In front of an excited and intrigued gathering at the Sudima Hotel in Auckland, we launched the Access Matters campaign one year ago today! Take a look back—and a look forward—below.
This year has been a hive of future-focused, energising and hopeful activity for the Access Matters campaign. I’m writing to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of it. I also want to pause with you for a moment to reflect on the past 12 months and take a look forward into the next phase of the campaign.
This email is a little longer than usual, but I hope you’ll take the time to take a deeper dive behind the scenes with me.
I remember the Friday before Monday’s Access Matters official launch on February 27, 2017. That Friday, the office was alive with barely-organised chaos. The printer broke down, Auckland’s humidity levels were having a field day, and you could practically smell the trepidation. The excess stress must have evaporated over the weekend because the launch itself flowed seamlessly. Finally, we could share and celebrate our united call for a robust legal foundation for accessibility in Aotearoa. It was a historic moment as disability service providers, advocacy organisations and disabled people’s organisations united to create the Access Alliance and strengthen our shared vision.
After the launch, we got down to business. Dozens of us, from grassroots campaigners to Access Alliance executives, held face-to-face meetings with MPs from across the political spectrum. We knew exactly what we wanted: a commitment from their party to agree to introduce robust and enforceable accessibility law if they got into government. For me, there was one key takeaway from those conversations - almost all of those MPs resonated with our shared vision. It was unfortunate that they had limited scope to influence their party’s positions, in some cases.
However, there was still cause to celebrate. The Labour Party, the Green Party, the Māori Party and New Zealand First, all committed to looking at legislative options to improve accessibility in New Zealand.
After Winston Peters informed the world which parties would be governing, we set about working with our new political leaders to hold them to account on our joint call. To begin that process, a team from the Access Alliance met with our new Minister for Disability Issues Hon. Carmel Sepuloni. Here’s a photo of the beautiful box full of your names that Áine delivered to her. Together, we’ve shown Minister Sepuloni that we stand strong by our call for accessibility law and we will be watching closely to ensure the government is on track to pass an Accessibility Act within their current term.
While Minister Sepuloni and her officials are deliberating, it’s up to us to set our own timeline, and we’re doing just that. The next six months of that timeline are all about building a broad base of public support to make sure New Zealand is as accessible as possible. Soon, we’ll be rolling out an exciting new feature on our website where you’ll be able to get creative and tell the world why Access Matters to you. You’ll be able to write your stories about access barriers and great examples of accessibility in action, snap a photo to go along with them, video and upload a vlog, and more. We’ll regularly be featuring a selection of these on our Facebook page and other social media channels. To boost our people power, we’ll also be adding a new campaigner to our small team of campaign staff within the next two weeks.
These are exciting times. Thank you once again for being part of the journey so far and we hope you’re as fired up as we are about staying on board!
Project Manager for the Access Alliance