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Pensioners Working Part-Time at a Co-Op

Video clip synopsis – Some people experience retiring like hitting a brick wall, finding it hard to live on such a dramatically reduced income. "Beehive" is a Seniors employment co-operative where pensioners can work to earn a few dollars without affecting their Social Security payments.
Year of production - 1983
Duration - 1min 54sec
Tags - beehive, belonging, communities, cooperative, isolation, pensioner, retirement, senior, work, see all tags


Pensioners Working Part-Time at a Co-Op

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About the Video Clip


Pensioners Working Part-Time at a Co-Op is an excerpt from the film Hitting A Brick Wall (15 mins), an episode of the series Ageing in the New Age (7 × 15mins), produced in 1983.

Hitting A Brick Wall: For some people the act of retirement is an unexpected shock. How can one properly prepare? This program looks at several people who have approached retirement in different ways.

Ageing in the New Age: With an ageing population, the world is approaching a crisis and community debate is growing on the issues raised by ageing populations. Each program in this series of seven films deals with one of those issues: approaches to retirement, community support systems that foster independence, living on a pension, ways the elderly are still contributing to the community, the position of elders in different cultural traditions, the problem of dementia and managing financial investments. They are generally optimistic and uplifting programs, full of innovative ideas and inspiration.

Ageing in the New Age was produced by Film Australia with the assistance of AMP Society.

Background Information


Australia is an ageing society.

Australia’s population is ageing and in international terms it is ageing relatively fast. Twenty years ago, 9% of the Australian population or 1.3 million people were aged 65 years and over. By 1996 this had increased to 12% of the population or 2.2 million people and by 2016 this is projected to increase to 16% of the population or 3.5 million people.

The internal age structure of the older population is also changing quite significantly. In 1976, one in six older people was aged 80 and over, by 1996 it was one in five and by 2016 it is expected to be one in four. In the next twenty years, the number of people in Australia aged 80 will grow by 63% from 486,200 in 1996 to 794,500 by 2016.

Work is an important part of adult life. When the eight hour working day was introduced, it stated that the day was divided up into eight hours work, eight hours rest and eight hours recreation. Many people either work more than eight hours and/or sleep less than eight hours. The eight hours that should be devoted to 'play’ are often taken up with working, managing a household and caring for children, so that when they reach retirement, some people do not have the skills or networks to know how to 'play’.

For many people, their social network is based around work. When they retire that network is gone. They have no daily contact for social exchange and no prospect of future social functions. For people who have worked in a regular job for a number of years, maintaining a structure in their lives can be important. Volunteering work offers this structure and a way to feel that you are still a valued member of the community.

In this video clip, pensioners can work at a co-op without affecting their pension and at the same time this provides them with entertainment and activities.

Classroom Activities


Pre-viewing exercises:

  1. Describe the life of one retiree that you know. In this description consider:
    1. Why do they get up in the morning?
    2. What do they do all day?
    3. From where does their money come?
    4. In what ways do they feel connected to the community?
    5. In what ways do they feel disconnected from the community?

First viewing:

  1. The first few shots of this video clip show similar subjects. Describe the shot composition and explain how this creates a sense of community.
  2. The narrator stresses ‘discipline’.
    1. Why do you think that discipline is important to the narrator?
    2. What filmic techniques emphasise the importance of discipline in a daily routine for a retiree?
  3. Think about beehives.
    1. Make a list of five adjectives that describe a beehive.
    2. Why is this word apt for describing the activities of the seniors?
    1. Why do you think the manager calls his workers ‘seniors’ and not ‘pensioners’?
    2. In what ways would using ‘pensioners’ detract from the workers’ sense of belonging?
    3. In what ways would using ‘seniors’ contribute to the workers’ sense of belonging?
  4. Which shots of the seniors allow the audience to appreciate their sense of belonging?
  5. At times the camerawork creates the sense that the audience is a part of the action on screen.
    1. Which camera techniques include the audience in the action?
    2. Why would the director choose to give the audience a sense of belonging in the narrative?

Creative Writing Exercise (40 minutes):

Write a feature article exploring the concerns of retirees – consider their continued participation in the community and the ways their sense of belonging is challenged by retiring from work.

Further Resources


AXA, ‘Portrait of Italian Pensioners – Poor, sad and isolated: but there is desire for change’

Brotherhood of St Laurence, ‘Social Exclusion among older people – a preliminary study from inner-city Melbourne’

Queensland Government, ‘Cross Government Project to Reduce Social Isolation of Older People’

Australian Government, ‘Loneliness and Social Isolation’

Refugee Health Research Centre, ‘Ageing Out of Place: Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Seniors from Refugee Backgrounds’

Department of Health and Ageing, ‘Historic Meeting of Ministers for Ageing/Seniors – responding to Australia’s changing demographics’