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Mainstream employer of the year award - Speech

Hon Trevor Mallard
4 December 2003 Speech Notes

Mainstream employer of the year award

Mainstream Employer of the Year Awards 2003, Parliament, Wellington

I am delighted to present the Mainstream Employer of the Year Awards for 2003.

However, before I do so, I’d like to take a few minutes to share some of the Mainstream Programme’s achievements over the past year.

These include the development and filming of the programme’s new promotional video - on show as you entered the chamber; the first Disability Mentoring Day; and the extension of the Mainstream Programme into schools.

The Mainstream Programme operates in line with Government’s Disability Strategy objectives and those outlined in the strategy ‘Pathways to Inclusion’.

The advantages and benefits of supporting this programme are many. Mainstream offers employers committed staff members, who are keen to get their foot in the door of employment and make the most of their opportunities.

’Out of the Shallows and into the Mainstream’ is a series of video interviews, which showcase the working life of people with significant disabilities on Mainstream placements in State sector organisations, alongside their non-disabled peers.

The video also features their supervisors discussing the positive impact Mainstream participants can have in the workplace.

This year also saw the promotion, and hosting, of the first New Zealand Disability Mentoring Day.

This was an opportunity for departments to promote career development for students with disabilities, through job shadowing and hands-on career exploration.

A great aspect of the day was the participation of many public servants who themselves experience disability, providing mentoring to the students.

Many of the students and mentors associated with Disability Mentoring Day 2002 expressed their support of the initiative.

One student said the experience “was validating—a very valuable experience for me. I started to feel capable of rejoining the work force – that I did have work-skills, and was capable of up-skilling where necessary. I hope that I can make a contribution in return.’

One public servant mentor said: ”Judging from the quality of the interactions I observed between various of my colleagues and the student I was mentoring, and from the comments I overheard at the closing function this evening, the day was a big success. Some of the students were absolutely beaming by the end of the day, having had a really positive encounter with their mentors and other staff in the mentors' departments.”

Disability Mentoring Day will be held again in May 2004. Due to demand, the day will be extended and celebrated in Christchurch and Wellington.

Another initiative launched this year was the extension of the Mainstream programme into schools. Earlier this year, during a visit to Upper Hutt College,
I was pleased to meet the first Mainstream participant to be placed in a school.

This was an ideal coincidence of two of my portfolios: State Services and Education.

I was impressed with the work being done by the Mainstream participant in the IT area. Upper Hutt College is making the most of his expertise.

Since the Upper Hutt College position was created, a further 22 school placements have been made around the country. This is in addition to the 29 new placements into other State sector organisations, since 1 July this year.
I gather a further ten placements are pending and will commence in the next month or so.

As a Government we are keen to increase the diversity of the public sector workforce and to remove barriers that are stopping people with disabilities working and engaging in community life.

Our work here in New Zealand is aligned with international initiatives to promote equality of opportunity for people with disabilities.

The establishment of the International Day of Disabled Persons (this year it was yesterday, 3 December) focuses on giving a voice to the human experiences of people with disabilities.

It is therefore fitting that we should be here celebrating the achievements of Mainstream participants and their State sector employers at this time of year.

International Day of Disabled Persons aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities.

It also seeks to increase awareness of the gains to be made from the integration of people with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

The Mainstream Employer of the Year awards enable people with significant disabilities to speak for themselves. Unlike other awards of this type, all nominations are made by people with disabilities.

After all, who best knows about their own experience in the work-place?

It is now my great pleasure to announce the three merit and one overall award winners of the 2003 Mainstream Employer of the Year.

You may recall that last year’s overall award winner was Massey University, Palmerston North.

The first merit award winner to be announced this year is the Massey University Library, Wellington. The library was nominated by Kirsten Julian. I’d like to invite Kirsten’s supervisor, Christine Alexander, to accept the award.

The second winner of a merit award is Community and Public Health – Christchurch DHB. They were nominated by Dawn Gourdie. Would Dawn’s supervisor, Gerrie van der Zander, please come up and accept the award.

The third merit award winner is the Lincoln University Library, in Canterbury. The library was nominated by Lara O'Connor. I invite Lyndsay Ainsworth to accept the award.

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for …

The winner of the Mainstream Employer of the Year Award for 2003 is the New Zealand Police, Tauranga.

This nomination was made by ex Mainstream participant, Troy Archer. Troy no longer works for the Tauranga police because he is now working in open employment in the private sector. I’d like to invite one of Troy’s former colleagues, Ray Johnstone, to accept the award and to say a few words.

ENDS

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