As the Director Office of Seniors, Diane is responsible for a small team within the Ministry of Social Development. Her and her team support the Minister for Seniors whose role it is to advocate for the issues and interests of older people.
Diane spent thirty years in local government, the last five years as CEO of the Whakatāne District Council. During her career at the Council she also held a number of other positions including ten years as Civil Defence Controller. In 2012 Diane received the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Silver Award for her leadership roles in both the Bay of Plenty floods of 2004 and the Matata debris flow of 2005.
In 2011 she took up the position of Deputy Chief Executive of Recovery Strategy, Planning and Policy Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), where she was responsible for the development of the Recovery Strategy and Recovery Plans and providing advice, policy and governance structures needed to contribute to the recovery process.
Diane worked for three years at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. While there she was responsible for leading the contribution of Ngāi Tahu to the earthquake recovery and development of the shared equity home ownership scheme for whānau and responsibility for the establishment of a Commissioning Agency charged with building whānau capability in the South Island.
How Age-friendly Communities and Accessible Communities can work together an Example of Collaboration from New Zealand
The overarching vision for older people in New Zealand is a society where people can age positively; a society where older people are highly valued and are recognised as an integral part of families and communities. Leading the promotion the World Health Organisation’s Age-friendly Communities programme is a key initiative for achieving positive ageing in New Zealand.
In our small a country of 4.7 million people, communities and local authorities are being approached to implement a wide range of programmes that are designed to improve the liveability of communities. Our research has identified over 20 such programmes that are being used. It is not uncommon to hear the question asked “why older people? Why not people with disabilities or children? Or some other group”
The Office for Seniors in New Zealand has been working on addressing this question by understanding how Age-friendly Communities aligns with other similar improvement programmes, that are targeting local councils and communities.
Integral to achieving this is a collaborative project with the Office for Disability Issues looking to support our communities to become both Age-friendly and Accessible. With 59% of people over 65 years of age having at least one disability it makes sense for the two approaches to collaborate.
Over the past year we have been working together to develop an approach that supports communities to improve Accessibility and Age-friendliness. Our aim has been to make a compelling case for adopting an approach where people irrespective of age or ability is actively participating in the shaping their community in partnership with local government, service providers and non-government organisations.
This paper will provide an outline of the approach we have undertaken, some of the opportunities, challenges and key learning’s we have identified along the way and the results of that we have achieved. This is relevant for anyone working with older people as in New Zealand like the rest of the world a significant portion of older people are living with some form of disability.