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Launch of EMERGE Trust

Hon Steve Maharey
19 March 2001 Speech Notes

Launch of EMERGE Trust

Comments to mark the launch of the EMERGE Trust. Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

I am delighted to join my friend and colleague the Hon Lianne Dalziel in marking the launch of EMERGE.

The EMERGE Trust was founded in March last year and is primarily concerned with the provision of supported employment for people with disabilities. It was formed by a small group of parents of children with disabilities, their friends, supporters and professionals in the field of supported employment.

I understand that It aims to provide supported employment services for people with a range of disabilities, and has established links with agencies such as the Deaf Association, the Blind Foundation, IHC, SES and CCS.

Moreover the trust plans to provide employment that is of reasonable duration for people with disabilities, but employment that is not in enclaves, that is not sheltered, and that is not segregated.

Employment of this kind will be provided by:

„h providing the support needed by a disabled person in a mainstream employment setting
„h training
„h job modification
„h consultation with employers
„h encouragement
„h job coaching
„h on-going support, and
„h appropriate rates of pay and conditions of employment.

While I have the opportunity provided by this event, let me tell you something about progress the Government is making with its review of vocational services for people with disabilities, and foreshadow the drafting and introduction of the Social Security (Support for People with Disabilities) Amendment Bill.

I agreed to Terms of Reference for the review in July last year and details of the terms of reference were made available through a mail-out to the disability sector last August.

The original terms of reference were then broadened following discussions between Ministers and with officials, and an overview of the entire range of publicly funded vocational services is now being undertaken to set the review of services funded through the Department of Work and Income in its proper context and to ensure that recommendations arising out of that review are not inconsistent with the wider context.

An initial consultation document, "The Vocational Services Review: How you can be involved", was released to the disability sector on the 22nd of September. The Department of Labour subsequently received a number of submissions.

We also established an Advisory Group last year made up of people with disabilities, people nominated by provider and disability organisations, and officials.
Last October the Government decided to better align the review of vocational services and the review of sheltered employment and the Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Act.

Where do we go to from here?

I met with officials from the Department of Labour last week to review progress with the review.

The Government will publish within the next 6 weeks a paper foreshadowing, at a reasonable level of detail, where, in policy terms it intends going arising out of the review to date. I will then take final recommendations to my cabinet Colleagues once we have received feedback on that document.

In this review, as in all others the Government has conducted, the balance that has to be found is that between acting expeditiously, while at the same time ensuring that key stakeholders are involved. At times the requirement for the latter can try the patience of those who are already well advanced in their thinking and whose policy preferences are clear.

I thank the sector for participating in this review, and for your patience. The final outcomes from the review will, I am confident, be all the better for your participation and support.

So far as the Support for People with Disabilities Bill is concerned, at the very least I want to see this Bill drafted this year, and I would very much hope that it will be introduced and referred to the Select Committee.

The Bill will contain provisions that will provide opportunities and support for recipients of the sickness and invalids benefits. In particular provisions will be contained in the Bill aimed at increasing the employment participation of this group. Consideration will be given to extending individualised assistance with the possibility of setting up agreements similar to the job seeker agreements operating for work-tested beneficiaries.

It goes without saying, but given our shared experience over the last 15 years I will say it ¡V any changes will be fully discussed with organisations like your own, and the sector generally.

Once again, let me add my congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of the launch of EMERGE.

I look forward to working with you.

ENDS

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