In what is being called a milestone day for the nation, the Government has launched Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Ministry of Disabled People – the first to have a NZ Sign Language name, as well as Te Reo Māori and English names.
It comes as Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority also officially take effect.
“Today marks a new chapter for approximately 1.1 million disabled people in Aotearoa New Zealand, and is a significant step toward realising true partnership between Government and disabled people, tāngata whaikaha, their whānau, carers and supporters,” said Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni and Minister for Disability Issues, Poto Williams.
“Last year we announced a suite of changes for disabled people as part of our Health and Disability System reforms. Today we take the next steps in our disability system transformation journey,” Ms Sepuloni said.
“Budget 2022 underlined the Government’s commitment to delivering bold and transformational change for the disability community with over $1 billion of new funding for the sector.
“The disabled community has waited decades for this moment. That’s why work will continue to ensure the new Ministry has the time to get its people and systems established so that it’s well placed to get the transformation right.”
She said the Establishment Unit, Governance Group, Community Steering Group and officials had been making rapid and pragmatic decisions, informed by community consultation, to stand up the new Ministry on time.
“As the outgoing Minister for Disability Issues, I want to extend my thanks to everyone for the contributions made. The changes being shepherded through are a reflection of hard work and advocacy from across the sector,” Ms Sepuloni said.
As the incoming Minister for Disability Issues, Poto Williams said she was looking forward to the exciting new chapter on the road to transforming Aotearoa into a non-disabling society.
“In the spirit of ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’, the new Ministry will start the ball rolling with ensuring the Ministry’s culture and values are mana-enhancing, the governance and partnership arrangements are meaningful, and the mechanisms that will give effect to disabled peoples voices are enduring,” said Minister Williams.
“The Ministry will lead and coordinate disability policy across government, including improving outcomes for disabled people in areas such as employment, education, health and wellbeing.
“Having worked across the community, voluntary and social services sectors, including in residential disability services, I’m looking forward to engaging with the disability community to achieve better outcomes for our disabled people.
“Today is another step on the journey toward creating a more inclusive society. It’s a journey which must include all New Zealanders in order to grow awareness and recognise disabled peoples’ potential, and the Government is committed to the part we must play along that journey,” she said.