Caption: (seated on right) Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Rosy Akbar while attending to the request of a senior citizen during the public consultations organised in Nadi .Photo:SUPPLIED.
The Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation is calling on families to play a more proactive role in ensuring the wellbeing of senior citizens in Fiji.
This message was reiterated by the Hon. Minister Mrs Rosy Akbar while speaking at public consultations held in Nadi and Sigatoka this week.
During these consultations, the Ministry received reports of senior citizens who were ill-treated by their family members.
“The Ministry is urging families to demonstrate more care and compassion towards the welfare of senior citizens. Families need to make every effort to look after their seniors, they should be respected and recognised for their years of contribution”, the Minister said.
“Through my visit to some of Fiji’s residential care homes, I have been told that the number of senior citizens in these homes is increasing. In fact there is a long list of applications received by the care homes from families who no longer want to take care of their elderly parents. It’s sad to see that seniors in some of the care homes, are never visited by their families – they often long to see their children.”
The Ministry, she said, would organise awareness programs to educate the communities on such important social issues.
“The National Council for Older Persons (NCOP) will work together with Non-Government Organisations and Faith Based Organisations to raise awareness on the issue. There is a need to change the mindset of children, to instill the values of respect and care for our seniors, who should be looked after and cherished by their families”, the Minister said.
Through its Social Pension Scheme, the Ministry is assisting more than 11,000 senior citizens.
“This Scheme is for seniors who are 70 years and above, and don’t have any form of income or access to superannuation funds so they qualify for a monthly pension from Government.
Government has allocated $8 million for this Scheme in the 2015 national budget with a total of 33,000 senior citizens expected to benefit. It’s a three-fold increase in the number of senior citizens that are currently assisted through the Scheme.
“From July this year, the eligibility age for assistance will also be reduced to 68 years and this Scheme is provided to senior citizens who are living with their children who look after them. However, for those senior citizens who don’t have anyone staying with them, they are assisted through Poverty Benefit Scheme, which has monthly cash component and $50 Food Voucher.
“The Bus Fare Concession for seniors who are 60 years and above in age, will also continue, with a budgetary allocation of $150,000. Currently 42,475 individuals continue to be assisted by this initiative,” Minister Akbar said.