Our campaign has reached a milestone today with an announcement from the Minister for Disability Issues, Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, in Parliament this afternoon.
The Minister announced during question time that “Cabinet has approved a work programme to thoroughly explore how we can achieve full accessibility for disabled people and all New Zealanders”.
This is a vital step for the campaign and reflects the hard work and support of campaign advocates and supporters around the country. It couldn’t have happened without you!
In her media release, the Minister acknowledged the campaign saying “Earlier this year I was presented with a petition to put accessibility into a legislative form by the Access Alliance. Accessibility is enforced in law in some other countries, transforming the lives of disabled people and its time that we explored the feasibility of legislation in New Zealand".
Chrissie Cowan, CEO of Kāpō Māori Aotearoa and Chair of the Access Alliance has thanked the Minister saying: “On behalf of the Access Alliance, we applaud the government on this decision, and thank Minister Sepuloni for listening to New Zealanders with disabilities and taking action.
You can read the full media release on the Beehive website here: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/government-signs-major-accessibility-work-programme
You can watch a video of the announcement in Parliament here:
Below is a transcription of the video:
Greg O'Connor: Why is accessibility important?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Issues around accessibility affect us all. There are currently an estimated 1.1 million disabled people in New Zealand. Moreover, accessibility is not purely a disability issue. It also affects groups such as seniors, carers of young children, and those for whom English is a second language. Having limited opportunities to participate can lead to isolation, poor educational and employment outcomes, and preventable health issues. Accessibility is intimately linked to participation and well-being, and that's why this Government is taking the issue seriously.
Greg O'Connor: What other steps has she taken to improve accessibility in New Zealand?
Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: On Monday, Cabinet approved a work programme to explore how we can achieve full accessibility for all New Zealanders. The work programme will involve collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders, including disability groups, businesses, and families. It will look at how to define full accessibility, the challenges and opportunities of different approaches, and whether legislation is needed for mandatory codes and standards for accessibility. This is a vital step in the right direction for all New Zealanders experiencing barriers to participation, and we are proud, as a Government, to be getting on and doing this important work.