Starting a business or volunteering

This part of Work45+ has information about

For some older workers, being employed by someone else won’t be the most fulfilling option. You may have the financial flexibility to approach your working life differently. There are many options to think about, and support is available for some job seekers to take this different path.

If you’re over 55 you can choose to do combinations of self-employment, volunteering and paid employment. You can find more information about these arrangements here.

Starting a business

The Australian and Tasmanian governments have a range of assistance for people starting their own small businesses. One of the most comprehensive is the New Business Assistance with NEIS program. This can give you an allowance for up to 39 weeks and rental assistance for up to 26 weeks.

If you’re looking for advice to start your own small business, you can talk to an entrepreneurship facilitator. They have a particular focus on mature-age Australians at risk of unemployment due to structural changes in the economy. There are facilitators in Launceston and Hobart.

Tasmanian business coach Lesley Hazelwood says starting a small business can be a good option for the right person, but there are a couple of things to consider:

“Make sure you undertake sound research into your ideas and conduct a market feasibility check before spending much money at all. Many people have lost money who thought they were onto a good thing because their idea wasn’t available only to find out too late that the reason for its unavailability was there was no money to be made.

“A good deal of networking is required in looking for employment or in finding other opportunities and making them work, so gain these skills and practice them every chance you get. You never know who and what information others can provide till you start a conversation.”
– Lesley Hazelwood 1

For more options and information, check our “Resources to help you start a business” box below.


Volunteering can help you fulfil your mutual obligation requirements if you’re over 55 and receiving income support. More importantly, it can make you happy, give you a sense of purpose, and help you meet people, gain skills and possibly find paid employment.

If you wish your volunteering work to contribute to your mutual obligations for income support, the voluntary work provider and the voluntary work will also have to be approved.

The best place to start looking for information about volunteer work is Volunteering Tasmania. It has a search option called Volunteer Connect. Alternatively,  you can choose to attend an introductory session or book an appointment with a referral officer. (Introductory sessions and appointments with referral officers have been suspended during the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency.)

“Around 4 out of 5 Tasmanians volunteered in the past year, giving 7.1 million hours of their time. Volunteers from all walks of life are a vital part of every community and contribute so much to our society.”
– Volunteering Tasmania2

Remember that volunteer work is work. You will be expected to approach it with the dedication and enthusiasm you would bring to paid work. And because it’s work, you should include it in your resume wherever appropriate.

Resources to help you start a business

Tasmanian Government information and assistance:

Australian Government information and assistance:

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  1. Lesley Hazelwood 2020, Director Work and People
  2. Volunteering Tasmania 2014, For Volunteers