Age is no barrier to Tony’s ambition

Published 18 April 2006

Seventy-year-old Tony Bennett has thrown out a challenge to Northern Rivers' employers – "drop your prejudice against older workers and give me a job".

Tony, from Goonellabah, will be the oldest student to graduate at Southern Cross University's (SCU) graduation ceremonies at Lismore campus on Friday (April 21).

He has just completed a Bachelor of Legal and Justice Studies and is ready to accept a conveyancing traineeship with a firm of Lismore solicitors – if they will have him.

"There is a great deal of discrimination against mature age workers and a reluctance to give them a start and yet research shows they often make the best employees," Tony said.

"They have a great deal of life experience and maturity which makes them more reliable and committed to the job. With dependent children no longer on their hands, they take less time off work and can have more energy and enthusiasm for their job than younger people."

Professor Stanley Yeo, Head of SCU's School of Law and Justice, agrees wholeheartedly.

"In the area of law, mature age students have a lot to contribute both in the classroom and in the workplace environment," he said.

"They have a more refined sense of what is right and wrong and what is just and fair.

"They can draw more widely from their life experiences and therefore have a great deal more to contribute than young school leavers.

"I strongly suspect that there is a fair degree of indirect discrimination against older people which may hold them back from getting a job.

"There is a perception they may be slower to pick things up but my observation is that this is simply incorrect."

Tony Bennett's life experience covers everything from working for Prince Rajah Duleepsinghi, of India as an office assistant, to being a draftsman, carpenter, naval illustrator, graphic artist and signwriter.

In fact he still writes the weekly specials signs for retail outlets like Farmer Charlies in Lismore.

But his interest in law and real estate (he has been married for 35 years to his writer wife, Josephine, a former real estate agent) has inspired him to complete his university studies and carve a new career for himself.

Graduation ceremonies at the Lismore campus will be held on Friday, April 21 and Saturday April 29.

On Friday, April 21: 11.30am Faculty of Arts, School of Education; 3pm Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, Schools of Natural and Complementary Medicine and Nursing and Health Care Practices; 5.30pm Faculty of Arts, Schools of Arts and Law and Justice. Faculty of Business, Graduate College of Management.

On Saturday, April 29: 11.30am Faculty of Business, Schools of Commerce and Management and Tourism and Hospitality Management; 3pm Faculty of Arts, School of Multimedia and Information Technology. Faculty of Business, School of Social Sciences. Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Schools of Environmental Science and Management and Exercise Science and Sport Management.

Media contact: Zoe Satherley SCU media officer on 6630 3144 or 0439 132 095.