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Join the Conversation

CCS Disability Action Team Leader Sue Sherrard explains why she thinks this year’s consultation on the New Zealand’s Disability Action Strategy is worthwhile.

As many of you may know the New Zealand Disability Strategy (NZDS) of 2001 is currently being reviewed.  This needs to be seen as an opportunity for disabled people and whānau to put forward our ideas and opinions.

I also know the many of the cynics amongst us will be asking: “What’s the point?” I understand that.  When the NZDS was released many of us were hopeful that is was going to make a positive difference in our lives. We genuinely believed we would experience benefits from the document. I could be wrong, but I don’t think anyone thought a fully inclusive society was ever a realistic direct outcome – but it was and continues to be a great vision.

Unfortunately the practical benefits we hoped for following the release of NZDS haven’t occurred. Poverty rates amongst disabled people have increased, employment rates haven’t and housing, health, education and justice continue to have huge barriers for us. The Social Services Select Committee back in 2008 noted that the government had not implemented the Disability Strategy effectively.  I know many disabled people and our families are tired of fighting.  We keep saying the same things and changes are slow in coming.  Some would say we are going backwards.

In my view that is exactly why we need to make submissions (again). We need to make use of these opportunities and galvanise to action, even if that action is putting a few words in a submission.  The risk of our cynicism and apathy is the loss of these opportunities and then no one will listen and we’ve lost.

We had to fight to be recognised as a group and now we have our Human Rights guaranteed, but let’s not let go of any opportunity to tell the government our views and opinions. I encourage you to tell them what your life is like or how you would like it to be. Tell them how you want support to be provided. Tell them where changes should be made.  Highlight the barriers you experience.

Please don’t give up. Be part of the conversation.

If you’d like to learn more about the NZDS, the Office for Disability Issues has put together the Join the Conversation website. There’s a video explaining the process, a full list of events across the country and the opportunity to feedback.

4 Responses to “Join the Conversation”

  1. Phillip Blundell says:

    Sue, you are right. If we just sit around either complaining or doing nothing we will never create change. I attended ODI Strategy review at Te Papa. There was about 80 or so attending. The Blind were well represented as were a couple of other sector gps. CCS DA had a staff and governance rep in attendance.

    David Matthew’s in on the Strategic Review team. But if we want to make an impact we need to be having a say. We always say we have 5,000 members – what a voice this would be if they all went on line and completed the survey/questionnaire. Or is everyone happy with their lot and happy with the staus quo.

    CCS DA need to be highlighting this opportunity.

  2. Sue Sherrard says:

    Thanks for your support Phillip, and I totally agree. Given this round of submissions close tomorrow we may be a bit late. But we will have another opportunity later in the year – and CCS Disability Action will again look to encourage input on the strategy review. Nothing about us without us!

  3. Allyson says:

    I attended the Join the Conversation meeting in Auckland,
    and really enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to the
    revised disability strategy. everyone said we wanted the
    new one to have teeth.

  4. Sue Sherrard says:

    Thanks Allyson, I agree. Its going to be interesting to see what comes back to us for comment following the submission process. Personally I think the teeth need to take the form of legislation and updating some of our old Acts, like the Building Act, to really make progress. Let’s see how far we can push it!

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