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Minister Congratulates City Council On Partnership

Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson today congratulated the Auckland City Council for forming a partnership with people with disabilities in the region.

"The Disability Relationship Project you have set up is a superb example of the New Zealand Disability Strategy in action," Ms Dyon said at a workshop organised by the council and the Disability Issues Advisory Group, called Building an Inclusive Auckland.

"The project's three priorities – direct input of people with disabilities into policy and service planning; disability awareness training for council staff; and communication and advocacy – link directly to key objectives of the strategy," she said.

Ms Dyson said she was not there to tell workshop participants what central government thought they should do.

"You are the people who understand the needs in your communities, know what works at a local level, and can respond quickly and innovatively to local circumstances as they evolve.

"Most importantly, you have got the process right, by involving people with disabilities in policy planning and service development from the start - rather than as an afterthought or not at all.

"Your focus on the quality of the relationship – spelt out in the name of the project - is the best guarantee of your success.

"It is no coincidence that the first step outlined in the strategy's vision of creating a fully inclusive society is that "people with disabilities have a meaningful relationship with Government, communities and support agencies, based on respect and equality".

Ruth Dyson said that the New Zealand Disability Strategy, launched in April 2001, was a milestone for people with disabilities.

"The strategy gives the government, for the first time ever, a national vision and plan of action to address the needs of people with disabilities."
Ms Dyson said that, while the strategy focused primarily on government departments and agencies, local authorities also had a huge impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

"I hear far too many stories of the frustration faced by people with disabilities trying to live in, and move around, the community when their rights and needs are not considered," she said.

The New Zealand Disability Strategy's objectives include education and employment opportunities; support systems and services; lifestyle choices, recreation and culture. Specific barriers faced by Maori, Pacific people and women with disabilities, and families/whanau supporting people with disabilities, are also recognised.

This year, 11 key government departments have developed work plans to implement the disability strategy. From next year, all government departments will develop annual work plans.

"These work plans will deliver real change towards our goals of an inclusive society in New Zealand," Ms Dyson said.

The 'Building an Inclusive Auckland' workshop will be held on Tuesday, 24 July 2001, from 10am-1pm at the Western Springs Garden Complex, 956 Western Springs Road, Auckland. Ruth Dyson will speak at around 10am.


Ends


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