Minister's foreword (2014 Annual Report)

I have been the Minister of Disability Issues since October 2014 and I am really excited about having this portfolio. This work is new to me but I have found there are many passionate people who have helped me get a good understanding of the issues and opportunities. I want also to acknowledge my predecessor, the former Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Tariana Turia, whose hard work over many years resulted in significant changes in the lives of disabled people.

I am pleased to report on some significant Government achievements over the past year. These achievements are delivering on the vision of the New Zealand Disability Strategy; to be a country that is fully inclusive, where disabled New Zealanders live fulfilling lives and experience equal rights of citizenship.

An important achievement, and one that represents a fundamental change to the way we operate, is the new way of working in partnership with Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) as the representatives of disabled people. This was demonstrated through the new Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 which was co-designed by government agencies and DPOs. This is a practical example of the Government implementing Article 4(3) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which states that disabled people should be involved in decisions that impact on them in the development of disability policy and the delivery of services.

I am committed to the Enabling Good Lives approach to the provision of support services for disabled New Zealanders. Empowering disabled people to make their own decisions about the supports they need to live everyday lives with dignity in their communities, is at the heart of the Enabling Good Lives approach. 2014 has seen an expansion of the demonstration, with a new budget commitment for the Waikato and the commencement of phase two in Christchurch.

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is a core part of deaf and non-verbal people’s identity and culture. It goes without saying that the survival of NZSL, like any other language, is dependent upon a community using the language in daily life. This year the Government agreed to establish a NZSL Advisory Board and Fund to promote and maintain the language.

Finally, 2014 was a significant year for implementation of the CRPD with the first examination by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee commended some of the achievements, including those I have mentioned here. They have also made recommendations on areas of improvement, which the Government is currently considering. This process helps to keep us accountable and make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure disabled New Zealanders have the same rights and can live a good life, just like others.

I know that this journey has been a long one so far and there is more that needs to be done. I am looking forward to building on the work to date to achieve positive change in 2015 and beyond.

Hon Nicky Wagner Minister for Disability Issues (Oct 2014 - Oct 2017)

Hon Nicky Wager, Minister for Disability Issues


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