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Disability strategy a first for New Zealand

Monday 30 April 2001
Media Statement

Disability strategy a first for New Zealand


Prime Minister Helen Clark and Minister for Disability Issues Lianne Dalziel today launched the first New Zealand Disability Strategy.

The aim of the New Zealand Disability Strategy, entitled Making a World of Difference, Whakanui Oranga, is to remove the barriers which prevent disabled people from participating fully in society.

The strategy outlines fifteen objectives in areas such as human rights, social attitudes, education and employment, recreation and lifestyle, information, public services and support systems. More than 100 broad government actions will underpin these objectives.

Speaking at the launch of the strategy at Parliament, Helen Clark said:
"Societies are built in ways which assume we can all move quickly from one side of the road to the other, that we can all see signs, read directions, hear announcements, reach buttons, climb stairs, open heavy doors, interpret complex information, and have stable moods and perceptions.

"But, for the one in five New Zealanders with a long-term impairment, that is not necessarily the case. Many are unable to reach their full potential or participate fully in our communities because of the barriers they face doing everyday things.

"These barriers are socially constructed – and they can be removed. That, in a nutshell, is the aim of the New Zealand Disability Strategy."

Helen Clark said the strategy gives Government a framework, for the first time, to address disability issues across agencies, policies, services, and legislation.

A number of initiatives related to the strategy are already underway. They include a review of vocational services for disabled people, funding for the 2001 Disability Survey, an improved and expanded standard covering access to buildings and related facilities, and the e-government strategy.

Helen Clark said while the strategy focused primarily on what government can do, consultation with disabled people had shown that public attitudes were the main barrier they faced.
"This challenges all New Zealanders to ask themselves whether they judge people by what they can't do, rather than what they can do," she said.

Government departments will be required to prepare annual work plans outlining how they intend implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy. Eleven key departments will develop work plans for 2001/2002. From 2002/2003, all government departments will develop annual work plans.

Departments' performances will be monitored, with input from disabled people. Overall progress on implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy will be reviewed after five and ten years.

Minister for Disability Issues Lianne Dalziel said the New Zealand Disability Strategy delivered on a key Labour-Alliance pre-election commitment and marked a turning point in the relationship between government and disabled people.

She paid tribute to Ruth Dyson, the former Minister for Disability Issues, and thanked the Disability Sector Reference Group who had written the discussion document and provided advice to the gvernment on the final content of the Strategy.

Lianne Dalziel said the Government had received 700 submissions on the strategy, showing the exceptional level of interest in it.

"The New Zealand Disability Strategy is a major step forward in disability policy. It is an excellent starting point on which to build a fully inclusive society where disabled people are able to participate in our communities and reach their full potential," she said.


Following the launch, the New Zealand Disability Strategy and related information will be available on the website: www.nzds.govt.nz. The Strategy document and the summary of consultation findings will also be available in a variety of formats, including large font, Braille, audio-cassette and an easy-to-read version.

ENDS

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