s not enough people teaching.

“I wrote straight to Minister Portolesi and raised the complaints with her and asked what the policy is and whether there are any strategies in place to encourage older teachers to stay on.”

Ms Ryan said even if there were an oversupply of teaching graduates, employment decisions must only be made on the basis of performance.

“I’m very keenly waiting for a response from the minister to see the Government’s views on this,” she said.

Australian Education Union SA president Correna Haythorpe said there appeared to be more teachers reporting a concern about age discrimination.

“Older teachers are critically important for education because they provide mentoring and support for new teachers and any perception of discrimination is detrimental to education,” she said.

Ms Portolesi said she had received correspondence from the commissioner and shared her concerns that any discrimination based on age or any other factor was unacceptable.

“Any allegations of discrimination are treated very seriously. I encourage anyone who feels that they may have been discriminated against to contact the department so that their concerns can be investigated,” she said.

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