Can you imagine what it will be like when the vast majority of the taxes we pay, will be spent on one, and only one sector of our community? The elderly. It is estimated that by the year 2010, nearly one third of all Australian's will be unable to contribute to our economy due to old age. This means, that in order to cope with this growing burden on our society, mass changes need to occur to the countries infrastructure. These changes need to be made not only socially, but economically and politically as well, so the growing trend in our demography does not hamper the growth and development of our nation. In this oral I will be outlining some of the key concerns of the issue, such as, what are the rights of the elderly? and what can we do to stem this ageing trend in our community?

This will be done in an attempt to answer, how do we look after Australia's ageing population? Firstly, what rights do the elderly members of our community have? After years of contributing to the countries tax system, the aged are surely entitled to something. Currently this in the form of a pension.

The elderly receive a small sum of money, which is granted by the government on a fortnightly basis. However, in the near future, with the sheer volume of people that will eligible for this service, the government will no longer have the funding to continue these handouts. Therefore social security may well become a thing of the past, and then the need for a new system will be paramount. Government initiatives such as the superannuation scheme, a program in which people are required to save a certain percentage of money of every dollar they make, may replace the current system and be the sole safety net for those in their old age. Thus there is a greater need for more of these initiatives, to ensure the future of not only the aged, but the economy as a whole. Secondly, what can we do to counter the ageing trend in Australian society?

A solution that has been in the news of late, is a plan to increase immigration. Australia is one of the largest countries in the world, yet we have one of the smallest populations. In this plan, the government intend to use this excess space, to open the doors to a controlled form of immigration, in which only younger people are allowed. They hope this may counter the effects of an ageing population, through stimulating the economy with greater activity and productivity. Another possible solution, is the legalisation of euthanasia, a form of mercy killing. This could dramatically reduce the number of people dependent on support in a humane way.

Concepts like these need to be analysed closely as they may offer a viable solution in controlling Australia's ageing population. Finally, we must look for the positives in this situation. What is it that we can learn from the elderly in our community? In this group we can find some of the most brilliant minds of our time, and just because they aren't as quick as they used to be, that doesn't mean they have nothing to contribute to our society. The life skills, the elderly have gained, must be put to better use than watching re-runs of the 'Wheel of Fortune'. Programs must be put in place so others can gain from their experiences.

We cannot see ageing as a negative or in the near future, when the elderly make up the bulk of our society, things will become all the more difficult. In conclusion, we cannot stand idly by and watch as the average age of the Australian population increases. We have to start planning now, start putting programs in place, and start making people aware of this growing problem in our society. The people of this nation need to show a greater tolerance of those in their old age.

We can learn a great deal from their experiences, and use them for the benefit of not only ourselves but the benefit of the wider community. When we take these things on board then and only then will there be a secure future for all who dwell in this country, young and old alike.