One on One with the Honourable Tracey Martin25 June 2019
The Honourable Tracey Martin has been the Minister of Seniors since October 2017. A great believer in giving back to the community, she talks to us about her role and her vision.
1. What are the parts of your role you enjoy the most?
The best thing is dealing with people, especially seniors themselves. Because I don’t have a large budget for seniors, my role is more about advocating and
influencing to ensure policies and approaches achieve positive outcomes for older New Zealanders. To this end, I have to get out and about and engage with the stakeholder and community groups in the sector as well as a lot of individuals. By and large though – and the engagement on the ageing strategy last year was a good example – it’s fun. The other thing, of course, is the satisfaction of doing things and making decisions that you know are going to help people.
2. What are the Government's imminent priorities for our senior community in New Zealand?
The new draft positive ageing strategy, Better Later Life, best sets this out as it was written after a lot of consultation with seniors about what they wanted. At a top level, the key priorities aren’t a surprise. People want decent income; health and social services; housing; and to be safe and connected to their communities. Our policies will be focusing on these areas. Within these areas, we have to particularly worry about the most vulnerable people, like those subject to elder abuse, those with insecure rental tenure, and those who are or might be socially isolated. As well, a key area of interest for me is how we help let older people transition in and out of paid work if they want it. It’s important for their income and our economy and workforce as the population ages.
3. What are some of the best resources our senior community currently has access to?
The SuperGold Card, of course – it provides seniors with access to discounts from over 14,000 businesses located across New Zealand, as well as the public
transport discounts for those who have access to it.
4. What future priorities does the Government have for the senior community and how do these take into consideration our ageing population?
As I touched on above, I recently launched the new draft strategy, Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumátua 2019 to 2034. It is currently out for consultation. This strategy, once finalised, will ensure that policies and actions across Government are aimed at supporting seniors and ensuring they can recognise their potential.
5. How is the Government working to mitigate ageism in our wider society?
Ageism was an issue raised a lot with me. All New Zealanders need to address not only ageism but discrimination, negative stereotypes, and attitudes (for example towards older workers). We all need to accept people for who they are, and that’s something that seniors said they wanted – to be seen as any other Kiwi, rather than just part of a generation or cohort. I expect there to be more substantial initiatives in the detailed Action Plan which will be developed once the strategy has been finalised. But we can all be contributing to changing attitudes now.