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Government Plan on Data Could Make Disabled People Invisible

2 November 2015
Government Plan on Data Could Make Disabled People Invisible

Government plans to reduce data collection about people with disabilities and their needs could lead to them missing out on fundamental services in the future, says community organisation CCS Disability Action.

Chief Executive, David Matthews, says the government has just announced it will cancel the 2018 Disability Survey, and move to a 10 year cycle of surveying disabled people. He says the cancelling of the 2018 Disability Survey may well lead to disabled people becoming invisible to central and regional government planners.

“The Disability Survey provides valuable information for government and the disability sector alike. It counts the number of people with disabilities and highlights what their needs are. We know that the disabled population is increasing, through age and also birth, but if we cannot regularly pinpoint where people live, what their needs are and how they can be supported, we will potentially create gaps and more inequality within New Zealand.”

Mr Matthews says with population growth in places like Auckland and the upper North Island, as well as the uneven impact of the aging population, it’s imperative planners have up-to-date data to make good decisions around access and transport. The Government also needs to understand the demands it already does, and could face in the future for education, health and welfare support.

The loss of the Disability Survey also jeopardises New Zealand’s ability to report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which it’s obliged to provide as a signatory.

Mr Matthews says the Government needs to come up with alternative ways to collect equivalent data.

“Questions could be included within the regularly reported Household Labour Force Survey and the General Social Survey. Additional questions around disability could also be included in the Census. Currently disability information from the Census is deemed by Statistics as too unreliable to release, which is in itself concerning.”

“Clear, transparent information which is readily available helps build a platform for future planning. Why this specific group of New Zealander is being marginalized is beyond me. With disability rates increasing now is not the time to reduce investment in information, but the time to think ahead.”

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