In 1997 I first became aware of the phenomenon that is ageing Australia. There wasn't much written then about it- no Intergenerational Reports then and few with the vision to realise that we Boomers would become the problem we are today and will be in the future.
I was drawn to an advertisement in the Gold Coast Bulletin that wanted interested people to help develop what was being called the Grey Army. As soon as my wife showed me the advertisement the vision was there in my mind and I was drawn to it like a magnet.
I had been looking for work myself and at 46 years of age was having trouble getting any replies to my applications for work vacancies.
I joined the Grey Army that day and formed the first franchise at Kirra on the southern end of the Gold Coast and thus began the first of thousands of discussions with my age group about the difficulties they too were having finding work due to age discrimination. No one had any idea why this was happening and what would be the eventual repercussions.
I fell out with the Grey Army after 3 months because the Director had no idea of the big picture of what he was dealing with and he could only focus on selling franchises rather than the need to inform and assist Boomers to plan for the future.
I accepted the challenge of developing systems to assist and support the Boomers and went to NZ initially for 3 years due to his legal threats before returning to the Gold Coast in 2001 and establishing BONZA with my good mate Keith Blake and we decided that a web site would be the best way to inform Boomers as information is the key to change.
Over the last 20 years we have researched, developed and presented my 'Moving Forward' PowerPoint to thousands of our generation at TAFE’s, Expos, seminars, workplace sites and staff rooms and lobbied politicians and political parties on behalf of my generation. BONZA has:
taken the many parts of the jig saw that is Ageing Australia (inadequate superannuation, intergenerational issues, skills shortages, training, mature age policies, over 50s experience, fitness, health, aged care, community expectations, employer attitudes and many other parts) and simplified it so everyone understands the big picture that the jigsaw parts presents.
warned Boomers not to think retirement but concentrate on their timeline of life and realise they need finances for around 30 years after turning 50 so this is a new time of life with many opportunities.
suggested policies that employers might embrace to retain their valued mature age employees in the face of a severe looming skill shortage
dutifully edited a monthly newsletter to keep a focus on our generation with people from all parts of society on a monthly basis with the final edition sent out in August 2011.
kept the media informed of our needs and spoke to many outlets over the years.
communicated with Prime Ministers, Ministers of Government, Qld Premiers and many politicians about Boomer issues and challenges.
facilitated many workshops, expos and community groups with my PowerPoint presentation ‘Moving Forward’ that has changed the lives of thousands of Boomers.
All that involvement has been wonderful in that it is very gratifying to help others in this way.
As a visionary, it is easy to see what has to be done and how to do it but you have to win the support of key players who can allow you to achieve the dream and not just talk about it. I have tried to find funds but the sacrifice has been demanding both emotionally and economically.
In 2004, BONZA ran a Boomer Music Festival on the Gold Coast with the intention of using that money to establish our first Maturelink One-Stop Shop for Over 50's. It rained heavily all day. It took me 3 years to pay off the bills.
In 2007 former Liberal Minister Joe Hockey took an interest and was keen to have a national set up of Maturelink offices for Over 50's like Medicare but with a focus on support, training, job preparation and economic and social participation. Canberra bureaucrats were not happy that I was working for Centrelink at the time so it had to be done through Centrelink was their eventual decision.
In 2008 Centrelink then allowed me to set up a pilot program called Maturelink but it was so successful that it was closed because it attracted to many Over 50's and Centrelink did not have funding to do it.
In 2011, my then employer met with state government officials to look at a Bush Skills project that would allow a database of training positions and jobs for Over 50's in the bush particularly for the 400 000 grey nomads. It rained and all money went to flood disaster management.
Finally in July 2011 I bit the bullet and decided to do it myself so I formed a not for profit organisation called Bonza Community Services to look for funding for Maturelink and Bush Skills initially but other projects as we grew.
We quickly formed a board of management of interested community leaders and began the task of applying for funding.
My employer then informed me of a problem with conflict of interest if I proceeded and which I fully understand and blocked my involvement so I had to cut off from BONZA Community Services as I needed the income.
