Its key objectives are: supporting families and whānau, promoting the participation of Māori and Pacific disabled people and improving support services. It also covers access, attitudes, education and employment as well as promoting the participation of disabled women and a full and active life for disabled children.
The New Zealand Disability Strategy is vital to the one in five New Zealanders who identify that they have a long-term impairment. By implementing its objectives, New Zealand will become a more inclusive society, eliminating the barriers to disabled people participating in, and contributing to, society.
I am pleased to report on some of significant actions government has undertaken over the last year that will make a real difference in disabled people’s lives. These are key actions that disabled people have been calling for over a long period of time. They are in place to realise the vision of the New Zealand Disability Strategy and assist us to meet our obligations set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In my last report I told you that we would establish a whole-of-government action plan. We have done this. I am really pleased with the work Chief Executives and Ministers have done to develop the Disability Action Plan, which sets out three priorities for government agencies: ‘supports for living’, ‘mobility and access’, and ‘jobs’. The plan also includes initiatives that aim to meet the needs of specific groups.
In 2011 we have decided to focus new cross-government work under the Disability Action Plan on Canterbury. While we have seen tragedy come from the effects of the earthquakes in Canterbury, we have an opportunity to make the new built environment more accessible and to redesign disability supports so they are more flexible. To do this, we are making sure that disabled people are part of developing recovery plans for Canterbury. Learning from this work will be useful throughout New Zealand.
This report highlights the new work government has been doing alongside the disability sector to rethink how we can be more responsive to disabled people and their families.
The Ministry of Health’s new model of disability supports to give more people choice and control is progressing well. A trial of the model is up and running in Western Bay of Plenty/Tauranga.
The Disability Employment Summit is an excellent example of government working in partnership with disabled people and employers to improve employment opportunities.
Budget 2011 funded ‘Be. Accessible’ and I am very proud of this brand new initiative. This is a disability led initiative that aims to inspire New Zealanders to step up to the economic and social opportunities of having a fully inclusive society.
We have also reviewed the New Zealand Sign Language Act. The report suggests that the implementation of the Act needs to be improved. We are developing a work plan to ensure this Act has maximum effect for the Deaf community.
In my 2010 report I told you that the framework we had put in place to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities would make a difference. In July 2011 this group, consisting of the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues, the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsmen, and the Convention Coalition of disabled people’s organisations, met for the first time to discuss what they had each done over the year and what more was needed.
The leadership around the table at that meeting was impressive. The group will be further strengthened by the appointment made in September 2011 of the first Disability Rights Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission. This appointment was driven strongly by me to increase the leadership role and to stimulate improvements in monitoring disabled people’s rights.
In 2012, we will continue to build and enhance our leadership and improve the lives of disabled New Zealanders.
Hon Tariana Turia
Minister for Disability Issues
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