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Landmark agreement for Bay’s ageing population

Landmark agreement for Bay’s ageing population

Western Bay’s baby boomer population grabbed the limelight this week with the signing of an agreement between local government and the district health board to examine the impact of the ageing population on the sub-region.

On the initiative of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (DHB), an advisory group has been formed to collaborate with SmartGrowth partners - Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Tauranga City Council, Environment Bay of Plenty and tangata whenua - to improve the social and economic wellbeing of the ageing population.

DHB chairwoman Mary Hackett and SmartGrowth chairman Bill Wasley, signed a Memorandum of Understanding at a special ceremony at Western Bay Council on Wednesday, 13 February, to officially launch PATAG (the Population and Ageing Technical Advisory Group).

The PATAG project was sparked by a need to examine the social, economic, cultural and environmental impact of increasing numbers of older people and distinct ageing communities in the region.

It is believed to be the first time in New Zealand that local government and a district health board has collaborated to examine the challenges of population ageing. This includes the social and economic impacts of the ageing population now and in the future.

In 2006 (Census), in the Western Bay sub-region, there were 2600 people aged over 80. Under SmartGrowth’s population projections, by 2035 there will be 36,000 people aged over 80. This is four times the current population of Te Puke.

Mrs Hackett said the Government had mandated health boards to work with local bodies.

“The signing of this Memorandum is an historic occasion and is an example of how we are going to work with the three Councils and PATAG,” she said.

She encouraged the fostering of age-friendly communities and for PATAG to “put arms out in to the community’” to find out how to plan and work with other groups to achieve its goals.

Mr Wasley congratulated the DHB for its initiative in developing a collaborative approach to tackling the region’s ageing population.

“Given that SmartGrowth is the local government partnership with tangata whenua, it is pleasing to see a non-local government agency taking up the challenge.

`”One of the underlying strengths of SmartGrowth has been the collaborative approach to strategy development and implementation. This is a good example of that approach extending beyond the local government partners,” said Mr Wasley.

He said PATAG had great potential because of the wealth of knowledge and experience of its members. However, he highlighted the huge challenge ahead and warned PATAG not to “bite off more than it could chew”.

“It is about picking up some issues and working those through and getting some early achievements under your belt,” said Mr Wasley.

The DHB commissioned social and public policy specialist Carole Gordon, of Tauranga, to develop the initiative. The initiative has been funded by the Government through a Health Innovations Grant.

PATAG has already made submissions to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council Built Environment Strategy and the Smart Living Strategy.


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