The NZ Disability Strategy presents a long-term plan for changing New Zealand from a disabling to an inclusive society. It has been developed in consultation with disabled people and the wider disability sector, and reflects many individuals' experiences of disability.

Disability is not something individuals have. What individuals have are impairments. They may be physical, sensory, neurological, psychiatric, intellectual or other impairments. Disability is the process which happens when one group of people create barriers by designing a world only for their way of living, taking no account of the impairments other people have.

Along with other New Zealanders, disabled people aspire to a good life. However, they also face huge barriers to achieving the life that so many take for granted. These barriers are created when we build a society that takes no account of the impairments other people have. Our society is built in a way that assumes we can all see signs, read directions, hear announcements, reach buttons, have the strength to open heavy doors and have stable moods and perceptions.

Underpinning the NZ Disability Strategy is a vision of a fully inclusive society. New Zealand will be inclusive when people with impairments can say they live in:

'A society that highly values our lives and continually enhances our full participation.' 

Achieving this vision will involve ensuring that disabled people have a meaningful partnership with Government, communities and support agencies, based on respect and equality. Disabled people will be integrated into community life on their own terms, their abilities will be valued, their diversity and interdependence will be recognised, and their human rights will be protected. Achieving this vision will also involve recognising the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

To advance New Zealand towards a fully inclusive society, the NZ Disability Strategy includes fifteen Objectives, underpinned by detailed Actions.

The Objectives are to:

  1. Encourage And Educate For A Non-Disabling Society.
  2. Ensure Rights For Disabled People.
  3. Provide The Best Education For Disabled People.
  4. Provide Opportunities In Employment And Economic Development For Disabled People.
  5. Foster Leadership By Disabled People.
  6. Foster An Aware And Responsive Public Service.
  7. Create Long-Term Support Systems Centred On The Individual.
  8. Support Quality Living In The Community For Disabled People.
  9. Support Lifestyle Choices, Recreation And Culture For Disabled People.
  10. Collect And Use Relevant Information About Disabled People And Disability Issues.
  11. Promote Participation Of Disabled Māori.
  12. Promote Participation Of Disabled Pacific Peoples.
  13. Enable Disabled Children And Youth To Lead Full And Active Lives.
  14. Promote Participation Of Disabled Women In Order To Improve Their Quality Of Life.
  15. Value Families, Whānau And People Providing Ongoing Support.

Key government departments will produce an implementation work plan for the 2001/02 year showing what they are doing towards implementation of the NZ Disability Strategy. This annual planning process will then be rolled out to other departments in 2002/03. The Minister for Disability Issues will report to Parliament annually on progress in implementing the NZ Disability Strategy and full reviews of progress will be conducted after five and ten years.

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