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How does New Zealand protect the Human Rights of our older people?

Seeing that this years theme of the UN’s International Day of Older Person is  “Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions“ I thought we should explore how New Zealand as a country is protecting and promoting the rights of our older people.

In 2015, AgeWatch index named New Zealand the 12th best country for older person wellbeing of the 96 countries measured. New Zealand ranked 23rd on Income Security, 9th on Health Status, 14th on Capability and 30th for Enabling Societies and Environment. So clearly we are doing pretty well in some areas, but there could be improvement in other areas.

Lets highlight the good:

One of the most important documents in relation to policy on older people is the Positive Ageing Strategy which was initiated in 1999 in response to the International Year of Older Persons. The vision for New Zealand articulated  in the strategy is that of “a society where people can age positively, where older people are highly valued and where hey are recognised as an integral part of families and communities.” The Strategy’s 10 goals guide policies and programmes across central and local government, to improve opportunities for older people to participate in their communities in ways they choose.

To read the Positive Ageing Strategy, click here. The Positive Ageing Strategy is getting a rethink to plan for the future needs of older people in New Zealand – click here to see how you can get involved in the process.

New Zealand also does well in regards to making sure people are involved in decision making when it comes to their life. Provisions in the Protection of Personal Property Rights Act (1988) and the Health and Disability Commissioner’s Code of Health and Disability Services Consumer’s Rights require that a person who is mentally impaired or incapable be involved in decisions that concern them to the extent that they are able. These provisions include the exercise of enduring power of attorney in relation to personal care and welfare, (the Act) and the right to make an informed choice and give informed consent (the Code).

Another great thing is that New Zealand has a universal superannuation. When a New Zealand Citizen or Resident turns 65 they are entitled to receive New Zealand Superannuation. Older people are also able to get SuperGold cards which allows them to receive discounts for a variety of things, including free off-peak travel on public transport systems.

We also have a Retirement Commissioner which has a focus on improving New Zealanders financial literacy, reviewing retirement income policy, and monitoring retirement villages’ legislation. Win!

There is no compulsory retirement age in New Zealand. New Zealand has one of highest rates of labour-force participation of older people in the OECD. Go us!

While we may have some things to improve on, New Zealand is not too bad of a place to grow old in!

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams
Eve Williams is the Production and Social Media Administrator for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.

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