The Disabled Person Assembly (DPA) NZ welcomes today’s announcement of the establishment of a new Ministry for Disabled People and the national implementation of the Enabling Good Lives approach.

“This has been a long time coming. Disabled people have been calling for our own Ministry for decades, most recently in reaction to the Health and Disability System review,” DPA Chief Executive Prudence Walker says.

“The announcement that there is finally going to be a Ministry for Disabled People brings hope that the needs of disabled people will be no longer be side-lined.

“Currently disabled people’s social and well-being status is demonstrably worse than their non-disabled peers across: income, educational achievement, health and social participation indicators.

“For this to be successful, disabled leadership is fundamental and this needs to be from the very outset – not just something that happens in a prescribed way after the design of a proposal.

“It also needs to be properly resourced.

“We welcome the commitment to implementing the Enabling Good Lives approach to Disability Support Services on a national scale.

Disabled people have put a significant amount of time, effort and expertise into designing a transformed disability support system. Trials in Waikato, Christchurch and the MidCentral region have shown that support can be completely different for disabled people.

“However, a key factor in how successful this is will again depend on resourcing. We know from the regional trials that it is essential that this new approach is properly budgeted for for it to work,” Ms Walker says.

“Today’s announcement is the beginning of something new and we’d like to acknowledge of all those in our community whose hard work and dedication has led to where we are today.”

However, the new measures to improve accessibility announced today are extremely disappointing and do not go far enough needed to create an accessible Aotearoa, Ms Walker says.

The Accessibility Governance Board falls well short of what DPA has been calling for through the Access Alliance – which is the establishment of an independent Accessibility entity with the ability to set, update and enforce accessibility standards.

“We know that enforceability is an essential tool for progressing accessibility and without that we will only see small tweaks rather than the transformative change that is needed,” Ms Walker says.

“We will continue to call for an independent accessibility entity along the lines of what the recently released Law Commission report proposes.”