Ready for Growth
Eastern Southland’s population is steadily ageing – in 2017, 41% of Gore District’s population were aged over 50.
Proactive attention to this fact now will ensure that Eastern Southland remains a great place to live for all ages. Older people bring enormous value to the community in many ways. This project will ensure that barriers to their participation are minimised so the benefits of Rural City Living are enhanced, maximised and enjoyed by all ages.
READY FOR LIVING
"living by giving"
Shaping the Gore environment to support older people; enabling them to be “active”
Enhancing the contribution made by older people to the community
The goals are primarily about attitudes:
- The idea that contributions from older people are vital to the future of Gore is known, understood and supported across the District.
- The idea that what is good for older people is good for the community is known, understood and supported across the District.
- The idea that investment in services, supports and activities that result in an enhanced contribution of older people to the community is known, understood and supported across the District.
- The idea that the “old” definition of retirement no longer exists and that there is an additional life-stage through which people may choose to contribute to the community in a different way is known, understood and supported across the District.
The Gore District Council has a strong agenda to lead the long-term sustainability of the District.
Central to both SORDS and the Gore District’s growth agendas is population growth in part through retention of the existing population. In addition, economic development opportunities will be reliant on the skills, knowledge and expertise of those in the District, so it is vital that those skills are not lost.
If those in the 65+ age continue to make a contribution locally, it will assist the local economy and support the emergence and advancement of the skills and contribution of following generations. This is contrary to commonly held view that older people who remain in jobs are restricting the opportunities for young people. In fact, the older generation creates opportunities through the ability of businesses to utilise their expertise and grow. Further, many older people see their older years as a time of “giving back”, whether through paid or unpaid work.
Balanced with this “contribution” is the reality that older people have needs and those needs increase with advancing age. Neutralisation of those needs through aids, urban design and all sorts of similar provisions enable older people to sustain their contribution longer into advanced age.
A number of key success factors have been identified from similar projects operating elsewhere and are relevant to the Gore situation:
- Community-driven – the key resource to these programme is older people themselves, so any programme needs to be designed and driven by them.
- Clear leadership – a highly motivated and well-networked steering Group or Working Group needs to be formed to carry the programme forward. The members need to be active participants willing to contribute, not representatives acting for other parties.
- Age-friendly mindset – age-friendly is not just a programme but a mindset that needs to be gradually adopted into the culture.
- Strategy – there needs to be a clear plan of action that is worked on systematically.
- Goal-focus – there needs to be clear and practical goals so that those involved know what they are striving for at any one time and where the priorities lie.
- Open-meetings – Visibility and transparency are vital, which means that the programme and the leadership needs to be as visible as possible.
- Community support and endorsement – the programme needs the overt back-up of local organisations and the Council. Active communication therefore vital.
- Hard and soft factors – age-friendly is about hard and soft factors: infrastructure, transport, health, community attitudes, social cohesion.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day – programmes like this require patience and dedication. They also require a long-term view because some initiatives such as in the infrastructure area could take years.
- Community-wide funding – funding needs to be widely sourced as part of developing acceptance and awareness of the ideas of age-friendly.
The Ready for Living project is a Gore District project, but has much broader implications and connections.
Gore District and Southland
The Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) has the stated goal of increasing Southland’s population by 10,000 people by 2025. This is supported by Gore District’s Ready for Growth goal of 1500 more people by 2030. This population increase will happen through both attraction of new people to Southland, and retention of people who may otherwise have left.
Traditionally, a move away from Southland and the Gore District has been a retirement goal for many. However attitudes towards retirement and ageing are changing: many wish to remain in employment for longer, families are more likely to be spread out, local access to health services are seen as more important… And these things are leading to an increased sense that Eastern Southland is a great place to retire. If this project can enable some of the remaining barriers to be addressed, it is likely that the reasons to leave the region will increasingly outweighed by the reasons to stay. Stage 1 of this project was funded by MBIE through SoRDS. It has relevance across all of Southland, but Gore was seen to be a contained district, with a positive interest in active ageing, and an ideal location for developing and trialling the concept. Further, this programme aligns with other initiatives in the Gore District, particularly those relating to its economic growth.
There are a number of projects in New Zealand that fit under the “age-friendly” banner. They are at all different stages of development. These are located in the following areas: Horowhenua, Kāpiti Coast, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Napier and West Coast. Hamilton has been the first to establish an official programme and is working to become recognised as an age-friendly city by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The Ministry of Social Development’s Office for Seniors is driving a Positive Ageing Review to develop an updated Positive Ageing Strategy. This review recognises the increasing percentage of NZs population aged 65 or older, and seeks to develop a strategy that will ensure that NZ is in a good position to deal with the demographic shift and the wider changes that are happening in society.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is looking to establish a global network for age-friendly cities and communities. The core idea of the WHO is “active ageing” and this “active” sentiment is totally in line with the direction of travel in the Gore project.
The WHO programme has a series of principles on which their programme rests. They regard these principles as starters and are not rigid about them. In the right-hand box is the set of principles, proposed for “Ready for Living” in Gore. The left-hand box contains the eight principles of the WHO.
- Outdoor spaces and buildings
- Social participation
- Respect and social Inclusion
- Civic participation and employment
- Communication and information
“Ready for Living” Principles
- Social participation
- Employment and volunteerism
The report from this feasibility study is available to download below along with a one page project overview that depicts the fundamentals of the project based on the feasibility outcomes.