The Senior-friendly Communities Austria 2012 prizes were given on 7 November in Vienna during the National Closing Ceremony of the European Year 2012. These awards, organised for the firth time by Volkshilfe and the Pensioners Association of Austria, are given to communities that have distinguished themselves promoting initiatives and projects for the elderly.
During the ceremony, the head of Volkshilfe Austria, Erich Fenninger, recognized "the great efforts of many communities in order to provide old citizens a liveable environment”. The number and quality of the entries received in this edition are great best practice examples. “Unfortunately, we could only distinguish a few”, he said.
Karl Blecha, President of the Pensioners Association of Austria, highlighted that "those communities with senior-friendliness on top of their agenda are often also those who offer many opportunities for young people and families. Generations living together are particularly important”.
The awards were handed by Rudolf Hundstorfer, Federal Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, who stressed the importance of local communities as a centre of life.
The winners in each of the five categories are:
Category 1 - Up to 2,500 inhabitants: Leitersdorf im Raabtal, Styria
The small community has a thriving associations sector and supports a variety of measures and activities for seniors. Projects such as "Youth helps seniors", "Old learn with children" and the shopping and delivery services in the village convinced the jury.
Category 2 - 2,501-5,000 inhabitants: Kronstorf, Upper Austria
The municipality of Kronstorf is truly commited to cross-generational activities. Grandmothers and active pensioners supervise elementary school and kindergarten children. Activities such as reading hours in assisted living centres or a redesigned trail for seniors contribute to make the community a senior-friendly environment.
Category 3 - 5,001 to 10,000 inhabitants: Bad Goisern, Upper Austria
The community on Lake Hallstatt offers a wide programme of activities and has an intense social network for old people. Senior gymnastics, hiking groups, retirees’ afternoons, nursing meetings and memory training are some of the ongoing activities. The dialogue between generations is often encouraged, for example through the collaboration of nursing homes and kindergartens.
Category 4 - 5,001 to 10,000 inhabitants: Bregenz, Vorarlberg
The capital of Vorarlberg has a dense network of facilities and numerous activities for seniors. Social centres, psychosocial counselling, assisted living and short term care institutions make it possible to grow old with dignity in the city. An innovative intergenerational housing project named "Habitats for all ages” has been going on for 12 years now.
Category 5 - Special Jury Award for the most innovative approaches: Dorfservice. A network of 12 municipalities in Carinthia.
The network has been working since 2007 in order to develop an age-appropriate infrastructure in rural areas of Carinthia. A team of 120 full-time and voluntary staff try to inform and connect in every community seniors with care services providers.
The competition is supported by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labour and Consumer Protection, the Austrian Association of Municipalities and the association of Austrian Cities and Towns.