Wellington, New Zealand Older Persons' Policy

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Wellington, New Zealand

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Type: Policy

Status: Adopted in 2005

Source File: http://www.wellington.govt.nz/plans/policies/olderpersons/pdfs/older-persons-policy.pdf


New Zealand’s population is ageing. People aged 65 years and over currently make up 12 percent of the total population and that proportion is projected to rise to 18 percent by 2021. By mid-century it is estimated that older people will make up around 26 percent of all New Zealand residents1. This trend is reflected in Wellington’s population projections which include a significant growth in the proportion of the population aged over 65 from 8.5% in 2001 to 11.9% in 2021.

Other trends include

  • the ethnic and social diversity of the older population increasing
  • more older people will be better educated and may seek more work options at age 65
  • with a smaller workforce population (aged 25-65) and economic growth there will be additional demands on the labour market and employers may increasingly seek to employ older people
  • gradually increasing numbers of older people who have never owned their own homes
  • the gender imbalance decreasing in future years2. (At present women live longer than men, and make up the majority of the older population.)

In both research and government policy papers, older persons tend to be defined as those who are 65 and over. Many people who were consulted, and Maori in particular, articulated how much older people and kaumatua are valued in the community. They also indicated that they view older people and kaumatua in relation to stages of the life cycle, whanau leadership and the holistic life experiences that have contributed to that person’s status, mana and wisdom rather than being on the basis a person being 65 years old. In addition, some distinctions are made between frail elderly and active older people on the basis of age. Those distinctions also tend to be arbitrary as age is not necessarily a determinant of frailty or level of activity.

The Older Persons’ Policy is underpinned by the Council’s Social Strategy. It is part of implementation of that strategy and therefore contributes to the outcomes and objectives set in the Strategy. It has also been developed to closely align with the New Zealand Positive Ageing Strategy managed by the Ministry of Social Development. The policy should be read in conjunction with both of those documents.

The Social Strategy
The WCC Social Strategy has a focus on building strong communities and specifies outcomes concerned with developing potential, access to resources, cultural diversity, city decision making and participation.

The outcomes the Council wishes to achieve through the Social Strategy are:

  • Developing potential: People are encouraged to develop their full potential as individuals and members of the community
  • Cultural diversity: Wellington welcomes, values and celebrates a diversity of cultures
  • Participation: People are encouraged to participate in community networks
  • Access to resources: All residents are able to access community resources and public services
  • City decision-making: People are encouraged to participate in the decision-making and development of their city.

The Positive Ageing Strategy
The Government has responded to the anticipated increased number of older people by developing a Positive Ageing Strategy (2001) which affirms and supports the contribution of older people in society, and sets down ten goals, each with a set of actions that aim to improve opportunities for older people to participate in the community.

It was apparent from the consultation for this Policy that the Positive Ageing Strategy developed by the Ministry of Social Development was an effective framework to address the issues and priorities of Wellington’s older people and rather than “re-inventing the wheel” that framework and its goals have been replicated for the policy.

The vision of the Positive Ageing Strategy is

“For a society where people can age positively, where older people are highly valued and where they are recognised as an integral part of families and communities. New Zealand will be a positive place in which to age when older people can say that they live in a society that values them, acknowledges their contributions and encourages their participation.”

It has an overarching aim to improve opportunities for older people to participate in the community in the ways that they choose. As part of that Strategy, a Positive Ageing Action Plan is developed each year and monitored by the Ministry of Social Development.

Central government is responsible for the implementation of the Positive Ageing Strategy and takes the lead in terms of meeting the goals of the Strategy. However territorial local authorities are encouraged to contribute to the Strategy, and it is proposed that the Wellington City Council contribute to the action plan by advising of its actions that support the Strategy and reporting back on achievements. This Policy articulates the contribution that the Wellington City Council can make to those goals while acknowledging the leadership role that central government agencies have. In many areas the Council’s role is one of advocacy based on its close relationship to the community.

The Positive Ageing Strategy includes ten goals each with action points. The goals are concerned with income, health; housing; transport; ageing in place, cultural diversity; rural, attitudes; employment and opportunities. This policy contributes directly to all of these goals except for those concerned with rural and income.

This policy articulates how the Wellington City Council will contribute to those eight goals. Specifically the goals are:

1. Housing - Affordable and appropriate housing options for older people.
2. Transport - Affordable and accessible transport options for older people.
3. Opportunities and Information - Increasing opportunities for personal growth and community participation
4. Health - Equitable, timely, affordable and accessible health services for older people
5. Ageing in Place (safety) - Older people feel safe and secure and can “age in place”
6. Attitudes - People of all ages have positive attitudes to ageing and older people
7. Cultural diversity - A range of culturally appropriate services allows choices for older people
8. Employment - Elimination of ageism and the promotion of flexible work options