Sydney (Agenzia Fides) – Since life expectancy has increased, we need to build "a just and compassionate nation and promote solidarity among all generations": said Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, head of the Council for social Justice in the Australian Bishops' Conference, explaining the Australian Bishops program for the year 2016-2017 in the field of social justice, entitled "A place at the table: social Justice in an aging society".
As reported in a note sent to Fides by the Episcopal Conference, "Australia, has to protect the elderly and vulnerable people from the risk of feeling a burden on society". The Bishops underline the important contribution that older people continue to give to community life. According to estimates, the number of Australians over 65 years of age (now 3.6 million) will grow and will reach 8.9 million by mid-century. About 75% of men and 85% of women reach retirement in good health and has a life expectancy of about 20 years after retirement.
"There is a risk, however, that an unprepared society for demographic change can evaluate these trends as an economic threat. Already we hear terms of division as 'generational theft' or unpleasant comparisons among productive workers and retirees", said Mgr. Tarabay.
"Our community needs to ensure that costs and benefits of an aging population are shared equitably. Where policies encourage longer work years, on the other hand one has to make sure that vulnerable groups are protected from poverty", he continues, noting the need to "ensuring decent treatment" to all and not to abandon the elderly to solitude and abuses.
The Bishops deplore the "disposable culture" or "culture of waste" which considers even older people as superfluous, and advocate a "culture of compassionate care" that values and protects people in their last years of life, calling for solidarity among generations. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 06/09/2016)