Minister and Director's forewords

Forewords from Minister for Disability Issues Hon Tariana Turia, and Director for Disability Issues Jan Scown.

Minister’s foreword

Achieving the vision of a fully inclusive New Zealand requires concerted and disciplined effort. While there has been wide ranging improvement in the way government agencies deliver services for disabled people and their whānau, in the eleven years since the launch of the New Zealand Disability Strategy, it’s only in the last 18 months that we have achieved a whole of government action plan for its implementation.

This Disability Action Plan has the benefit of focusing Ministers and Chief Executives on those things that need them to act together, across government agencies, as well as in the areas they have specific responsibility for. We continue to focus on rebuilding an accessible Canterbury, on jobs and other economic opportunities, and on transforming supports for living.

In 2011, I commissioned a group of people from the disability sector to tell me how supports could facilitate a good life for people. They came up with the Enabling Good Lives report. Its vision and principles have been adopted by our Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues to shape all future development of disability supports. In 2012, the Ministries of Health and Social Development funded independent facilitators to work with people in Christchurch and Waikato, and a small group of families in Wellington, to think about how they would put the Enabling Good Lives principles into practice.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities independent monitors have continued to work actively with our Ministers’ Committee to add their feedback and recommendations to our thinking as we develop the Action Plan. This has proved to be a great working partnership. As anticipated, the Convention Coalition (of disabled people’s organisations), the Human Rights Commission and the Office for the Ombudsman, as designated monitors, have each added value and together challenged us to do better.

Together we will bring about real improvements in the lives of disabled New Zealanders.

Hon Tariana Turia

Minister for Disability Issues

Director’s foreword

Jan Scown

It is ten years since the Office for Disability Issues was set up to support the Minister for Disability Issues and to promote the New Zealand Disability Strategy. Key highlights include our lead role in negotiations on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the passing of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006. We also led a review of how long-term disability supports could enhance people’s everyday lives, which involved engagement with people up and down the country. More recently, we facilitated working with the sector group that produced the 2011 Enabling Good Lives report.

Our experience with the Disability Strategy strongly influenced the Convention. We worked with disabled people and the disability sector to ensure the Convention benefited from the direct experience of disabled people. We now support the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues and its plan of action that implements the Disability Strategy and the Convention.

During 2011/12, we developed a reporting framework for the Disability Strategy that allows us to collate the legislation, policies and government services that New Zealand has, or is putting in place, to ensure full participation of disabled New Zealanders in all areas of life.

The partnership approach with disabled people is evident in a number of initiatives in this report. A good example is the employment-related initiatives being jointly actioned by employers, the disability sector and government agencies. Another example is the combined efforts of government agencies and Lifetime Design Ltd to improve the accessibility and safety of houses. A recent partnership highlight was the symposium held in Christchurch to learn from the earthquakes and make emergency preparedness more inclusive of disabled people. This was hosted by Ngai Tahu and the local DPA, and sponsored and organised by the Office, the Ministries of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, Health and Social Development, ACC, and CBM and Rehabilitation International.

This working together makes it more likely we work on the right things and come up with the right solutions – those that make the difference for disabled people and their families. I look forward to seeing this approach grow further in the actions planned for the year ahead.

Jan Scown

Director, Office for Disability Issues

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