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Submissions for Accessible Land Transport Inquiry

Report invites public submissions for Accessible Land Transport Inquiry

A report released by the Human Rights Commission on Wednesday invites people to make submissions as part of the Commission's Inquiry into Accessible Public Land Transport for people with disabilities. The Inquiry, which was announced in September, will consider the need for changes to legislation, regulations, policies and procedures and funding arrangements.

The consultation report provides a comprehensive assessment of accessible land transport issues for people with disabilities in New Zealand. The report includes the views both of people with disabilities and of people working in the transport sector.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said a lot of people take the ability to make use of a number of forms of transport for granted. "For many people with disabilities public land transport may be their only means of transport."

"The lack of an accessible public land transport system is often a major barrier for disabled people to access jobs, education or even recreation and other community activities," Ms Noonan said.

Submissions made by members of the public are now being accepted and can be made in a variety of ways. Copies of the Inquiry Consultation Report can be found on the Commission's web site: www.hrc.co.nz/Inquiry Submissions close on 31 August. The dates for public hearings, which will be held in centres around the country in July and August, were also announced:

* Auckland - 19-21 July

* Dunedin - 2-4 August

* Oamaru - 5 August

* Wellington - 9-11 August

* Palmerston North - 12 August

"It is important that all those with an interest in accessible land transport issues make a submission or attend a public hearing in July or August," Ms Noonan said.

The issue is potentially a large one. The 2000-2001 national disability survey, conducted by Statistics New Zealand found that one in five New Zealanders - a total of 743,800 people - reported some level of disability.

The Inquiry followed a number of complaints and enquiries, made to the Commission, suggesting some elements of the public transport system were not accessible to people with disabilities.

"Although we've been able to resolve some of these there are clearly issues that require a wider more systemic approach," Ms Noonan said.

The Inquiry, which is being conducted under Section 5(2) (h) of the Human Rights Act 1993, is the first such Inquiry conducted since the Act was amended in 2001.

Ms Noonan acknowledged the positive response to the Inquiry from many in the public transport industry and said any solutions would need wide support.

"Addressing the issues raised will require the involvement of the community as a whole and cannot simply be directed toward individual transport operators or regional councils to address," she said.

Since 1994 discrimination against people with disabilities has been unlawful in a number of areas including access by the public to places, vehicles and facilities and in the provision of goods and services.

Making a submission/further information

Submissions or indications of those wanting to present their submissions at the public hearings should be sent to: Bruce Coleman, Project Manager, Human Rights Commission, PO Box 1578, Christchurch; or to brucec@hrc.co.nz

Public submissions will be received up until 31 August 2004, although those people wishing to present their submissions at the public hearings need to inform the Commission by 30 June 2004. People can also make telephone submissions between 7-18 June.

Copies of the Inquiry Consultation Report can be found on the Commission's web site: www.hrc.co.nz/Inquiry Public Hearings

Hearing venues will be posted in the public notices sections of local newspapers closer to the scheduled dates. The information will also be available by contacting the Commission Infoline (0800 496 877) or on the HRC web site: www.hrc.co.nz/Inquiry.

Inquiry into Accessible Public Land Transport > Questions and Answers

Why is the Commission conducting the Inquiry? Since 1994 discrimination against people with disabilities has been unlawful in a number of areas including access by the public to places, vehicles and facilities and in the provision of goods and services.

The Commission has received a significant number of complaints, enquiries and representations that suggest some elements of the public transport system may not be accessible to people with disabilities. The Commission has been able to resolve some of these issues using the disputes resolution processes contained in the Human Rights Act 1993. However, many of the issues brought to the Commission require a systemic approach to facilitate nationwide access to public land transport services for people with disabilities.

The Commission considers that an inquiry will establish the range of issues involved for the various public land transport users and providers, allow all those with an interest to express their views and incorporate best practice from other jurisdictions in any proposed solutions.

Under what section of the Human Rights Act is the Inquiry being conducted? The Inquiry is being conducted under Section 5(2) (h) of the Human Rights Act 1993.

How is disability defined for the purposes of the Inquiry? For the purposes of this Inquiry people with disabilities have the meaning contained in section 21(1) h of the Human Rights Act 1993. This meaning covers the following:

(i) Physical disability or impairment;

(ii) Physical illness;

(iii) Psychiatric illness;

(iv) Intellectual or psychological disability or impairment;

Any other loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function;

(vi) Reliance on a guide dog, wheelchair, or other remedial means;

(vii) The presence in the body of organisms capable of causing illness.

How can I make a submission?

The Commission is committed to an Inquiry that consults widely in ways that respect the dignity of all those involved. People can make submissions in a variety of ways including oral submissions made at the hearings or by forwarding their submissions on tape, by e-mail, fax or letter.

Written submissions to the Inquiry can be made in either Màori or English. Oral submissions to the hearings can be made in Màori, English or New Zealand Sign Language. More information on how to make a submission is contained on the Commission web site (www.hrc.co.nz/Inquiry) When will the hearings take place? Hearings will take place in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Oamaru and Palmerston North in July and August 2004.

Will the hearings be public? The hearings will be open to any member of the public. A schedule of hearing times (and locations) will be circulated in advance of the hearings so that interested parties have an opportunity to attend and hear submissions of particular interest to them. Hearing details will also be posted on the HRC web site: (www.hrc.co.nz/Inquiry)

Who will sit on the Inquiry Panel? The Inquiry Panel will be chaired by Human Rights Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan. The other members of the Panel are Human Rights Commissioner Robyn Hunt and EEO Commissioner Judy McGregor.

Will the final report be made public? The final report will be released publicly in early 2005. The report will also be placed on the HRC web site: (www.hrc.co.nz/Inquiry).

How will the report's recommendations be implemented? The report will be presented to Government, local Government and transport providers for implementation. The implementation process will be monitored by the Human Rights Commission.

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