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Lives of disabled people continuing to improve

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Disability Issues

Embargoed until 17 August 2008 Media Statement

Lives of disabled people in New Zealand continuing to improve

Minister for Disability Issues Ruth Dyson, welcomes the New Zealand Disability Strategy Implementation Review. The report is an independent review into the progress made by central government agencies implementing the strategy from April 2001 to June 2007.

“It's very pleasing to see a huge shift in the attitude towards disability in New Zealand. The changes made across government agencies and wider society has ensured that disability issues are considered at all levels and quarters in New Zealand," said Ms Dyson.

“One indicator of progress has been that New Zealand won the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Disability Award (Roosevelt Award) last year. This award recognises countries that have made noteworthy progress in improving the lives of disabled people through economic, humanitarian and social efforts.

“The review involved wide consultation including in-depth interviews with disabled people, disabled people’s membership organisations, parents of disabled children, disability support providers, central government agencies, local authorities, District Health Boards, tertiary education institutions and lead implementation agencies.

”I acknowledge New Zealand still has some way to go before disabled people can say they are living in a fully inclusive society that values and enhances their participation in the community. New Zealand is striving to make a truly enabling society a reality for all our citizens,” said Ms Dyson.

The report is available at www.odi.govt.nz


Life and Disability: a review into the effectiveness of the “New Zealand Disability Strategy Implementation 2001-2007”

The Disability Strategy is a government document mandated under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000. The Disability Strategy’s vision of a fully inclusive society will be realised when disabled people say they live in a society that highly values their lives and continually enhances their full participation.

Litmus Ltd, an independent research agency based in Wellington, conducted the first review of progress on the implementation of the Disability Strategy for the period April 2001 to June 2007.

Key findings
The review found that that Disability Strategy is still relevant.

Disabled people felt that implementation over the six years had resulted in positive changes, including:
• greater empowerment
• improved communications and accessibility
• wide recognition of their value and contribution to society
• greater inclusion in central government decision making.
• There have been significant levels of government implementation activity, including:
• a lot of work to understand disability issues
• considerable consultation with disabled people
• increased accessibility to government information and services
• provision of more funding into services and supports accessed by disabled people
• legislative changes to remove barriers to participation and reduce discrimination.
• Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go and disabled people feel progress is too slow.

Four challenges to implementation.
• society’s attitudes to disabled people
• absence of a national implementation plan and linked funding
• size and status of the Office of Disability Issue
• embedding in government agencies knowledge about disability issues and responsiveness to disabled people

The review makes twenty recommendations to improve Disability Strategy implementation.
In summary, these recommendations suggest:
• Prioritising implementation activities that are likely to have the greatest positive effect on the lives of disabled people.
• Providing additional focus on those disabled people who are the most disadvantaged.
• Moving to multi-year plans and reports for priority areas that are contributed to by multiple agencies, including central government agencies, local government agencies, district health boards and disability support providers.
• Refining annual planning and reporting requirements to better align with agencies’ planning cycles.
• Enhancing support to central government agencies to improve, and embed, their disability responsiveness.
• Facilitating greater partnership between central government agencies and disabled people.
• Developing the capacity of disabled people to contribute as employees and external experts on disability issues.
• Continuing to support regulatory change to remove barriers experienced by disabled people.
• Improving the regular supply of information that can be used to monitor changes in life outcomes of disabled people.
• Planning, with government agencies and disabled people, the review of progress after ten years to allow comparison of the 2001 post-census disability survey date with the 2011 survey.

Government work programme to implement the Review’s recommendations
The government has agreed to a work programme in response to these recommendations:
• The Office for Disability Issues (the Office) will facilitate the development of action plans for priority areas of implementation by government agencies.
• The Office will implement its plan for engaging with local government agencies and District Health Boards to enlist their support for implementing the Disability Strategy at a local level and to contribute to central government planning to achieve outcomes in priority areas.
• The Office will work with stakeholders to develop a common understanding of what is meant by partnership with disabled people in decision-making, and promote examples of successful partnerships in practice.
• The Office will remain active in promoting regulatory changes: in 2008/2009, particularly in the areas of building and housing (building code review) and in legislative changes to allow ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
• The Office will develop toolkits to support government implementation action. In 2008, a toolkit on making information accessible will be released. In addition, the Office will discuss with the State Services Commission other ways to improve government agencies’ disability responsiveness.
• The development of a new planning and reporting framework to make targets and achievements more transparent in priority areas, including long-term disability supports. It will encourage multi-agency, multi-year planning and reporting in key areas of the Disability Strategy.
• The Office has signalled to government agencies its intention to change the timing of the Disability Strategy planning and reporting cycle so that this better aligns with agencies’ planning processes; and has modified its planning and reporting templates to make it easier for agencies to report data.
• The Office will work with Statistics New Zealand and other stakeholders during 2008/2010 year to plan the 2011 post-census Disability Survey, and will include a comparison of the outcomes from the post-census Disability Surveys in 2011 and 2001 in its 2011/2012 work programme.


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