Boomers wealthy but woke

·2-min read

Boomers can get a bad rap.

They're the generation often maligned as selfish and wealthy - ignorant of climate change, dismissive of the financial situation faced by young Australians, with prejudices hungover from another era. They aren't woke.

Except a recent survey suggests, perhaps they are.

Baby boomers are a much more diverse and empathetic generation than they are given credit for, a Council on the Ageing (COTA) report indicates.

Of nearly 6400 NSW residents aged 50 or over surveyed, more than half said climate change was the most pressing issue facing Australia today: "particularly thinking about my grandchildren and what it's likely to mean in their lifetime," said one.

Further contradicting the preconception older generations are self-interested and socially conservative, the next most pressing issue selected by nearly half those surveyed was housing affordability and homelessness.

"Our young people are not able to afford to buy into the housing market. And I think that's a subject of great concern," one focus group respondent said.

"Because as they get older, they will become increasingly unable to afford to rent somewhere. Rent affordability is also an issue."

The cost of housing and rising costs of further education are what contributed to more than half of those surveyed finding they had better social and economic opportunities during their life than young people today, saying the situation was "disheartening" for today's youth.

However many older women surveyed said they felt women today had far more career opportunities and choices than they ever did.

The research found most supported action on climate change and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian constitution.

Three in four also felt culturally diverse communities have made a positive contribution to society.

"COTA NSW wanted to obtain some concrete information about the views of older people, to see how well they compared with the stereotypes we see in politics and the media," CEO Meagan Lawson said.

"The results back up what COTA NSW already knows - that older people are not a homogenous group and hold a range of views and attitudes."

But it isn't always plain sailing for older Australians, who battled through social isolation during the pandemic much less able to stay connected.

Most older people were concerned that it is getting harder to access information and services without using the internet, and many found it difficult to keep up pace with technological change.

"My concern is the number of organisations that have assumptions or expectations about people and their access to or their ability to use apps and the internet," said one surveyed.

"This is inappropriate, especially for people who may not be so familiar with the technology."

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