Annual report 2014 cover

Supporting older New Zealanders and disabled people

We promote positive ageing of older New Zealanders so that they are independent, respected, valued and recognised as an integral part of their families and communities.

Supporting older New Zealanders

Supporting independence for seniors

New Zealand’s population is getting older and more ethnically diverse. By 2036, around 1.2 million people, or 23 per cent of the total population, will be aged over 65.

New Zealand Superannuation, along with any other retirement savings, provides guaranteed income into old age. In 2013/2014, more than 650,000 New Zealanders received New Zealand Superannuation.

Good health and strong connections to family and community are important to independence and wellbeing for older New Zealanders. We support good health for seniors through our Community Services Card service, which provided access to subsidised health care and other related services to 17,771 seniors in 2013/2014.

We also issued 279,207 SuperGold Cards, which provide discounts and concessions to seniors and veterans. As at 30 June 2014, 7,218 businesses offer SuperGold Card discounts at 11,801 outlets.

Nearly 300,000 older New Zealanders have a Community Services Card, and more than 640,000 have a SuperGold Card.

We are supporting service providers, community groups and older people to work together to provide opportunities for older people to remain connected and reduce social isolation.

Examples of this include the Napier Connects initiative, which is working on new ways to reduce and prevent social isolation among older people, and SAGES, a volunteer-based mentoring programme, which runs in 16 locations. SAGES gives older New Zealanders opportunities to share their life experiences and knowledge in areas like home management, cooking, budgeting and parenting, and encourages them to be active members of their community. In 2013/2014, 595 families and whānau received services from SAGES.

Older people are respected, valued and recognised

In October 2013, the Minister for Senior Citizens released two reports relating to older people. The report Older New Zealanders: Healthy, Independent, Connected and Respected outlines the actions that Government is taking to demonstrate its commitment to the vision of the Positive Ageing Strategy. The Business of Ageing Update 2013 highlights that over the next four decades older New Zealanders are likely to make a significant contribution to the economy – both within the workforce (paid and unpaid) and as taxpayers.

In February 2014, the Minister for Senior Citizens launched the Carers’ Strategy Action Plan 2014-2018. We are one of the lead implementation agencies along with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Accident Compensation Corporation.

We are also working in partnership with Age Concern and other government and non-government agencies to widen the community’s understanding of, and response to, elder abuse. In support of this, we have funded 24 elder abuse and neglect prevention services throughout New Zealand. The Minister announced in April 2014 that additional funding will be provided for three new elder abuse and neglect prevention services.

We are encouraging people to protect their future through raising awareness of the importance of having an Enduring Power of Attorney, and by making the process easier for people to negotiate. In June 2014, the Minister presented her review of the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act, which has recommended a number of improvements.

Supporting disabled New Zealanders

New ways of working with disabled people’s organisations

The number of people identifying as disabled is increasing. While the ageing population may account for some increase, the changing public perception of disability (which may lead more people to report limitations on their ability to carry out daily tasks) and methodological improvements may also contribute to the increase.

The 2013 Disability Survey showed that 24 per cent of New Zealanders (1.1 million people) identified as having a long-lasting physical, sensory, mental or other functional impairment that limited their ability to function.

In April 2014, the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues approved a new Disability Action Plan for 2014-2018, which updates the Plan first introduced in 2010. In developing the new Plan, we worked closely with representative organisations of disabled people over six-months, which has achieved a very different look and feel from previous plans. The Plan was noted by the Cabinet Social Policy Committee in May 2014.

The latest Plan provides consistency in strategic priorities and is centred on the issues of greatest importance to disabled people, under the vision ‘All New Zealanders experience equal rights of citizenship’.

Enabling Good Lives

Enabling Good Lives is a partnership between government agencies and the disability sector, aimed at long-term transformation of how disabled people and their families are supported to live everyday lives. The Enabling Good Lives approach offers a flexible and tailored approach, where the disabled person and their family have choice and control over the support they receive to enable them to lead their lives.

In 2013/2014, we worked with the Ministries of Health and Education to begin a three-year demonstration of the Enabling Good Lives approach. A demonstration in Christchurch was co-designed with a local group of disabled people, their families and the disability sector and started with 52 school leavers with high or very high needs. A further 150 people are expected to join the demonstration’s second phase.

Next year, a demonstration is planned for Waikato, which will be co-designed and overseen by local groups of disabled people and their families.

The demonstrations will provide evidence to inform a business case for wider changes to the cross- government disability support system.

Think Differently

The Think Differently campaign is a key initiative of the Government’s Disability Action Plan that encourages and supports a fundamental shift in attitudes and behaviour towards disabled people. Working at both national and local levels, the campaign supports projects to engage with a variety of organisations and communities, including employers, educators, businesses, families, whānau, and other influencers.

In 2013/2014, the campaign supported 14 national partners to deliver nationwide projects. The Making a Difference Fund provided funding of $2 million to 40 community-led projects. One such project was the tactile, accessible map developed by Hamilton City Council to help people with vision impairments to navigate popular attractions around the city.

An evaluation undertaken this year found that the funded community projects are beginning to have a diverse range of impacts. For example, projects are creating practical opportunities for communities to be more inclusive of disabled people.

Building access review

In 2013/2014, the Office for Disability Issues worked with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on a review to determine whether the current building regulatory system meets the needs of disabled people.

The review aimed to increase understanding of how building access requirements are being implemented in new and older buildings and the extent to which they provide access to buildings for disabled people.

Recommendations from the review are being considered and will be announced later in 2014.