Work, Family and Health: Australian Agendas
In the next five decades the Australian population pyramid will invert, doubling the ratio of people over 65 to the working age population from 20 percent in 2007 to around 40 percent in 2050. One way to safeguard economic productivity is to raise labour forceparticipation. This could be achieved by extending employment past the current retirement age and further engaging mothers. Australian mothers’ participation is low, and the majority of employed mothers work part-time (similar to the situation in Germany).
Population health is another domain in which Australian policy is challenged. Over half of adult Australians are currently overweight or obese,a proportion that has risen sharply in the last twenty years. Daily exercise and good nutrition are essential to reduce obesity and the associated illnesses of diabetes Type 2 and heart disease. Yet despite decades of health promotion campaigns, less than 5 percent of people walk to work each day, and only 1 percent cycle. One in five Australian experts ranked time pressure as the single most important social trend underlying the rising rates of obesity.
Although at first glance unrelated, the policy challenges posed by population ageing, gender inequity and unhealthy lifestyles are interlinked. Together they raise the question of how to combine working with caring in an equitable and health-sustaining way – they require new ways of theorizing the work-related determinants of health, and it is these interconnections that this seminar discusses.
Dr. Strazdins is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor (PhD Psychology, M Clinical Psych) at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, the Australian National University. She leads the work and family component of the Federally funded Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, a study of 10,000 families.