Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 7
Disability Issues : Would you create a Ministry for Disability?
Question : Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to de-medicalising disability support services by shifting them to a new Ministry for Disability Issues which has a minister in cabinet and a chief executive who is committed to the social model of disability and, preferably, has lived experience of disability?
Submitted by : Hilary Stace, Wellington
Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog. This started Tuesday 10th September, and continues till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.
LABOUR LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES’ ANSWERS
Answer from Shane Jones
I will not be supportive in establishing a new Disability Ministry.
I realise how important the disability issues are across society.
The building code is an area where further work needs to be done.
It is important we keep a strong degree of visibility on these issues in our future Cabinet.
Answer from Grant Robertson
I will do everything possible to ensure that this is a country where disabled people have meaningful lives within their communities based on respect and equality, where disabled people have their diversity recognised and rights protected.
An important part of that is making sure that those with disabilities have a strong voice in Government. I would be prepared to look at a new structure for providing disability policy and support services, but I am wary of creating new bureaucratic structures.
One of the issues we urgently need to address is the squeeze on funding for front-line services for Austism which has happened under this Government.
Included in that is a review of the definition of disability that dictates the eligibility for government support – which currently excludes people with autism.
Answer from David Cunliffe
It is important that we support those with a disability to follow their aspirations, to make choices, and lead a quality life.
Those with a disability should be recognised as individuals, with their own set of needs and aspirations.
Our approach is based on the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
I support having a Minister for Disability Issues.
However, there is still a long way to go before all disabled people are living in a fully inclusive society that values them and enhances their position.
I am supportive of improved public education and information sharing so that wider public better understands disability issues so that people with disabilities can truly participate in a fairer, more inclusive society with more independence.