On July 1st, the Government will officially launch the New Ministry for Disabled People. This Ministry will be mostly led by people with a disability and plans to create a partnership between the disabled community and the Government as they help push the current shift in the disability system.
In my experience, the current disability system has been insufficient and has caused many obstacles for disabled people and their families who just want to live a regular life.
I’ve found support really tough to locate and connect to and encountered many transportation struggles such as communication and accessibility barriers in buses and trains which makes my community more difficult to navigate.
Opportunities for work, housing and transportation need to be accessible to everyone. I experienced first-hand many struggles finding a suitable job where disability wasn't a factor. I completed a communications degree but for three years I did not get a single interview. I listed Cerebral palsy on my c.v. and I’m sure most employers didn’t even take the time to read beyond that.
I hope this Ministry is active in promoting real inclusion and work to modify current systems. As one of the one in four people in New Zealand who live with a disability in New Zealand, I’m eager to see improvements.
Specifically, I want to see a simplification of eligibility criteria for different services. This is very important because many people - including myself - don't even understand what support services they are entitled to.
Former Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni said in a statement released in May 2021.
“The new Ministry will also lead and coordinate strategic disability policy across government and progress work on transforming the wider disability system, to enhance the mana, and improve the lives of disabled people. This will include influencing areas such as employment, education, health and wellbeing”.
Sepuloni has said she hopes this new Ministry will move to an approach where disability is viewed as “whole-of-life” than viewing disability as a ‘health issue”. Her vision to have the Ministry strongly led by people with life experiences and/ or living with a disability will enhance the new shift of thinking. They have personal connections and valuable insights that are an influential part of the transformation.
Sepuloni also stated
“The aim is to transform how disability support services are delivered by setting the foundations to more broadly apply the Enabling Good Lives principles based on the three current pilot sites. Disabled people will have more personalised services and opportunities to choose how they live a good life, such as control over how their personalised funding is used to meet their unique needs.”
True inclusion in New Zealand will see more support and awareness for the Disabled people of New Zealand boosted but it should also help shift the perceptions people have around disability. As a community, we need to hold the Ministry accountable and make sure our voice is heard. We need to share our opinions and have an open communication line to do so.
Bottom line: I am optimistic about what will happen going forward. Like many others, I just want to see positive change in all areas for the disabled community so we can have widespread opportunities that will lead to living an ordinary life, like everyone else.
To watch the live stream of the ministry launch go to AttitudeLive.com at 10 am on Friday 1st of July.