Chapter 24: Ageing and social policy in Australia
International policy trends across the world recognize the significance of population ageing, and how the growing proportion of older people can be supported and maintained. Certainly ageing is emerging as a significant policy driver and concern globally, and particularly for emerging countries with large populations such as China due to the sheer size of its population. In 2002, the World Health Organization focused attention on how the health of older populations can be maintained, placing emphasis on three tiers – health, participation and security. As a result, the policy focus of a number of countries, including Australia, has shifted focus away from attention on dependence, frailty and poor health of older people towards an approach based on healthy and productive ageing. This chapter focuses on Australian social policy as it affects local population ageing. Australia has been described as an adjunct to the liberal welfare regime as proposed in Esping-Andersen’s model of welfare state regime types (1990, 1996; for a discussion, see Smyth, 2006). Not truly located in the liberal welfare model focused on market solutions, Australia has been described as a fourth regime type – a wage-earners’ welfare state model (Castles and Mitchell, 1990; Castles, 1996). Thus Australia has traditionally provided a welfare state maintained by wage regulation and welfare delivered through employment. Perhaps as a result, Australia is classified as a country with low social security spending.
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