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End of institutionalisation milestone for families

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health
Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Disability Issues


14 November 2006 Media Statement

End of institutionalisation a milestone for NZ families

The goal of an ordinary life for disabled New Zealanders has taken an historic step forward with the closure of the last institution for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, Health Minister Pete Hodgson and Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

Last month's closure of Levin's Kimberley Centre marked the conclusion of the nearly four decade-long process of deinstitutionalisation.

The milestone was marked with a major celebration at Parliament today. Former residents of the 13 institutions for people with physical or intellectual disabilities were among the several hundred New Zealanders who participated in today's celebration.

"The end of institutionalisation is a milestone for disabled New Zealanders and their families," Pete Hodgson said. "It is also a significant milestone for wider New Zealand society and a mark of our maturity and progress as a nation.

"For too long, the challenges presented by disabilities were used as excuses for exclusion. What we have shown over the last few decades is that disabled people can and do make valuable contributions to our communities."

Ruth Dyson said that while the process of deinstitutionalisation has been a challenge, its completion is a major victory for the community.

"The New Zealand Disability Strategy focuses on giving people an ordinary life, like every New Zealander is entitled to," Ruth Dyson said. "The deinstitutionalisation process was about ensuring people with intellectual and physical disabilities can live in the community and do day-to-day things most of us take for granted.

"Former residents of institutions have gone on to full time employment, attended polytechnics and are participating in community and family life. There was a lot to learn along the way and certainly the process has not been without error, but today we have a much greater understanding of how to support people with disabilities to live in their communities."


ENDS

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