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New Zealand: Disability Rights Commissioner welcomes new ministry and accessibility legislation

Graphic: NZ Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero

Disability Rights Commissioner says the announcement signals a significant move in the visibility and leadership of disabled people in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s Disability Rights Commissioner, Paula Tesoriero, is strongly supportive of the New Zealand Government’s announcement of a new Ministry for Disabled People from 1 July 2022 and of the establishment of a framework for improving accessibility for disabled people. 

“The language used in the government’s announcement indicates a strong commitment to nothing about us without us – an important principle for the disabled community,” said Ms Tesoriero.

She said that the announcement signals a significant move in the visibility and leadership of disabled people and the way the current barriers disabled people face will be addressed in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

“It’s pleasing to see an explicit commitment to working closely with the disabled community to establish the Ministry. This is an aspect I will be closely monitoring. This Ministry won’t succeed without disabled peoples’ leadership - and disabled people as employees and decision-makers during the transition and in its on-going development.

“It’s also important, that other government agencies don’t decrease any focus on disabled people,” she said.

Ms Tesoriero believes a smooth transition of Disability Support Services (DSS) to the new entity without disruption for New Zealand’s over 40,000 disabled people is also vital, and the move must not reduce the critical focus needed in the broader health reforms to better respond to disabled people.

“This Ministry, in conjunction with the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill also announced, presents a real chance to advance the rights of disabled people. The bill includes a suite of monitoring mechanisms that are essential to finally gathering aggregated data about our lives and to benchmark progress to remove barriers and reduce inequity.”

“Today’s announcements mark a new era for us – I’m optimistic about the platform for change these announcements create.”

Date: 29 October 2021

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission

Image credits

  1. NZ Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero - New Zealand Human Rights Commission