Optimistic after reading wellbeing strategy

Members of Dunedin's ageing population are pleased to be on the Dunedin City Council's agenda, following the release of its draft social wellbeing strategy this week.

Age Concern Otago executive officer Susan Davidson said the ageing community "have never been considered specifically before" and her "optimism has increased" after reading the report.

"The DCC was one of the first city councils to have an older persons policy, but that older persons policy is very, very old and was due for review many, many years ago.

"As far as the ageing population goes, the DCC provides a great deal of social housing, but clearly the needs of the population are wider than that," she said.

The draft strategy was the city's first cohesive initiative that aimed to provide a social wellbeing framework for the next 10 years.

It complemented the existing spatial plan, economic and transportation strategies and would go before the council's community and development committee on Monday for approval for community consultation.

Developed through feedback from the Your City Our Future work and annual plan submissions, the draft identified challenges facing the city.

An ageing population, low income levels, poor housing stock, unhealthy lifestyles, and the withdrawal of government services and funding, were pinpointed as key issues.

Strategic directions to address those issues were connected people, vibrant and cohesive communities, healthy and safe people, a reasonable standard of living for all, and affordable and healthy homes.

Three implementation pathways were identified to achieve the goals - manaakitanga, ensuring residents had access to information, services and opportunities; stronger communities, supporting community-led activities; and better homes, to improve the quality of Dunedin's housing stock.

Ms Davidson believed all the strategies would benefit the ageing population as "whatever is good for older people is good for everybody".

Of concern for Ms Davidson was how the city would find space for new, warm housing to replace old, cold stock, and the maintenance and size of footpaths to provide safe use for mobility scooters and pedestrians.

Mobility scooters were a particular issue in Mosgiel, but as an increasingly large number of people age, mobility scooters would become more common.

"They are an excellent transport option [but] our 'share the road' or 'share the space' message really needs to include mobility scooters."

As a community, she also believed we needed to move away from thinking about an ageing population merely as a cost.

"Our focus has to be on how we can best reap the rewards of an ageing population and the positive input it can have. I'm sure there are many if we can put our heads together."

Consultation on the draft was expected to run for eight weeks from early August.

Copies would be available online from next Wednesday at: www.dunedin.govt.nz/social wellbeing.


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