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Government takes disability rights backwards

Government takes disability rights backwards

The restructuring of the Human Rights Commission provides more evidence that the National-led Government is simply paying lip-service to the needs of disabled New Zealanders, Labour’s spokesperson for Disability Issues, Clare Curran, says.

“As the world acknowledges International Day for People with Disabilities today there is a growing body of evidence that our government is winding back desperately needed legislative changes and services that would allow the one in five New Zealanders with a disability to more fully participate in society.

“One example of that backward movement is the newly introduced Human Rights Amendment Bill. It has set off alarm bells within the sector with its proposal that the functions of specialist commissioners - such as the disability issues commissioner - be absorbed into the Commission.

“There is also concern that the roles will be downgraded and that the Bill will limit the scope of what the disability commissioner can comment on.

“This follows a damning report by the Convention Coalition, which showed that thousands of New Zealanders with disabilities face insurmountable barriers to getting paid work despite their eagerness for employment.

“Barriers outlined include a lack of accessible transport, inadequate policy that hinders communication and interaction; a lack of access to interpreters, a lack of easy-to-read and braille documents and a lack of accessible electronic texts.

“Today offers an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people who live with disabilities every day - often described as ‘the world’s largest minority’ - as well as promote and initiate conversation about how all of us can do better to support them.

“I hope Tariana Turia, as Minister, will see it as a chance to engage with the sector and work constructively towards furthering our commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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