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Local Councils delivering on Positive Ageing

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Senior Citizens

15 October 2008 Media Statement

Local Councils delivering on Positive Ageing initiatives

A growing number of local councils are delivering practical initiatives which will improve the lives of older people in their communities as part of the New Zealand Positive Ageing Strategy, says Senior Citizens Minister, Ruth Dyson.

Launching the eighth Action Plan for the Strategy, Ms Dyson says 36 local government authorities contributed this year with initiatives that include housing upgrade projects, accessibility to public transport, rates rebate schemes, mentoring programmes and free parking for older drivers.

"The New Zealand Positive Ageing Strategy envisages a society where people can age positively, where older people are highly valued, and where they have continuing opportunities for participation. I am impressed with the number of exciting initiatives that are being undertaken, particularly by local councils," said Ms Dyson.

Following a review of the goals and objectives of the Strategy earlier this year, the annual planning and reporting cycle has moved to a two-yearly cycle.

"This will assist government agencies to plan for and complete longer-term policy projects and allows the Office for Senior Citizens to allocate more time working with councils not in the Action Plan," said Ms Dyson.

Forty-one central government agencies also contributed to the latest Action Plan. These contributions included increasing the number of discounts for SuperGold cardholders, including free off-peak public transport travel for cardholders, the construction, insulation and modernisation of housing units for older people, and supporting fair and inclusive human resource policies for the employment and promotion of older workers.

"Positive ageing is becoming well understood in New Zealand and this makes us the envy of many other countries in the world. I am encouraged by the commitment of everyone who has contributed to this document. The work that older people do to make their communities a better place to live in, also helps communities to appreciate the knowledge, skills and experience that they bring to society to keep positive ageing alive," said Ms Dyson.

The New Zealand Positive Ageing Strategy Annual Report 2007–2008 and the Action Plan 2008–2010 and highlights are available on the website www.osc.govt.nz

ENDS


Selected achievements from the Annual Report 1 July 2007 – 30 June 2008

Government Departments

• Senior Services and Older People’s Policy, Ministry of Social Development launched the SuperGold Card for older people in New Zealand and significantly increased the number of participating businesses offering discounts to cardholders to 861

• Inland Revenue supported legislation establishing compulsory employer contributions for employees in the KiwiSaver Scheme, and employer tax credits for employers in the Scheme from April 2008

• Accident Compensation Corporation completed work to introduce the Bill to amend the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act 2001 for enactment on 1 August 2008. This will improve access to vocational rehabilitation and assist older clients in their rehabilitation and recovery from injury

• Land Transport New Zealand completed best practice guidelines and contracts to support councils and transport providers offering Total Mobility services

• New Zealand Fire Service Commission installed smoke alarms in 8,224 older people’s homes and used the Seniors FireWise Kit to deliver the Confident Living Programme to older people in over 5,000 households

Local Government
• Upper Hutt City Council distributed Life Tubes to seniors that contain personal and medical information about the owner that is useful for paramedics to access in an emergency
• Hamilton City Council in partnership with Sport Waikato held exercise classes twice a week, regular Tai Chi classes and delivered fitness programmes across the city. Over 250 older people attended weekly
• North Shore City Council provided $43,000 to upgrade 378 older people’s units, installing walk-in showers and handrails and applying non-slip surfaces to ramps and paths

Selected highlights from the Action Plan 1 July 2008 – 30 June 2010

Government Departments
• Work and Income Northland, Ministry of Social Development in partnership with Runanga O Whangaroa will visit older Māori in rural communities in their homes and at marae clinics. This will assist older Māori with information about entitlements and community services

• Housing New Zealand will insulate 4,000 to 5,000 homes and will launch the Shared Equity Programme for people with household incomes of $55,000 to $85,000 so that more people can enjoy the benefits of home ownership as they age

• Department of Labour will investigate ways to provide additional leave for carers and support carers currently in the workforce. The department will look at ways to support carers into employment and improve ways to recognise the skills and experience they acquire while caring

• Ministry of Health will complete the InterRAI project plan, the national guidelines and funding policy and will implement the InterRAI home-care assessment tool across half of the District Health Boards in New Zealand. This will provide high quality comprehensive assessments for older people

• Families Commission will complete research and report on the changing role of grandparents in New Zealand. The research findings will be available on www.nzfamilies.org.nz

Local Government
• Carterton District Council is repairing and altering kerbs and footpaths in the district improving the safety of pedestrians and users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters
• Dunedin City Council is providing all drivers 75+ with a parking permit allowing free parking on a meter, or at a pay and display machine, for the maximum meter time

• New Plymouth District Council and the New Plymouth Positive Ageing Trust in collaboration with the business community will hold a seminar promoting the advantages of employing mature jobseekers


ENDS

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