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DPEP Act Repeal Debate Not Necessary

The debate about the repeal of the DPEP Act is not necessary- the law needs to change.

National Chairperson of People First New Zealand Cheryl Wallace says “It is wrong to have laws that deny people with disabilities the same employment rights as the rest of the working population of New Zealand.”

This is a human rights issue. The Disabled Persons Employment Promotion Act actively discriminates against workers on the grounds of disability and is in breach of all human rights legislation. In keeping with New Zealand’s great reputation as a leader in the rights of disabled people this legislation must be changed.

This year People First has produced a series of videos called “Colours of Inclusion: Ka haere tahi tatau”. These were launched at Parliament last month and they show real life examples of people with intellectual disabilities working in paid jobs and spending time in the community. We want to use these videos to educate the public of New Zealand about what is possible for disabled people.

In the past we have been sheltered and isolated from our communities. We don’t want this or need this anymore. We cannot grow and learn to be part of the community in New Zealand if laws like the DPEP Act exist and continue to keep us segregated.

This change might be hard for some people, but we need to move forward, think and plan how to make things better for all disabled people. We need to remember that the repeal of the DPEP Act is only part of a wider policy direction for vocational services called “Pathways to Inclusion” which was launched in 2001 so people have had a long time to plan for changes

Stop the unnecessary debate, change the law and give us the same employment rights as all other New Zealanders.

Cheryl Wallace National Chairperson

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