Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust based in Auckland has started a research project that will help understand the issues and needs of the senior members of the South Asian community to serve them better.

Shanti Niwas is collaborating with different NGOs working in this space under different names and banners which are serving the seniors of the South Asian community holding workshops and consultation programmes. The goal is to identify the keys issues faced by the seniors migrated to New Zealand from different South Asian countries.

The first of the many workshops planned in the next six months was held on Monday, November 18 at Shanti Niwas' centre in Onehunga that brought together as many as 17 NGOs under one roof to talk and discuss on the subject.

"This workshop brought together as many as around 17 NGOs working on different ethnicities within South Asia to discuss the experiences faced by elderly migrants in Auckland," Nilima Venkat, General Manager of Shanti Niwas told The Indian Weekender

The event was also attended by National MP from North Shore Maggie Barry who delivered a keynote address at the event.

Ms Barry has been an advocate for elderly issues at the ministerial level and guided the group on the emerging issues and the opportunities for the growing elderly population.

The consultation was divided into different sessions with a participatory approach to get valuable inputs from different NGOs and service providers. A total of 36 people attended the workshop, including university academics and mainstream organisations. 

The purpose of this in-house research study is to understand the issues faced by South Asian elderly when they migrate to New Zealand. This study would gauge the problems of the elderly in accessing social services schemes and their level of awareness, their overall settlement issues, and their current perception on alternate home options.

"This workshop was done in light of this study to get a broader perspective from the heads of different NGOs working specifically on South Asian Communities.

"We plan to take their collective voices next year, taking different organisations aboard to work together and collaboratively for advocating towards elderly issues," Ms Venkat added.

The inputs received under different sessions in the workshops of the research study is expected to be out early next year, which would probably be amongst the first knowledge resource on South Asian Elderly migrant issues.

The research findings would be used to advocate with the government and service providers on elderly issues and also inform the NGOs on the needs of the elderly to support them in suiting their programming.

Some of the participating organisations in this research study are Age Concern Auckland, Age Concern Wellington, TANI, University of Auckland, NZ Nepal Society, Pakistan Association, Sikh Women's Association, Ahmadia Muslim Jama'at, NZISCA, Hindu Elders Society, Women Care Trust, Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust, Gujarati Association, NZ Tamil Association, and NZ Police, etc.

The agenda for the first workshop on Monday was understanding statistics and population trends of South Asian Elderly of today and tomorrow, issues concerning South Asian elderly, understanding Age-Friendly Auckland City concept, role and importance of NGOs being the extending arm of the government and alternative homes for elderly.  

The key takeaways from the first consultation were:

-the group identified that there is a need to include voices of more NGOs of South Asian communities towards Auckland Age-Friendly City Project,

-the Population data should be disaggregated to identify the specific needs of the South Asian population since they will comprise a decent proportion to Auckland population in the coming years.

A brief report of Monday's workshop will be sent to all NGOs that participated and for those that couldn't make it. The final study, which would include takeaways from this consultation, will also be discussed with different departments and service providers, directly and indirectly, working with the elderly.

"We are thankful to each of the organisations who came together to share their experiences dealing with the elderly and explaining their issues.

"We need to keep the momentum and hold continuous conversations for taking up the voices of the elderly," Ms Venkat concluded.