Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is delighted by today’s announcement of transformational changes to the Disability System, namely the establishment of a Ministry for Disabled People, the nationwide implementation of the Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach, the introduction of the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill, and the establishment of an Accessibility Governance Board.
Pouārahi Helen Leahy says that these changes are truly groundbreaking, the culmination of more than a decade’s work by disability advocacy groups. “These groups have worked tirelessly to be heard, and to create meaningful change to the disability system,” says Ms Leahy. “We celebrate with them today, as their achievements will allow the disabled community to have a say in the services and support they receive.”
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is proud to support a number of disability initiatives include Hei Whakapiki Mauri and Whānau Whanake in Ōtautahi, Pōtiki Poi in Ōtepoti and Koha Kai in Waihōpai. “There has always been a strong link between Whānau Ora and Enabling Good Lives,” says Ms Leahy. “Both were introduced by Dame Tariana Turia, and both focus on the strengths, rather than the deficits, of the communities they serve. It is all about self-determination at the core.”
Ms Leahy is a member of the Machinery of Government working group that has been advising on the cross-government changes needed to progress the rights and opportunities of disabled people, serving alongside disability advocates such as Ruth Jones and Cate Grace, both of whom are members of the Whānau Ora network.
“It is simply amazing that we are finally reaching a place where the system can begin to meet the needs of our community,” says Ms Jones, kaiwhakahaere of Hei Whakapiki Mauri, a group that supports the mauri of disabled Māori and their whānau. “Our voice has been heard, and from now on we will be able to influence decision-making and accessibility legislation that will directly impact our lives.”
Cate Grace, kaiwhakahaere of Whānau Whanake, agrees wholehearatedly, saying: “Today’s announcement honours the people who have gone before us – not just our tūpuna, but those who began this mahi and would be so proud to see it achieved. I am incredibly excited to be part of this time and space when we can effect real change for future generations.”
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu and the wider Whānau Ora network are committed to working with the new Ministry for Disabled People to achieve aspirations of self-determination and work towards becoming a non-disabling society.