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New Disability Office Gets Go-Ahead

27 March 2002

A new Office of Disability Issues will be set up within the Ministry of Social Development on 1 July 2002, Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson and Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey announced today.

The office will give policy advice on disability issues, lead the government's implementation and monitoring of the New Zealand Disability Strategy, and report directly to the Minister for Disability Issues. Six full-time staff will be employed initially, expanding to 10 full-time staff over the next five years.

Ms Dyson said the new office would address the long-standing need for a cross-sectoral approach to disability issues.

"For years, the disability sector has been concerned about the inappropriate placement of all disability issues in a health context. People with disabilities face barriers in many areas, including education, employment, housing, transport and social services.

"The new office will provide strong leadership and coordinated action across all sectors. It will support government departments in their efforts to implement the New Zealand Disability Strategy, and monitor their progress. It will also work closely with the disability sector, both during the setting-up phase and in the development of its work programmes."

Ms Dyson thanked the Disability Issues Directorate in the Ministry of Health for its role in developing the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

"The Disability Issues Directorate has done a great job getting the disability strategy up and running. It will have a close relationship with the new office, but will now be able to focus on its core area of responsibility, disability support services."

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey also welcomed the establishment of the new office.

"This is a positive extension of the Ministry of Social Development's work, which will raise the profile of disability issues across government," he said.


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