ODI Newsletter - November 2018

Bringing you news from the Office for Disability Issues and around the disability sector

In this issue:

Message from Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues

Disability Action Plan

A new Strategy to promote NZSL

Message from Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues 


Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues
Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues.

The momentum of recent months continues, with lots of great things taking place. In September, Minister of Housing, Phil Twyford, and I spoke at the Te Ao Tangata Universal Design Conference. This was a great opportunity for engagement and discussion about accessibility and the potential of universal design.

I was also fortunate enough for the second time to meet New York Commissioner Victor Calese at this conference, after having met him in New York in June. He is doing some exciting work to make New York the most accessible city in the world and I look forward to seeing more of the work of Victor and his team and learning from their experience. 

Accessibility has been identified by disabled people in New Zealand as a primary issue that we need to address. Ensuring all people have access to information, services and physical spaces is essential. Improved accessibility has an important knock on effect for many of the issues that have been identified as needing progress. Accessibility is also a priority within the Convention and New Zealand’s Disability Strategy. 

Over the last few months I have been out in the regions holding forums with local disability communities and meeting with disability groups and organisations. In these meetings I have been hearing first-hand the issues around accessibility.

Recently at Parliament I was presented with a book of stories by the Access Alliance from people who had experienced accessibility barriers. A group of about 60 people, ranging in age from young people to over 65 year olds, with incredibly diverse backgrounds came together to be a part of this event. This group of people showed their passion and dedication to a more accessible New Zealand, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.

Earlier this year I was presented with a petition to put accessibility into a legislative form. Accessibility is already enforced in law in some other countries, and I am currently looking into the role legislation plays in these countries, and how that might apply here in New Zealand. Any changes that we consider will be done so alongside the disabled community, reflecting our commitment to ‘nothing about us, without us’.

However, legislation is only part of the answer. The power to change things for disabled people for the better lies with everyone - local authorities, business owners, venue owners, local community clubs, and restaurants. For disabled people to be able to enjoy all that life has to offer, they need – and have the right - to be able to access and enjoy community activities, sporting events and arts performances, and the like, with ease and dignity.

I want to acknowledge that Government has a leading role in achieving the changes required to promote an Aotearoa that is inclusive, accessible and a great place to live for disabled people.

I also acknowledge and celebrate that many others share this vision. Achieving that vision can only occur through the work and commitment of many and by ensuring that disabled people are listened to and involved.

Articles in this newsletter include information about the ODI’s work including the consultation on the Disability Action Plan, and the new NZSL Strategy. I want to encourage you all to get involved with the consultation going on, and to make sure your voices are heard. As a Government we are committed to a more inclusive accessible New Zealand, and we need to work with disabled people to make that happen.

Ngā Mihi

Hon Carmel Sepuloni Minister for Disability Issues



Disability Action Plan

It’s time to identify actions to be progressed in the new 2019 – 2022 Disability Action Plan (DAP). The Office for Disability Issues and the Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) Coalition will be holding the workshops across the country from November and into the New Year to hear the views of disabled people and the organisations that work with them. These workshops are part of a series to be held across the country.

The DAP is important as it is the government’s commitment to actions to implement the New Zealand Disability Strategy (2016 – 2026). This work builds on meetings held in 2018 by Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues, to gather ideas about what might be in the new Action Plan from disabled people in Whangarei, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Invercargill, Rotorua and Hamilton. Frequent issues that are being raised with the Minister at these meetings include the lack of accessible transport, the need to progress inclusive education, employment issues, the need to improve attitudes toward disability, better respite care options, the difficulties of low income and the costs of disability and the need for accessible and affordable housing.

The ODI and DPOs would love to visit each and every region, however our time and resources are limited. Please take the opportunity to contribute to the feedback through online, email, telephone, Facebook or Twitter if you are unable to attend one of the workshops. People who can’t make one of the meetings can also provide their feedback by text or by sending a video submission . This consultation will continue into the New Year.

The workshops will be held around New Zealand from November 2018 until February 2019. We will try and keep each workshop to one and a half hours. The workshops will start with a short presentation and then focus on listening to ideas about what should be in the new Disability Action Plan 2019-2022.

Once feedback has been gathered, a report will be provided in 2019 from the Office for Disability Issues and the DPO Coalition to the Minister on the actions that will be implemented in the new 2019-2022 Disability Action Plan. The Minister will then take the new Disability Action Plan to Cabinet.

You can find out more about these public consultation meetings, as well as ways to contribute to the conversation online and over the phone, at the Office for Disability Issues website



A new Strategy to promote NZSL

NZSL Strategy 2018-2023 - front cover
NZSL Strategy 2018 - 2023 - front cover

Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Carmel Sepuloni, chose the UN's inaugural celebration of the International Day for Sign Languages on 23 September to release the new strategy to maintain and promote the uptake and use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

The New Zealand Sign Language Strategy 2018-2023, has been developed by the NZSL Board and sets the strategic direction for NZSL over the next five years.

This work is important and is in line with the Government’s priorities to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families. Language opens up a wealth of opportunities for Deaf people – including social, cultural, educational and employment opportunities. It is a matter of human rights that we embrace NZSL to promote equal opportunities for Deaf people.

New Zealand is one of very few countries where its sign language is an official language. We are recognised as a world leader for our commitment to the use of NZSL in Aotearoa. It is vital to our expression of culture and identity.

Minister Sepuloni said, “NZSL is the cherished taonga of the Deaf community and is core to their realisation of mana and Deaf culture. NZSL is part of what makes Aotearoa unique. While this is positive, I know that we must and can do better; that’s why the new Strategy will be for five years, giving more time for the Board to plan and achieve better NZSL outcomes for the Deaf Community and New Zealand.”

The new NZSL Strategy will focus on five priority areas: Acquisition, Use and access, Attitude, Documentation, and Status. Find out more about the NZSL Board Strategy at www.odi.govt.nz/nzsl/nzsl-strategy-2018-2023/ . Information is also available online in NZSL video format and you can link to this information using the QR codes in the published strategy.



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