Age Concern has advocated for older people’s rights and welfare in some regions for over 60 years and nationally for over 40 years. In February 1972, the National Old People’s Welfare Council was incorporated, officially becoming Age Concern New Zealand in 1991. Over this time Age Concern has done some amazing things for older people in New Zealand.
Age Concern as a national organisation emerged as a recommendation of the 1967 report looking into Care of the Aged in New Zealand. The main objective being that this would help achieve “co-operation and improved co-ordination amongst the various statutory and voluntary agencies involved in the welfare and care of old people.” This role developed and in a 1986 report, Age Concern expressed that they wished to be a voice for older people; “A voice which speaks clearly and persistently on issues affecting the concerns of the elderly in the widest possible sense of the word.” And that they have.
Since its creation, Age Concern has been championing ideas around older people’s rights and welfare, especially in the areas of elder abuse and neglect. They have conducted research on a multitude of issues facing older people. Age Concern has also made representations to local and national government on behalf of older people, highlighting and bringing to their attention the needs of older people in New Zealand. The have lobbied on many issues including income, housing, health, employment, social services, education, pre- and post-retirement.
Age Concern strives to create a New Zealand in which everyone is valued, supported and empowered no matter how old they are. And they want to encourage people to live in a way that allows this. They have created a project titled “Age Concern Dignity Champions” which asks for New Zealanders from all walks of life to work together towards this common goal.
An Age Concern Dignity Champion pledges to:
1. Reject stereotypes and focus on the uniqueness of every individual
2. Speak up when they hear people speaking negatively about growing old
3. Have the courage to question practices they feel are disrespectful to older people
4. Not patronise older people
5. Be patient, polite and friendly
6. Have zero tolerance for abuse or neglect
7. Build relationships – they combat isolation and loneliness by getting to know the older people in their lives.
For more information about Age Concern and their Dignity Champions, click here.