What’s the worst sin an organization dedicated to serving and advocating for older people could commit?

How about age discrimination?!

Age Concern NZ will choose a new National President in the coming week.

BayBuzz is writing about the contest because a local volunteer leader is running for the office.

This fellow has twenty-two years of voluntary service in the NGO sector, and nine years in Local Government, recently standing down as a Hastings Councillor.

With more specific reference to Age Concern, he has served as Chairman of the Board of Age Concern Hastings for four years, during which time he has led a re-write of the Constitution, spearheaded effectiveness-improving consolidations with Hastings Senior Citizens and Age Concern CHB, developed a Code of Conduct and Five Year Strategic Plan, instituted an annual strategic planning retreat, and overseen the redevelopment of Age Concern Hastings premises.

Age Concern Hastings has grown under his leadership and provides a robust suite of advocacy, promotion and service programs for senior citizens.

In addition to this local and regional leadership, our candidate has served two years as a Board Member of Age Concern New Zealand.

What’s wrong with this candidate?

Some within Age Concern New Zealand seem to believe he is too young (at 39 years of age) to serve as the national leader of the organization.

As one opponent of his candidacy writes: “The leadership of Age Concern NZ is of considerable importance as the leader is our public face … That public face in our view needs to be representative of our Councils, our members, our collective experiences of positive ageing.” In other words, it would be bad for Age Concern NZ’s image to be led by a younger person … apparently whatever their relevant skills, dedication and experience.

So this critic urges our candidate — “a younger man” — to reconsider his decision to stand … better candidate or not.

What a joke Age Concern NZ would become were the organization to reject a candidate for its National Presidency because he was too young. What would be the credibility of an aging organization itself practising ageism?!

Fortunately, our candidate from Hastings will not step aside. Because he is Dean Hyde and he is a fighter for his principles.

Over the next two years, Age Concern NZ will need to work harder than ever for its constituency, especially if a receding economy and a potential change in central government come to pass.

This is a time for Age Concern NZ to choose the best candidate, whether old or young.

Instead of Dean Hyde, maybe the electors for this office will choose a different candidate, whose style or program or energy or vision they believe are more suited to the challenges and opportunities the organization will face over the near term.

If so, those would be proper reasons for their choice.

The wrong reason would be to choose a candidate, or not, because of his or her age.

Very bad for your image Age Concern NZ!

Good luck Dean!

Tom

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