The Age of Discrimination
Studies in Elder Law at UTS Faculty of Law
I am 73 and out and proud about my age.
So began Dr Kay Patterson’s guest lecture to students of the Law Faculty’s new Elder Law elective.
A former Senator and Federal Government Minister, Dr Patterson is now the Age Discrimination Commissioner with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
She was keen to come and talk to UTS students after meeting Law Associate Professor, Nola Ries at a recent function.
She was impressed that we have introduced Elder Law as an elective – we are one of only two Australian universities to do so.
With Australia’s ageing population, Elder Law is a growing area of legal practice. The UTS subject looks at the legal needs and rights of older people, focusing on health, justice and inclusion in society. Topics include elder abuse, medical decision-making and age discrimination.
The Law Reform Commission recently conducted an inquiry into elder abuse and the latest Federal Budget allocated 22 million dollars to help combat the problem.
Dr Patterson gave students numerous examples of discrimination including banks and utilities charging for paper statements, employers ignoring applications because of a person’s age and even proposed changes to the postal service.
She also spoke about the importance of harmonising laws across the country which affect the elderly – for example Powers of Attorney Laws which vary from state to state – and challenged the students to lobby for legal change.
Addressing the obvious question of why should young students be concerned about this area of the law, Dr Patterson offered some advice:
The climate you create now – advocating for Elder Law – is the climate you inherit.
Final year Law and Medical Science student, Tim Wheatley says the lecture was an eye-opener.
It’s gave me a good perspective on the issues and also gave me ideas about the real-world, practical outcomes that can be achieved working in this area of law.
Fifth year Law and Journalism student, Cameron Nicholls says he stumbled upon the elective of Elder Law almost by accident but couldn’t be happier.
It’s the best elective I have ever done at UTS.
Details of the Elder Law elective