Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
I feel so privileged to be standing here in front of you today. The Dove Club is today celebrating a major milestone in its existence, and can I take this particular moment to thank Mr. G. Wakefield for having extended an invite to me.
Ladies and gentlemen the Dove Club embodies the spirit of our “Better Together” approach. This club is part and parcel of the community of Elsies River, and the city of Cape Town at large.
Through the Dove Club, the community of elderly residents in the Northern Suburbs have had a safe and inviting space they can turn to. Here they will always find a kind smile, good friends, a warm meal and physical and spiritual home to spend their golden years in.
To me the Dove Club isn’t just another place for the elderly, instead I see it as a home housing 50 years of good memories, a commitment of service to others, and love.
We live in different times. Today’s fast-paced existence has seen the erosion of certain values that we grew up with. We are losing values such as love for family, and showing respect for our elders.
We no longer see families and communities at large standing together, helping and serving each other. There are so many social ills threatening to tear us apart. At times it becomes easy to neglect each other as neighbours; but we can change this.
The Western Cape Government believes in a whole of society approach to dealing with social issues. This recognizes the fact that government alone can never solve all the problems in society.
Ladies and gentlemen, I mention this because if we are to change the harmful attitudes and practices in our communities towards our elder residents, we need to bring together all stakeholders.
The Western Cape has just over 520 000 people aged 60 years and older. That’s a lot of people. The elderly are not a nuisance, you are not basket-cases, nor should you be subjected to any forms of verbal, emotional or physical abuse.
Like any other resident you too have rights, and deserve protection and empowerment.
I have always felt that our major goal should be to care, support and protect older persons with a strong focus on the poor and vulnerable within our communities. Too often, older people are judged and ill-treated simply because they are poor.
This is why the Department of Social Development is committed to design and put in place integrated services for the care, support and protection of older persons, and our support for the Dove Club over the years has been key to realizing this objective.
For as long as the Dove Club remains the beacon of hope and service for the elderly, our support to the Dove Club will remain unwavering and unflinching.
We will continue to encourage other facilities in the province to model themselves on the successes of the Dove Club.
The Dove Club, and other facilities like it, promote increased participation and independence of older persons, and promote the concept of keeping older persons within the communities for as long as possible.
My department will continue to create an enabling environment in order to maintain the capacity, self-participation, well-being and protection of older persons.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are a caring government. We will continue working with service providers, other spheres of government, NGOs and the private sector. After-all, we will only be able to successfully support and empower our older persons if we work “Better Together”.