• Robyn McDonald
Senior Citizens

The Minister for Senior Citizens, Hon Robyn McDonald today said that the Senior Citizens Post-Election briefing papers highlighted the importance of advocacy on behalf of senior citizens across a number of different policy areas ranging from health and housing to transport and support services.

"The document provides a very comprehensive picture of both the pro-active programmes being developed and implemented for and by older people and of the challenges for the next few years," said Mrs McDonald.

"I am impressed with the work which has been undertaken by the Senior Citizens Unit. There are a number of key programmes and policies which will further enhance the quality of life and assistance available to our senior citizens, such as positive ageing initiatives, and also the development by Income Support of the concept of "Super Centres" providing a specialised client-focused service for older people.

"I also believe that New Zealand society as a whole should value more greatly our senior citizens for their considerable life skills and experience. Too often they are overlooked and I intend to widely promote a change in attitude, particularly through encouraging the implementation of intergenerational programmes," the Minister said.

"With 1999 having been designated the United Nations International Year of Older Persons, New Zealand has an opportunity to make a difference on domestic and international levels. We can work together to ensure that our senior citizens are acknowledged and promoted as valued members of our society through pro-active initiatives and policies.

"I am also pleased with the progress being made in the co-ordination of government policies across the range of sectors. One such example is the elder abuse and neglect programmes currently operating in many locations throughout New Zealand which involve advisors from a range of key organisations.

"The Advisory Council for Senior Citizens also plays an important role on policy development and implementation by providing a valuable community perspective on issues of concern to older people. External organisations like GreyPower and Age Concern will also play an important role through discussing issues and the impact of policies on their members on a regular basis with me.

"Dealing with issues affecting older people does require a collective effort from government, community and departmental organisations, and I know that through this approach many more positive benefits can be achieved for our senior citizens," concluded Mrs McDonald.