Progress In Implementing The NZ Disability Strategy 2005-2006
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Underpinning the New Zealand Disability Strategy is a call for change at the personal and societal level. This involves changing how we think about and behave towards disabled people, and how we work towards creating an inclusive, enabling society. This type of multilevel change takes time.
However, sound progress has been made right across government. Initiatives presented in this progress report range from high profile gains such as the passing of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006, or the successful advance of the United Nations convention on the rights of disabled people. We also celebrate the ending of institutions, with the closure of the Kimberley Centre. Disabled people now live in homes in communities, like everyone else.
Other gains not so immediately recognisable, but equally important, are the incremental steps that have been made by government to improve the way services are provided to disabled people. There has been a developing recognition that disabled people need to be involved in the policy making and service development process, if successful outcomes are to be achieved.
It is five years since the Government and New Zealand’s disabled people together celebrated the release of the New Zealand Disability Strategy in 2001. In that time, we have witnessed a number of positive steps being taken towards its implementation. We have also become more acutely aware of the areas where we need to work harder, and smarter, to bring about changes to reduce people experiencing barriers to participation.
I look forward with interest to the five-year report on progress in implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy. It is timely to refresh our efforts, as we lead up to the more comprehensive 10-year evaluation of progress planned for 2011/2012.
I commend the increase in emphasis on measurable targets and the collection of disability information in implementation plans for the 2006/2007 year. The responsiveness of government agencies in making this happen is welcomed.
One example of using more measurable targets is the repeat survey of government websites’ accessibility in late 2006, undertaken by the Office for Disability Issues in partnership with the State Services Commission. A comparison of survey results from 2005 and 2006 will enable us to see how government is doing to make its online information accessible to disabled people.
But this is only the start. I want to see more evidence of government commitment to action resulting in real differences in disabled people’s lives. This will only be seen when there is more ongoing collection of data and measurable milestone targets. This is our goal for the coming year.
I encourage the disability community to keep up scrutiny of what central government is doing, and to promote action on local and regional levels in both government and the private sector.
It is by working together that progress with the New Zealand Disability Strategy will be achieved.
Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Disability Issues