Existing policy responses to workforce age discrimination tend to focus on the role of employers in providing opportunities for jobseekers aged over 45. By contrast this research project focuses on employment services and how their staff might work more effectively with mature-age jobseekers.

Older jobseekers may be seen as difficult to place and therefore be liable to ‘parking’ by employment services. As the frontline staff now tend to be younger and have fewer qualifications, our previous research suggested that their age mismatch with older jobseekers may give rise to unconscious bias.

The research team spoke to mature age jobseekers and jobactive staff in four employment regions (Western Melbourne, North Eastern Melbourne, and parts of Inner Metropolitan Melbourne and South Eastern Melbourne).

This study deepened our understanding of the barriers and pathways that lead older Australians to be long-term unemployed. It examined the level and quality of current case management practices and evaluated the effectiveness of the current service model in supporting workforce access and participation for older men and women.

The findings have informed a range of learning resources for employment services staff, aimed at enhancing intergenerational awareness and enabling them to support mature age jobseekers to find work. They will also inform policy advocacy to improve outcomes for mature-age and other disadvantaged jobseekers.

The two-year project was supported by funding from the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation and the cooperation of Jobs Australia.

Contact Dina Bowman

Website and jobseeker tools

An important outcome of this research is the website Working for everyone .

It illustrates the situations of mature age jobseekers with videos and case studies, and explains key changes to the labour market over the past four decades.

The Working It Out Tool enables a jobseeker to create a personalised action plan for their job search. A range of how-to-guides are provided for jobseekers and those who assist them.

Research summary

Dina Bowman, Agathe Randrianarisoa and Seuwandi Wickramasinghe 2018, Working for everyone? Enhancing employment services for mature age jobseekers (PDF, 322 KB)


The study entailed interviews with mature age jobseekers, jobactive staff and employers. These are analysed in three complementary reports:


Dina Bowman 2018. Employment services aren’t working for older jobseekers, jobactive staff or employers , article in The Conversation, 2 July.