This update from the Minister for Disability Issues comes from the Office of Disability Issues latest newsletter.

It’s been six months since I became the Minister for Disability Issues and contributed to my last ODI newsletter. It has been a very busy time indeed. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of you, to listen and understand more about the issues facing disabled people.

In March, we received our “List of Issues” from the UN with 100 questions to assess how we’re doing on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I have welcomed the CRPD Review as a valuable opportunity to gain external feedback, make international comparisons and to seek feedback from our disability community, through public consultation on our response to the Committee later this year.

Our Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) contributed to the UN’s List of Issues by highlighting six key areas that they consider to be the most pressing for disabled people in New Zealand right now. It’s a priority for me to advocate for real progress in these six areas, which are:

  • Data
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Seclusion and Restraint
  • Access to information and communication
  • Housing.

These six key areas will lay the groundwork for the updated Disability Action Plan. This will be released next year as a four-year plan for implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy. The updated Plan will set out the key actions that government will take to continue improving the lives of disabled people, and include incomplete actions from the current 2014–2018 plan as well as some new ideas.

The recent announcement that the transformation of the Disability Support System will roll-out in the mid-central region from 1 October 2018 has been met with a lot of excitement, as well as a lot of questions. This is a huge programme of work, co-designed with disabled people, with a ’try, learn and adjust’ approach. We will look very closely at its evaluation before announcing the shape and form of further roll-outs in other regions.

A final note on New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week and the Awards that has just been. I have been encouraged and inspired by the great work and passion of the winners, attendees and organisers at the Awards, and of many people throughout the week. I realise we have a long way to go in elevating NZSL to the status it deserves, as an official language of New Zealand.

As Minister for Disability Issues, I will do everything I can to influence and support improvements in the accessibility of information coming from the government. Our Prime Minister has led the way by ensuring that there will be sign language interpreters at all post-Cabinet media briefings. The recent introduction of NZSL at Parliamentary question time is another welcome move towards greater accessibility and inclusion.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at ODI for the work they are doing. The passion and commitment you have for addressing disability issues in New Zealand is clear in the work you do, and it’s great to know I have such a hard-working team supporting me. I would also like to acknowledge everyone who is working in the disability sector. Working together, we are making great strides toward a more inclusive and accessible New Zealand and I thank you for your ongoing hard work and dedication.

Best wishes
Hon Carmel Sepuloni

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