Member of Parliament for Mount Roskill, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Michael Wood, hosted a Seniors’ Forum on Thursday, July 19, to discuss government’s winter energy payment, insulation grants, and other policies and issues of interest to seniors.

The forum was held at the Dominion Road School in Mt Roskill.

A diverse group of seniors from the area attended the forum, which included members from the Indian and Chinese community.

Mr Wood opened the forum speaking about the Positive Ageing strategy and how New Zealand’s senior population is projected to grow to around one million seniors in 2028 and about one-fourth of the total population by 2038. 

Mr Wood also emphasised the need for a linked up approach to support people to age well, by taking into consideration the implications for housing, transport, employment and health.

He mentioned that the Positive Ageing consultation is continuing until August 24 and how people could provide their input on www.Super seniors.msd.govt.nz/ageing population

The other issue of significance discussed at the forum was the newly introduced winter energy payment for seniors by the government.

This payment goes to everyone on National Superannuation or benefit. A payment of $20 a week for singles and $32 a week for couples will be paid over July/August /September in 2018 and from May to September from 2019.  This is an automatic payment, and there is no need to apply.

Also, if people don’t want it, they can opt out.

The other topic that attracted much attention was about Warming up Kiwi homes. According to some rough estimates around 20 per cent of people report cold-housing.

The government’s new Warmer Kiwi Homes insulation grants will fund up to two-thirds of the cost of insulation for homeowners.  This grant is targeted to low decile areas, people with health issues and for those with community services cards.

From July 1, 2019, the new Healthy Homes standards for rental properties will kick in, and homes will have to meet the new higher standards before being tenanted.

Mr Wood also discussed elder abuse in the community, which sadly is a real problem in our community with up to one in ten seniors may be affected. Abuse is more likely to be from a family member and could be physical, financial or emotional. 

If you think anyone is being abused, please reach out and support them. You can talk to the Police, Age Concern, and advice is also available from the Office for Seniors Helpline on 0800 32 668 65

Mr Wood also provided some tips for a  warmer home this winter such as getting hot water cylinder wrapped, trimming back trees that block the sun, using good quality thermal curtains, opening windows for 20 minutes each day and also borrowing a free insulation kit from any library to test one’s home for insulation. The attendees shared their own tips with the group.

The group also enjoyed some beautiful music by violinist Joy and morning tea.