I feel I have tried everything and really something that is so important should not be as difficult to establish as I am experiencing. I have no doubt many of my visions will happen in time.
You all know the problems ahead even if you haven’t got the complete picture.
Those of us who have only got on average around $60 000 in superannuation to survive for around 30 years and who will be a part of a world overrun with ageing citizens have to be given an opportunity to better prepare.
Boomers that is who are prepared for the future and are still actively participating both economically and socially.
It can be done proactively rather than re-actively and that is my dream.
Keith Blake and I developed and released our first BONZA Report in October 2014 which can be downloaded from the home page.
It is a summary of all your ideas and ours over that 14 year period and has been sent to all Federal government departments and State Premiers.
THE FACTS ABOUT GENERATIONS
I have read many articles about the Boomers and it is obvious that there is some confusion about which generation is which. The Bureau of Statistics has the final say in my opinion and their research shows that:
The Builders were born before 1946, are now aged from 72 and there are 2.6 million of them.
The Boomers were born 1946-64, are now aged from 53-71and there are 5.3 million of them.
X Generation were born 1965-79, are now aged from 38-52 and there are 4.4 million of them.
Y Generation were born 1980-94, are now aged from 23-37 and there are 4.2 million of them.
Z Generation will be born 1995-2009, are now aged from 8-22 and there are 4.6 million.
Alpha Generation started from 2010 and they have over 3.0 million already.
That should end the countless arguments in workplaces and dinner tables about who we are and allow journalists to be more informed when writing articles. If you need more information about Boomers email me on email@example.com
2017 Boomers only have an average of around $70 thousand in superannuation and over 50% want to live on an aged pension when they retire. Your retirement could last for 20-40 years.
Most are working a part-time job as that is all that is available to mature age in the workforce. The skill shortage is already becoming evident. Some planning is needed.
Skill training will be necessary to prepare the unemployed for future jobs and the return of a healthy economy.
The first of the Boomers have retired and are on age pension. Those who aren't are reluctant to look for full time work as there are no jobs for them.
Centrelink age pension demands, which have already risen due to self funded retirees joining the pensioner ranks in recent times because of the superannuation downturn, are doubling.
We will be able to continue part-time work and also draw on what superannuation is left to live on so not everyone will need a pension but most will.
There is talk about not having enough Superannuation invested to pay the demands over the next decade and the rate to be lifted to 12%.
This year the superannuation contribution from government will be lower.
Aged care is debated and a possible benchmark set of $300,000 asset when no aged care will be given.
2017 Boomers will be ageing, bored and looking for things to do.
Research shows that their interests will be reminiscing, spiritual; hobbies, self employment and their families and some will have the money at this stage to do so.
Health and aged care will now be major issues with government.
2020 There is now a skill shortage as a workforce that was increasing by 170 000 each year in 2007 is now expected to increase by that number in a decade form 20-30 because there will be fewer workers to fill the positions being vacated by Boomers.
Boomers are flooding medical centres with their ailments and families are now being encouraged to look after their parents.
Age pension goes up to 67 in 2023.
2025 There are only 3 taxpayers paying for the needs of every retiree instead of the 5 taxpayers that do that now.
Community/welfare groups are having trouble assisting the Boomers due to the sheer numbers wanting assistance.
Many are single women and living alone as their partners have died which will become a security nightmare as they are exploited.
Volunteer organizations have increased as society looks to support the Boomers in finding activities for them. (This is where I hope we can form BONZA activity groups and keep our generation gainfully occupied. Community groups that can help support their area and have something to do).
2030 The last of the Boomers have officially retired but many work on. There is now over 30% of the population eligible for the aged pension.
The older Boomers are terminally ill. Aged people are everywhere with many with nothing to do and few to look after them. Charity groups spend heavily on assisting the Boomers.
Euthanasia is on our minds. Security is still a problem for the huge number of women who are living alone as their partners are gone. Society is having trouble coping with so many aged people but the situation will improve over the next 2 decades as we die off. Age pension goes up to 70 in 2035 which will effect the X generation as most Boomers will have retired.
2060 Many countries around the world have significant drops (in the millions) of population as the BOOMER aged die and zero population growth does not allow for replacements.