Minister celebrates International Year of Older Persons

  • David Carter
Senior Citizens

Senior Citizens Minister Hon David Carter today took a break from Parliament to celebrate International Day of Older Persons by mingling with crowds of older people at a Seniors Expo at Wellington's Queens Wharf.

Mr Carter said it had been a challenging week to be Senior Citizens Minister with changes to New Zealand Superannuation and the Income and Asset testing regime, but he was confident that the older community would understand the reasoning behind the changes.

"The Superannuation change, forced on us by difficult economic times, will ensure future generations of senior citizens will be able to receive state support without reducing the payments we make to today's retired people."

"It's frustrating that the issue has been used as a political football, but the facts are nobody is going to lose any dollars from their pension now or in the future."

The new Income and Asset testing regime was also fairer because the thresholds had been raised, allowing older people to keep more of their assets before paying for long term care.

"The new regime actually ensures that the people who need help most, get it, rather than an earlier proposal that supported all, even the well off," said Mr Carter.

He urged older people with concerns or people who were confused about the changes to contact his office for more details.

The Minister also praised the launch of two new initiatives for older people. Nine national support training programmes and support for carer organisations had been announced this week, at a cost of $2.5million to the Government over three years.

The Government would also boost elder abuse and neglect services around the country with the announcement an additional 12 services would be funded, on top of the existing 10 services. (More To Come) "Elder abuse is more prevalent than most people think and the Government has recognised this with an extra $1million going into services for older people who are victims of elder abuse and neglect," he said.

Mr Carter also launched the New Zealand logo for the United Nation's International Year of Older Persons today.

The International Year which runs from today until 31 December next year is represented by a logo featuring a swirl of vivid purple, orange and brown with the theme "Towards a Society for All Ages".

Mr Carter said older people had a lot to look forward to in the coming year, with seminars, community events and research projects celebrating the International Year and the theme of positive ageing.

"In New Zealand our unique theme is "Valuing Older People" and Government has already allocated half a million dollars for a national strategy to mark the year."

"Our older community is going to be the centre of attention in 1999, and this is quite special. The International Year of Older Persons gives us the opportunity to value our older members and the contributions they have made in this century, before we enter the next one."