University Of Tasmania

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Discrimination against older people during the coronavirus pandemic: a case study in ageism

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 21:42 authored by Peta CookPeta Cook
Australian socio-political responses to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have often simplistically connected health and risk to body and age. In Australia, older people have cast as the ‘vulnerable’ and ‘the elderly’ and reduced to stereotypes of frailty and decline. Due to their age, it has been believed that older Australians are automatically at risk of COVID-19, which has homogenised 16 percent of Australia’s population (aged 65 years and over) (AIHW 2021). At the same time, those older Australians who live in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) (~6% of older Australians; Dyer et al 2020), were put at heightened risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2: in 2020, 75 percent of deaths in Australia from COVID-19 were people living in RACFs (AIHW 2021), making it amongst the highest in the world (Power 2020). In addition, from 1 January to 18 February 2022, 742 RACF residents died from COVID-19; higher than the death rates in 2020 (n = 685) and 2021 (n = 282) (Australian Government 2022). Thus, while the strong public health approach by Australian federal and state/territory governments during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 minimised the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, ageism has ensured that older Australians have been diminished.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 2022 TASA Conference


PS Cook, S Daly and R Wilkinson


1 piece- abstract




School of Social Sciences



Place of publication


Event title

TASA Conference

Event Venue

University of Melbourne

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Social class and inequalities; Expanding knowledge in human society