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"Active ageing means more than just working longer”, remarked Rudolf Hundstorfer, Federal Minister for Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, at the closing ceremony of the European Year 2012 in Austria. Held on 7 November at the Odeon Theatre in Vienna, the event was attended by 200 guests, who expressed their hope that the promotion of projects and policies related to active ageing will continue far beyond this year.
Dirk Fassbender, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Austria, opened the event highlighting some of the actions organised within the European Year programme in Austria, such as the generations@school initiative and the Seniorforce Day in Vienna, which counted with the participation of nearly 2,000 citizens. Furthermore he named Austria's great number of submissions to the European Year 2012 Awards, whose winners will be announced in Brussels on November 13th. Mr. Fassbender stressed the importance of the exchange of experiences between the different Member States is key to tackle the ageing population. “The energy of this year should be preserved”, he said.
Edeltraud Glettler, Department Director of the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, stated that one of the major successes of the EY2012 is the fact that a new image of the old people has been created among the general public and the media in Austria. Population is more aware about ageing, she pointed out. She also mentioned the "Vienna Declaration towards Ageing" made during the UNECE Ministerial Conference and the Federal Senior Plan of Austria as two other important milestones of the EY2012.
The closing speech of the ceremony was delivered by Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer, who reminded the importance of intergenerational solidarity and the social inclusion of all age groups, men and women, sick and healthy, highlighting the special role of lifelong learning in ageing policies and the need to ensure citizens a healthy and dignified active ageing. The Minister also pointed out the key role of municipalities in engaging senior citizens in social activities. “Cooperation at the local level contributes enormously to social cohesion”, he said.
Mr. Hundstorfer praised the winners of the “Senior friendly communities Austria 2012" awards, which were given during the ceremony. These awards, organised by Volkshilfe and the Pensioners Association of Austria, are given to communities that have distinguished themselves promoting initiatives and projects for the elderly.
This year’s winners are the towns of Leitersdorf im Raabtal, Kronstorf in Oberösterreich, Bad Goisern and Bregenz. The prize for especially innovative approaches went to the "Initiative Dorfservice in Kärnten", a network of 12 municipalities.
Representatives of senior associations, non-profits, local and regional authorities attended the event. Among them Karl Blecha, President of the Pensioners Association Austria, Erich Fenninger, CEO Volkshilfe, and Christiana Weidel, President of The World of NGOs.
Picture gallery of the event.
Click here to browse through a selection of EY2012-related initiatives in Austria.
For more information about the European Year 2012 in Austria you may visit this website.