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Access Alliance welcomes Disability Minister’s commitment

Access Alliance welcomes Disability Minister’s commitment to improving access to work.

The Access Alliance welcomes Disability Minister Carmel Sepuloni’s commitment to increasing access for New Zealanders with a disability.

The Minister was responding to a discussion paper from the Maxim Institute that more needs to be done to remove the barriers for people with disability gaining meaningful employment*.

Access Alliance spokesperson Dianne Rogers said, “It is pleasing to see Minister Sepuloni acknowledge that earning a living and having a good life are things that should be obtainable for all New Zealanders.”

The Access Alliance is advocating for a comprehensive Accessibility Act that legislates minimum enforceable standards as part of their Access Matters Campaign.

The Labour Party made pre-election commitments to introduce enforceable and mandatory accessibility standards with a view to passing the Accessibility for New Zealanders Act into law.

“New Zealand needs a law that breaks down the barriers that the one in four Kiwis who have a disability face every day. Accessibility legislation is an essential step towards making access real, lifting people with disabilities out of poverty, and letting everyone reach their full potential. We look forward to starting with the government to create Accessibility Legislation urgently” said Ms Rogers.

“There are 14,000 New Zealanders with disabilities who are ready and able to work, yet struggle to gain employment. An Accessibility Act would enforce minimum standards which would make sure that jobs and workplaces are accessible, opening the door to disabled Kiwis having the same opportunities and choices as everyone else,” said Ms Rogers.

“Minimum standards for access to things like buildings and transport, as well as information and services, are crucial in allowing Kiwi’s with disabilities into the workforce and to fully take part in society," said Ms Rogers.

Ms Rogers says the legislation will help businesses and organisations know what they need to do to enable people with disabilities to access their services, buildings, and products.

A national poll conducted by UMR commissioned by the Access Alliance in September showed the vast majority of New Zealanders want action on improving accessibility for people with disabilities**.

In February the Alliance released a report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research “Valuing Access to Work”. The report highlighted the economic and social benefits of removing barriers to employment for the largest group of under-employed and unemployed New Zealanders***.

“When we remove barriers to access communities and businesses gain the skills, creativity, and inventiveness of all members of society,” Ms Rogers said.

*The Maxim Institute Discussion Document is available here: https://www.maxim.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Acknowledging-Ability-Paper.pdf

**The UMR Poll which showed that 80% of respondents support minimum standards for access is available here: http://www.accessalliance.org.nz/umr_polling

***The NZIER Report “Valuing Access to Work” estimates that improving workforce participation for disabled people will add $1.45 billion per year to GDP and reduce annual costs to Government by $270 million. It is available here: http://www.accessalliance.org.nz/resources

ENDS

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