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Who Will Take up the Mantle of Access Champion?

Who in the Next Government Will Take up the Mantle of Access Champion?

With the current Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Tariana Turia retiring, community organisation CCS Disability Action questions who will be the next access champion in Government?

CCS Disability Action, Chief Executive, David Matthews said Hon Tariana Turia has done an excellent job supporting and advocating for access issues, including initiating a recent Access Review.

Mr. Matthews, however, questioned whether the next Government will be as committed to this work.

“The Access Review has just been completed and we have built up momentum to tackle the long-standing problems in access, particularly the weak legal framework. Without someone in Government to champion changes, I am afraid that momentum will be lost. There has been a lot of positive talk, but we need to start seeing the results.”

Mr. Matthews said his organisation had been advocating for disabled people to be able to access the community since 1935.

“For seventy nine years, we have been fighting for disabled people to get a fair go. We know that you need champions outside and within Government. Every day our staff around the country see a range of access issues as they support disabled people and their families to have a good life. Solutions are sometimes challenging, but this should not be a barrier to making our built environment work for everyone.”

Mr. Matthews emphasised that the stakes had never been higher.

“Our population is aging; there are now 1.1 million disabled New Zealanders. At the same time, a new generation of disabled people is coming through with high aspirations. They are, rightfully, asking for the same opportunities as everyone else, including the opportunity to work, live in the home setting of their choice and be able to access community facilities and services. Without good building access, those aspirations will be denied.”


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