Monitoring the Disability Action Plan/Next Steps
The following groups assist the Ministerial Committee to monitor work occurring under the Disability Action Plan:
- the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues
- the Office for Disability Issues
- Statistics New Zealand.
The Ministerial Committee of Disability Issues
The Government established a Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues in 2010 to provide visible leadership and accountability for implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and to set a coherent direction for disability issues across government.
I chair the Ministerial Committee and other key Ministers are members. The Government wants departments to be smarter and work collectively on common areas rather than separately. By having Ministers from different portfolios working closely together, government agencies can better focus their activity and policy development on what makes a real difference in disabled people's lives.
Chief Executives' Group on Disability Issues
This group implements directions of the Ministerial Committee. The key task given to the Chief Executives' Group in 2011 is to monitor the work that is happening in the Disability Action Plan and report on progress.
The Office for Disability Issues
Since its establishment in 2002, the Office for Disability Issues (located within the Ministry of Social Development) has supported the Minister for Disability Issues in promoting implementation of the New Zealand Disability Strategy.
More recently, the Office for Disability Issues has become the administrative focal point within government for promoting implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Office’s other key responsibilities include:
- supporting the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues, and its Chief Executives’ Group
- providing advice to government on matters impacting on disabled people
- advising the Department of Building and Housing on determinations in relation to accessibility for disabled people under the Building Act 2004
- nominating suitably qualified disabled people for appointment to government boards and positions
- administering the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006
- preparing the Minister for Disability Issues’ annual report to Parliament
- reporting on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- engaging with disability sector organisations, and supporting the involvement of disabled people with government agencies.
Post census disability survey
Statistics New Zealand is leading the development of a coordinated whole-of-government programme of official social statistics. This programme envisages a five-yearly disability survey following each census of population and dwellings.
The next disability survey is planned for 2013 . It will address the following questions:
- what is the prevalence of disability in New Zealand, and how does it vary across key population groups?
- to what extent do the social and economic outcomes of disabled people differ from those of non-disabled people? How do outcomes vary between different groups within the disabled population?
- to what extent are the needs of disabled people currently met? What level and type of support do they need to perform daily activities?
- what factors facilitate or hinder the participation of disabled people in important life areas such as learning opportunities, paid work, and civic society?
- who are the main carers of disabled people and what types of support do they provide?
 The disability survey was initially planned for 2011. It is now rescheduled for 2013, due to the postponement of the census.
First report on implementing the Convention
New Zealand’s first report on implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was submitted to the United Nations on 25 March 2011.
The report acknowledges that disabled New Zealanders are still disadvantaged. Comprehensive disability surveys were conducted in New Zealand in 1996, 2001 and 2006. These surveys have consistently found that disabled people were, when compared with non-disabled people:
- more likely to live alone
- more likely to have a low annual household income
- more likely to live in the more deprived areas of New Zealand.
Disabled adults were:
- more likely to have no educational qualifications
- less likely to be employed
- more likely to have a lower annual personal income
- less likely to be partnered.
While there have been, and continue to be, improvements, many disabled people experience poorer outcomes in health, education, employment and elsewhere. The degree of relative disadvantage is still greater for women and for Māori and Pacific people.
The report also acknowledges that disabled New Zealanders still experience social discrimination and practical barriers. While the Government has taken many steps to strengthen the standing of disabled people, constraints remain in the attitudes of some people, who see disabled people as less than equal. There are also physical and environmental barriers, for example, New Zealand’s small population and geographic diversity means that some services are concentrated in main centres and are not readily accessible in more remote areas.
The report notes that the New Zealand Government is responding to these issues by developing a Disability Action Plan, with concrete actions around specified priorities.
New Zealand will be examined by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on its first report on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities within the next three years – probably in 2013.
The Convention requires the Government to establish a framework to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the Convention. The established framework is an independent mechanism and is made up of three parts:
- the Human Rights Commission, which has an existing mandate for human rights, and has a broad role across all three functions of promotion, protection and monitoring
- the Office of the Ombudsmen has a role in the areas of protection and monitoring within its existing mandate, which is confined to agencies in the state sector
- the Convention Coalition, a governance-level steering group formed by six major disabled people’s organisations to run a rights monitoring programme.
In the future, this annual report on progress will monitor and highlight implementation of the Disability Action Plan. Government will need to have an ongoing involvement with the disability sector as the Disability Action Plan is implemented.
Action next year will focus on current initiatives as well as continuing to build and enhance our leadership structures, improve advocacy and complaints processes, and improve the way people access information and supports.
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