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New Zealand Disability Support Network Annual Awards

Hon Tariana Turia

Minister for Disability Issues

13 August 2014

New Zealand Disability Support Network Annual Awards Cocktail Function
Te Marae, Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

There are many reasons why I am so pleased to be with you tonight.

First and foremost it is a great pleasure to have watched the progress of the New Zealand Disability Support Network since I officially launched it four years ago in 2010.

I launched the network having been in the job of Minister of Disability Issues just one short but frenetic year.

At times it felt like I was sitting in the centre of Grand Central Station as each new train came onto the platform, passengers would disembark or transfer into the interchange and make way for another new arrival shunting into the yard.

It felt hectic but it was also hard to see how we could bring a focus, at the highest level of Government, to the issues that were being raised at the table – often many of the same issues but through different voices.

And if there’s one major highlight of my five years in the role, it is to be proud of the new way of working we have embraced with disabled people’s organisations and with disabled persons and their families.

A very big part of this has been the influence of the independent monitoring mechanism, with
· the appointment of a Disability Rights Commissioner in the Human Rights Commission

· the advocacy and guidance of the Ombudsman

· and the lived expertise of Convention Coalition Monitoring Group of Disabled Persons Organisations.

We now have a way of working together – and a Disability Action Plan to ensure we are on track.

What has been so exciting about the independent monitoring model is that it is a process of co-design which in many respects, reflects the aspirations of the United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities.

It is about having a framework to prioritise resources, to be able to say this is what we want to do, and how we want to do it.

For the 2014-2018 action plan, there are four shared result areas to focus on:
· increasing access

· transforming disability supports

· promoting employment

· ensuring personal safety

I want to be really clear just how important it is to hold government to account in ensuring the amazing work that has happened over the last few years that it continues to deliver.

We have all been committed to a journey which is ultimately about providing greater hope and ambition for disabled people and their families that they can, and indeed are entitled to have a quality to experience equal rights of citizenship in their land.

And I want to refer to just one other initiative that has got me really excited and that is about Enabling Good Lives.

Back in 2010 – about the time that the New Zealand Disability Support Network was established – I asked a group of leaders from the disability sector to take a blank piece of paper and come back to me with a plan for what needs to change to create good lives for disabled people.

The principles and the outcomes that underpin Enabling Good Lives fulfill that vision for disabled persons and their families to have greater choice and control over their supports and their lives.

In essence, enabling good lives is about articulating what works best to enable them to meet their own aspirations.

Right now we have a group of school-leavers in Christchurch who are starting to try new things with the opportunities offered by more flexible, joined up government funding. They are developing plans for what they want to achieve, and how they are going to do it. The funding is fitting around what they want to do.

It’s not rocket science but it is about thinking differently – about ensuring positive attitudes and behaviours towards disabled persons – doing whatever it takes to enable them to achieve and to succeed in life.

I want to just share two views about humility.

The writer CS Lewis once said ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself - it’s thinking of yourself less.’

And the philosopher, Paola Friere, shared his view that ‘dialogue cannot exist without humility.’

One of my aunts who raised me used to say if you’ve done the right thing, you don’t need to talk about it.

I wanted to share ideas at this celebration event, because it there is one thing that has absolutely left me in awe, throughout my experience with the disability sector, is to experience extraordinary acts of courage and of kindness from people who say they’re just ordinary people.

These are people who are taking on the world and still looking for more challenges. I have met people who through their quiet wisdom have shown me amazing ways of transforming attitudes and creating better lives.

There are others who have bounded into my office full of joy and vitality and shown me that nothing is impossible.

The disability sector never ceases to impress me by the way that there ain’t no mountain high enough, no barrier that can get in their way from making the difference that is required.

In short, whether it is providers, or disability sector organisations or disabled people and their families this sector – more than any other sector I have known in my eighteen years as a Member of Parliament – is driven by people who are absolutely determined to do whatever it takes to create great lives.

This then, brings me to the purpose for tonight – and that is to recognize and reward success within the disability sector as nominated and voted for by the members of the New Zealand Disability Support Network and I have to say you are all winners because there would not be one person in this room who is not a winner in someone’s eyes.

Parliament officially dissolves tomorrow, on Thursday 14th, and I can tell you that there is no better way for me to be closing off this term of parliament – and indeed my parliamentary career – than to celebrate with you all the champions, the humble heroes who have been responsible for such wonderful initiatives, innovations, concepts and solutions within disability support.

While tonight we are celebrating six awards, in my heart I am celebrating the last six years as a Minister and how very privileged I have been to have learnt from your leadership, to have admired your collective example and to be proud of the transformation the disability sector has achieved in creating the lives that you want to live.

Thank you so much to each and every one of you for sharing your life with me. I look forward to continuing to see amazing things achieved by you all as you make your life extraordinary in every sense of the word.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou katoa.


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