By MINISTER BILL SHORTEN
One of my favourite things about public life is the Census, the five yearly family photo of our nation.
It tells us remarkable things – how many people speak a made up language at home, how many people are Jedis – but it also shows the shape of the nation now and into the future.
According to the most recent Census, the average Australian is a 37 year old mother of two who works as a shop assistant. If I were writing this 50 years ago, the average Australian would have been a man in his 20s.
There are three key trends reflected in today’s average Australian – as a society we are living longer, and there are more women than men, and we need to do more to promote the financial independence of women.
There are more women now in work than ever before, there are more women graduating from university than men, more women aren’t getting married, or marrying later in life, or choosing not to have children. And more women expect to work for all of their lives.
Those among us who are over 65 now are only 3 million in number, but by 2050 there will be 8.1 million of us.
Today there are fifty of us in work for every ten of us in retirement.
By 2050, there will be twenty-seven of us in work for every ten of us in retirement.
These days we’re probably at school and in college until we’re 20 or 25, and we shall be students retraining our whole adult life.
These are trends which are going to continue, and so how Australia plans for this in generations to come is important.
As the Minister responsible for superannuation in the Gillard Government, I’m acutely aware that we need to take steps now to avoid letting down an entire generation of modern Australian women.
Life expectancy for Australian women is now 84, versus 79 for men, and this means that planning for a longer life is incredibly important.