Minister's Foreword (Annual Report 2016)
It has been another busy year. I have spent quite a lot of time getting out and about and meeting with disabled people, their families and whānau and organisations working in the disability sector.
I am pleased to report on some significant Government achievements over the past year.
An exciting development this year was the launch of the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026 in November. This new Strategy will provide the mandate for and guide the work of government agencies on disability issues for the next 10 years.
The vision underpinning the Strategy is a non-disabling society, a place where disabled people have an equal opportunity to achieve their goals and live the lives they choose. Eight key interconnected outcome areas for targeted action are set out in the Strategy. An Outcomes Framework, to be developed next year, will monitor how the implementation of the Strategy is progressing.
Another significant achievement was New Zealand’s accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in October. The Optional Protocol provides a legal channel for individuals or groups of individuals to complain to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe that their rights have been breached. Accession to the Optional Protocol builds on our international reputation, and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to protecting the rights of disabled New Zealanders.
I am committed to the Enabling Good Lives approach to the provision of support services for disabled New Zealanders. The Enabling Good Lives approach, focused on empowering disabled people to make their own choices about the supports they need in their daily lives, is contributing to the creation of a non-disabling society in New Zealand.
The Christchurch demonstration of the Enabling Good Lives approach finished in June this year, whilst the demonstration in the Waikato will continue into 2017. The evidence from the Christchurch and the Waikato demonstrations will inform advice to the Government on the options to transform the disability support system.
Employment continues to be one of my top priorities. Disabled people around New Zealand continue to tell me that they can and want to work. The implementation of the Health and Disability Long Term Work Programme to improve employment outcomes for disabled people has been completed.
New initiatives in the employment area continue. The Government is now taking a lead in employing disabled people and providing paid internships. The Lead Toolkit for Employing Disabled People in the State Sector was launched in March this year. The Government is also encouraging employers in the private sector to employ disabled New Zealanders.
A Disability Confident campaign, focused on building employer awareness of the benefits of taking on disabled employees, has been launched. More information can be found at www.msd.govt.nz/DisabilityConfidentnz .
Hon Nicky Wagner, Minister for Disability Issues (Oct 2014 - Oct 2017)
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