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Looking After the Baby Boomers

Looking After the Baby Boomers. Workshop presentation to the 2007 Local Government New Zealand Conference: Roger Blakeley, Mayor and Peter McKinlay, Chief Executive, Friendly City Council. The Friendly City Story.

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Looking After the Baby Boomers

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  1. Looking After the Baby Boomers Workshop presentation to the 2007 Local Government New Zealand Conference: Roger Blakeley, Mayor and Peter McKinlay, Chief Executive, Friendly City Council

  2. The Friendly City Story • This presentation looks back over Friendly City’s 15 year journey in working with its older citizens and looks forward at what is still to come. • The story begins with the rates revolt in 2007.

  3. The 2007 Rates Revolt • Friendly City’s 2006-2016 LTCCP forecast rates increases averaging 9% per annum. • There was a major outcry from the city’s older citizens, and the threat of a rates strike. • A group of older people formed CRAPH – Citizens Revolting Against Political Hacks – to contest the 2007 elections.

  4. The 2007 Elections • The CRAPH candidate almost unseated the sitting Mayor. Three CRAPH candidates won seats on our 10 member Council. • It was a real wake-up call. Friendly City’s older citizens were on the march. • What to do? Previous councils had generally left older people to their own devices.

  5. A few facts • People 65 + were 12.5 % of the population, would be 17% in 10 years and 20% in 15 years. • Many could expect 20-30 years of life after 65. Accumulated skills and experience were very substantial. • Individual incomes averaged $15,000. Most owned their own homes but making ends meet was increasingly difficult. A real fear for the city’s older people was what would happen if their health failed.

  6. The Council Response • Was this a problem or an opportunity? • Not just an issue for the Council. It is an issue for the whole community. • So, Council decided to hold a series of city-wide fora on long-term issues and directions for the city in managing our response to an ageing population

  7. The 2009 Fora • We got a high level of participation from youth to older people reflecting the preparation the council had put in, and the endorsement of CRAPH councillors. • The Fora endorsed a vision of Friendly City as a place where people of all ages could lead fulfilled lives. • The council was given a mandate to develop practical means for realising the vision.

  8. Getting on with it • We committed 2010 to developing strong working relationships with older people, based on partnerships with the Council. • This produced a new value proposition – that age and experience was one of the city’s most valuable resources.

  9. Some practical outcomes • Our partnerships with older people suggested and Council adopted a wide range of initiatives. Among them: • A major mentoring programme for youth with older people helping youth build leadership skills, make career choices and learn the values of good citizenship. Friendly City now has the lowest rate of youth offending, and the highest NCEA scores in the country. • Drawing on older people’s skills and experience through a series of “citizens’ commissions” helping develop Council policy especially in areas such as health, housing, education and skills.

  10. Some practical outcomes… cont’d • The Mayor (borrowing from President Kennedy) gave an inspirational speech “Ask not what your City can do for you, ask what you can do for your City”. • There was a flood of volunteers, especially from older persons to take leadership roles in community activism to: • Finally get rid of graffiti. • Make Friendly City litter free • Supergrans looking after young • Beautification programmes. • Friendly City came top in NZ in 2010 in the Quality of Life Survey of the 12 cities.

  11. Older Person Friendly – A Point of Difference The Council adopted a strategy to adopt older person friendly policies as a point of difference to attract their skills into the community. This included: • Free prostate and mamogram checks • Free artificial limbs • Free public transport • Free access to aquatic and recreation centres. • High speed broadband access to all. • Subsidised access mobility scooters and lanes on the footpaths. The costs of this policy were easily outweighed by the benefits as more older persons came to the City to fill scarce skill needs. Also, friendly City became the retirement home capital of NZ.

  12. The 2010-2013 Council: a new vision • The 2010-2013 Council came to office committed to building on the success of the past three years. • Active advocacy became a primary role – Council demanded that health sector silos deliver seamless service to older people. Central government agreed to establishing a pilot project in Friendly City for the Council to have the authority to oversee coordination of the delivery of health services for older people. • The growing confidence of older people in the Council supported increased use of rates postponement and other tools to help ageing in place initiatives including affordable energy and home maintenance funded through targeted rates and postponement.

  13. And a longer-term focus • Labour market changes made our older population an increasingly important resource. • The 2013-2016 Council made education and skills training for older people a priority. Working with government and the local tertiary institution, we took the first steps that have made Friendly City an international leader in continuous skill development for older people and given us the highest labour force participation rate worldwide for people in the 75+ age-group.

  14. Communities working together • The continuous skills development initiative was also a partnership with the private and voluntary sectors. • Their involvement was a real positive. It helped them realise just how valuable older people really are. • We now have a permanent waiting list for graduates of the skills development initiative who are treated as preferred applicants by many of Friendly City’s employers.

  15. Adjusting to the New Strategy • Over the years the community had to make some major adjustments. • Older persons with skills and time available became dominant players in Council and Community Trusts – to the nervousness of some younger residents. • Younger people worried that they were being expected to take an increased share of the rates burden from ever increasing elderly – and a lobby group, Young Ratepayers Association of Friendly City (YRAFC) almost seized control of Council in 2013.

  16. Taking back control • Older people told us that they wanted to control the choices they had for retirement living. • The 2016-2019 Council made this a priority, taking a lead in the development of a series of co-operatively on retirement villages, undercutting Australian private equity and significantly improving the quality of life for residents.

  17. The 2019-2022 Council • This Council is in the happy situation of building on the years of success in working positively with its older citizens. • Satisfaction surveys show a 95% plus rating from citizens aged 65 + something virtually unheard of elsewhere. • We are building on this support to add to the achievements of past years.

  18. Looking forward • Friendly City has been a real trailblazer in working effectively with its older citizens. • We have forged genuine partnerships and used those to get other stakeholders to support important initiatives in areas such as health, education, community and social development, co-operatively controlled housing for older people and much more. • We are now internationally recognized for our success. Friendly City is building a whole new sphere of economic activity supporting and advising other councils on how best to work with their older populations.

  19. The Pay off • It’s not just the older people who have really gained from what we have done. • All the evidence shows that, by recognizing the needs of older people, and working in partnership with them, the whole community has benefited. • Youth, employers, people in the prime of their lives all recognize that Friendly City has benefited hugely from unlocking the skills, expertise and commitment which older people have to offer.

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