Release: Commitment to disability communities missing from Govt priorities

Minister for Disability Issues Penny Simmonds appears to have delayed a report back to Cabinet on the progress New Zealand is making against international obligations for disabled New Zealanders.

“There seems to be a total lack of priority by this Government towards our disabled communities and their carers,” Labour Disability Issues spokesperson Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.

“New Zealand signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2008, and a Labour Government confirmed we would progress most of the Concluding Observations.

“Now it appears Minister Simmonds delayed a report to Cabinet on those international obligations – most likely because it isn’t a priority for her or this Government, given it wasn’t part of their 100-day plan, nor does it appear to be part of her ‘second quarter’ plan,” said Priyanca Radhakrishnan.

A report to the Social Development Minister from December, released under the OIA, has a section referring to New Zealand’s obligations under the UNCRPD.

It says “Cabinet previously invited the Minister for Disability Issues to report back on agencies’ implementation progress by December 2023. We understand this will be deferred.” It then goes on to say further advice would be provided around the UN committee’s observations in early 2024.

The same paper notes that Mahi Aroha: Carer’s Strategy Action Plan 2019-2023 expires on 31 December 2023, with no signs of an extension or continued support for carers.

“Successive governments have worked hard to improve outcomes for disabled people in New Zealand, ensuring societal change through the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach, by introducing flexible funding to support carers and by setting up Whaikaha: the Ministry for Disabled People.

“I continue to hear from many in the disability communities who feel incredibly let down and are anxious the Government will stop work that was underway to transform the disability support system in accordance with the EGL principles.

“Penny Simmonds and Nicola Willis must give certainty on where their priorities are and reinstate funding flexibility for those who access disability support funding. They need to show they care about disabled Kiwis by at the very least having a plan for their futures,” Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.

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