Speech - Dr Stephen Gatt
Dr Stephen Gatt is a highly qualified Maltese in the medical field and occupies a key place in several health departments in Australia. He produced an excellent report on the general demographic situation in New South Wales, Australia, with particular emphasis on the Maltese population of the area. This was based on the studies carried out during the International Year of Older Persons held in 1999. The detailed technical statistics he provided are of great interest, and these can be simplified as follows:
Taking into consideration the above factors, Dr Gatt urged that the Convention should affirm that older Maltese Citizens are entitled to ethnically-appropriate services for the elderly, with adequate advice delivered in the language they understand, and most of all, the offer of services specifically suitable to meet the needs of the elderly Maltese people. The Maltese Government must be actively involved in providing them with ongoing support to meet all the aspects of their social and cultural life. He suggested that:
- The bilateral agreements between Malta and other countries should be expanded;
- Facilitate the return of Maltese elderly citizens to Malta;
- Create services in Malta to meet the needs of the returned emigrants; and
- Send qualified social workers and welfare officers to provide rehabilitation services to elderly Maltese citizens abroad.
For this purpose the Church too must endeavour to use its clerical resources to stay close to the old folk. The best respect demonstrated towards the elderly can come from volunteers who will have greater concern for the plight of the ageing Maltese community. After all, what everyone is taught to show from a young age is reverence to those who loved and cared for them as children under the given order to "honour thy mother and father" in their old age.
Source: 'Malta' - Maltese Culture Movement, Issues 4,5,6, 2000.