June 7, 2011

NEW ZEALAND: Age friendly goal for Tauranga

TAURANGA, North Island / SunLive / News / June 7, 2011

The cliché about Tauranga being a city of the newly wed and nearly dead is about to be revived with the city council agreeing to lead the city into ‘age friendly cityship’.

It’s a World Health Organisation process that is now to be included in the 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan.

In deliberations on the annual plan submission, the Tauranga City Council decided to lead the process and give it priority so it can be slotted into the current 2012-2022 Ten Year Plan process.

The council decision is the result of successful lobbying by a collaboration of agencies that produced 89 submissions requesting the council commit to being an ‘age friendly city’.

“It is very heartening that the community voice was respected by the city council,” said Carole Gordon, convener of the 11 agency collaborative effort.

The Global Age Friendly Cities framework is promoted by the World Health Organisation as a guide for local governments to respond to planning for ageing populations.

What is an Age-friendly city?
An Age-friendly city is an inclusive and accessible
urban environment that promotes active ageing

It seeks to change systems and policies to meet the independence needs of growing numbers of mature and older people as the baby-boomer generation ages.

“What is really interesting is that when improvements are made to suit elders, the outcomes produce social and economic benefit for all generations,” says Carole. “While this is often hard to understand, we have to look ahead with a generous and not limited perspective, after all, this group will be largest set of consumers the world has ever known.”

In Tauranga, the number of people aged over 65 will increase by 50 per cent within the next 10 years and is projected to reach nearly 32,000 by 2026.

There are three steps in the process: the city council first has to undertake an assessment of how age friendly the city is now, develop a three year action plan, and then develop indicators to monitor progress.

The bureaucratic process is all determined by WHO and there is little flexibility if the formal ‘age friendly city’ status is to be achieved and maintained.

Tauranga may be the first council in New Zealand to make this decision, says Carole.

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