Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services
I have great pleasure in making this statement on the appointment of our second Commissioner for Older People in Wales. The successful candidate is Sarah Rochira. She is currently the director of the Royal National Institute for the Blind Cymru, a role that she has held since 2008.
In appointing the Commissioner, the Welsh Government brought together a panel of older people, nominated by members of the National Partnership Forum for Older People in Wales and representing a variety of different ages and backgrounds. The panel held its own interviewing and selection exercise and tested the abilities of the shortlisted candidates to relate to the realities of life for all kinds of older people in Wales. Two of its members then joined the formal selection panel and contributed fully to its deliberations. I am very grateful to all members for giving so freely of their time and experience in contributing to the appointment process. I also thank Assembly Members from across our different political parties, together with the two members of the older people’s panel, who sat on the formal interview panel which I chaired.
I commend Ruth Marks MBE, the first Commissioner for establishing a robust Commission and I wish her well in her future career.
As the first Older People’s Commissioner in the world, Ruth has led the way in championing older people and has raised the profile of the work we are doing on older people’s issues in the international community. Ruth has set up the first Commission for Older People in the world and has laid the groundwork for the future. She will leave a legacy on which our new Commissioner will, I am sure, build.
I congratulate Sarah on her appointment and warmly welcome her to this important role. We must value older people more, and robustly tackle discrimination on the grounds of age. We must challenge unfair and outdated stereotypes, attitudes and practices that adversely affect older people. I am sure that our new commissioner will define her own role in her own way and I look forward to hearing more about the progress she makes in this unique and challenging role.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.