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Aotearoa New Zealand Is Failing Older People

Older people in this country are not being prioritised, and specific action must be taken immediately to better support and value this group now and into the future, the United Nations (UN) has been told.

In advance of International Day of Older Persons this Sunday 1 October, the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) has outlined how older people’s human rights are not being met in this country and called on the Government to take three practical steps to address this.

As part of their submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, which assesses a nation’s progress on human rights, NZCCSS showed how older people have been consistently disadvantaged and forgotten by successive Governments.

The submission highlights that older people are not considered a standalone group for many national strategies and action plans. In addition, the support systems for older people are underfunded and under constant strain, which has led to major crises in Age-Related Residential Care. Finally, ageism is so embedded it is accepted as “normal” and decisions made within this environment have significant negative impacts on our older people.

NZCCSS calls on the Government to commit to three actions: create an Older Persons poverty monitor, include older people as a specific group within national health and social strategies, improve funding and support for not-for-profit Age-Related Residential Care.

NZCCSS Kaiwhakahaere Matua Nikki Hurst hopes that political leaders take these findings seriously and implement the solutions suggested within the submission.

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She said “Our suggestions are practical, achievable and transformational. As a country, we already monitor child poverty, so we could adapt this system to monitor adult poverty to give us data to support what we know anecdotally. We already target other groups in our high-level strategies, so we could use this template to also target older people. We already have amazing community organisations in place who know how to provide excellent not-for-profit care to our older people, and with further support and funding they will be able to consistently do so.”

Collaborating with their members who represent 230 community organisations working around the motu, a deep understanding of everyday situations affecting people in our communities form the basis of NZCCSS’s work. However, this understanding does not appear to be grasped by those who wield political power.

Hurst continued, “We recently asked political parties about their policies for older people and were dismayed at the lack of focus and understanding of this area across the political spectrum. There will be one million older people in Aotearoa by 2028 and whoever is in Government after this election must take decisive and informed action to make sure our country is a better place for them. Except it’s not “them” – it’s “us”. We all age. Our country’s lack of preparedness for an ageing population should be of concern to us all.”

More information: Read the submission in full:

Read the Q&As with the political parties about supporting older people:

Read our report about older people in Aotearoa, Te Kōrero mō ngā Kaumātua:

Find out more about International Day of Older Persons:

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