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Video Clip Synopsis:
Some people experience retiring like hitting a brick wall, finding it hard to live on such a dramatically reduced income. “Beehive” is a Seniors employment co-operative where pensioners can work to earn a few dollars without affecting their Social Security payments.

1min 54sec

Pensioners Working Part-Time at a Co-Op is an excerpt from the film Hitting A Brick Wall (15 mins), an episode of the series Ageing in the New Age (7 x 15mins), produced in 1983.

Hitting A Brick Wall: For some people the act of retirement is an unexpected shock. How can one properly prepare? This program looks at several people who have approached retirement in different ways.

Ageing in the New Age: With an ageing population, the world is approaching a crisis and community debate is growing on the issues raised by ageing populations. Each program in this series of seven films deals with one of those issues: approaches to retirement, community support systems that foster independence, living on a pension, ways the elderly are still contributing to the community, the position of elders in different cultural traditions, the problem of dementia and managing financial investments. They are generally optimistic and uplifting programs, full of innovative ideas and inspiration.

Ageing in the New Age was produced by Film Australia with the assistance of AMP Society.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 9-10
Theme: Health Work

Key Concepts

Ageing society; Retirement; Identity

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Place and space – Environmental impact
Natural and social systems – Social systems
NSW:History Stage 5 Topic 3B, Topic 7A
NT:Soc 5.3
Qld:9/10 Civics – Place and space 5.2, 6.1
9/10 Geography
– Time, continuity and change D6.4
– Place and space 6.2, 6.3
– Systems, resources and power 5.4
9/10 History – Systems, resources and power 5.1
SA:Time, continuity and change 5.3
Place, space and environment 5.5
Social systems 5.10
Tas:World Futures – Creating sustainable futures. Standard 5
Vic:History 6.2
Geography 6.1, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5 ext
Economy and society 6.5 ext
WA:Place and space

Context / Background Information

Australia's population is ageing and in international terms it is ageing relatively fast. Twenty years ago, 9% of the Australian population or 1.3 million people were aged 65 years and over. By 1996 this had increased to 12% of the population or 2.2 million people and by 2016 this is projected to increase to 16% of the population or 3.5 million people.

The internal age structure of the older population is also changing quite significantly. In 1976, one in six older people was aged 80 and over, by 1996 it was one in five and by 2016 it is expected to be one in four. In the next twenty years, the number of people in Australia aged 80 will grow by 63% from 486,200 in 1996 to 794,500 by 2016.

Work is an important part of adult life. When the eight hour working day was introduced, it stated that the day was divided up into “eight hours work, eight hours rest and eight hours recreation”. Many people either work more than eight hours and/or sleep less than eight hours. The eight hours that should be devoted to ‘play’ are often taken up with working, managing a household and caring for children. As a result, when they reach retirement, some people do not have the skills or networks to know how to ‘play’.

For many people, their social network is based around work. When they retire that network is gone. They have no daily contact for social exchange and no prospect of future social functions.

For people who have worked in a regular job for a number of years, maintaining a structure in their lives can be important. Volunteer work offers this structure and a way to feel that you are still a valued member of the community.

In this video clip, pensioners can work at a co-op without affecting their pension. At the same time this provides them with entertainment and activities.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What does the video clip show?
  2. Why is retirement difficult?
  3. Discuss financial aspects. What do you know about superannuation.
  4. Discuss possible emotional experiences of retirement.
  5. How much is identity linked to careers?
  6. What is a ‘co-operative’?
  7. What are the benefits that it can bring to people?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Research the census statistics for the ageing of the population from 1954 to the present. Describe the pattern of ageing that you see.
  2. What are the main implications of this trend for people and governments — for example, in the likely need for more hospitals and fewer schools, the decrease in working people supporting non-working people through taxation, etc.

Modules That Use This Clip

Health/PE Year 9-10, English Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10