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Tariana Turia - Human Rights Commission

Hon Tariana Turia
Minister for Disability Issues

20 May 2010 Budget 2010

Human Rights Commission, Level 1, 44 The Terrace, Wellington

I’d have to be honest, and say that as a general rule, the concept of Budgets isn’t one that usually fills me with excitement.

But there’s two very good reasons – and inter-related reasons – for why I’ve changed my mind this Budget.

The first has been the worst kept secret of Budget 2010 – and that’s the investment in Whanau Ora.

The second is the best kept secret and that’s the investment that is being made in improving the lives of disabled persons and their families.

I have been profoundly moved by the calls from disabled persons and their families for opportunities to achieve full and effective participation and inclusion in society.

I have met with so many individuals and groups, who are united in their passionate belief that people with disabilities should be able to live independently and participated fully in all aspects of life.

Your stories have touched me; your experiences have illustrated the steps we need to take in creating access to education, employment and equal life opportunities.

I am reminded of the significance of the words uttered in the preamble to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers than hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis”.

Improving attitudes to Disabled People
It’s all about attitude.

Government is determined that we can do something about this – we can eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive, and set about creating the major shift in how disabled people are viewed.

In today’s Budget we have invested three million dollars over the next three years to develop a programme of transformation which targets discriminatory behaviour and promotes the power of positive perceptions.

I am really excited by the challenge that this will bring with it.

The Office of Disability Issues will work with employers, educational and health services, community organisations, and importantly the media – to raise public awareness of the barriers that get in the way of disabled persons being able to live ordinary lives.

Promoting Lifetime Design
In thinking further about the barriers that obstruct us, today’s budget also announces a proposal to ensure basic house designs are more accessible, more affordable and better targeted.

I want to acknowledge Viv Maidaborn for her dedicated efforts towards convincing Government of the value of promoting design standards for homes that are accessible over a persons’ lifetime.
The efforts of CCS Disability Action have borne fruit today in a $1.5million dollar Lifetime Design Standard. The Lifetime Design sets an expectation that houses will be safe, affordable, comfortable and easy to adapt to changing family needs, particularly those of disabled and older family members.

Future proofing housing with universal and accessible design is an important means of being able to support the rights of disabled persons to live an ordinary life.

Promoting, Protecting and Monitoring Disabled Persons’ Rights

In Budget 2010 the rights of disabled persons take on a whole new significance with the investment of $2.34 million over the next three years to strengthen our reputation as a world leader in the crucial areas of supporting disabled persons to do their own monitoring.

It was with great pleasure this morning that we heard Professor Ron McCallum describe the outstanding contribution of Don McKay at the United Nations. He paid tribute also to the New Zealand disabled persons organisations and the Human Rights Commission as pioneers in upholding the Convention.

Professor McCallum issued the challenge that is associated with Article 33 of the Convention, stating that no one in the world has yet come to grips with the expectation of a national monitoring system to ensure an independent view on performance.

And so it is with much trepidation, that I take up that challenge and am pleased to announce today, three distinct priorities in the independent monitoring of disabled persons rights

- The Human Rights Commission will increase its advocacy for disabled people, acting as an independent public cause champion of disabled persons rights;

- The Ombudsmen will act as an independent mechanism to monitor and report on the implementation of the United Nations Convention,

- And the Government has also invested $750, 000 in resourcing a network of disabled person’s organisations to monitor their own experience.

I’m especially proud of this last strand of work – and I want to acknowledge the excitement that I know has been generated by Dr Marcia Rioux in the training programme that will be run under the auspices of the Disability Rights Promotion International Project

As well as these new and distinctive initiatives, today’s Budget delivers an additional $93 million for disability support over the next four years.

There are a couple of items that I want to highlight in this new funding.

I’m really delighted that an additional twenty million is being invested into providing more home modifications and equipment.

This is a substantial increase and something that I am absolutely thrilled to announce today.

The extra funding means that people will be able to access equipment and modifications much sooner than they can at the moment, which is all about allowing them to lead more independent lives.

The second initiative is an additional $16 million over four years for cochlear implants. This will help to maintain funding for profoundly deaf children who need these services. It will also help to ensure cochlear implants are available to an increased number of adults who have become profoundly deaf.

Finally, I want to pay my special acknowledgement to disabled peoples organisations for the vision you uphold as part of the Convention Coalition.

I want to congratulate you all for the leadership you provide, the commitment to participation at a high level, the investment in connection with your communities, and the efforts you make in working in ways to uphold the rights of disabled people.

Your example, in expressing your commitment to developing shared outcomes provides me with a great deal of optimism for our pathway forward.

I wish you well for the training this weekend – I would have to say this is the quickest acting sector I have ever known. The announcement that we were investing in independent monitoring of disabled people’s rights was only made at 2pm today - and already this weekend you are set to make that aspiration a reality.

This has been an important milestone budget for disability issues – but it doesn’t stop here. I give you my absolute assurance, as your Minister, that I will do everything possible to continue to advance the interests of disabled people and their families; to drive the change we need.

ENDS

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