‘Ensuring an adequate standard of living for disabled people: empowerment and participation in society’ is a very important – and a very timely – theme for this, our 6th Conference of States Parties to the CRPD.
It’s important because, without an adequate standard of living, people will lack the resources to participate.
And it’s timely because of the current discussions around the post-2015 development agenda – discussions which New Zealand insists must be inclusive of persons with disabilities.
New Zealand also believes that helping to ensure that persons with disabilities are gainfully employed, or have their own profitable businesses, is one of the most important things a government can do to improve their standard of living.
And, to achieve that, we are taking a number of tangible steps:
Beyond those initiatives, Mr President, we are improving the data we collect on outcomes for disabled people, including the re-development of our Household Labour Force Survey to cover disability screening questions.
Statistics New Zealand has also made changes to this year’s post-census disability survey, the first data from which is due in mid-2014.
Persons with disabilities have been involved in the development of all these initiatives, and leadership is coming from the very highest level – a Ministerial Committee on Disability issues.
Mr President –
New Zealand is committed to involving persons with disabilities and their organisations in government decision making; and, in assessing their needs, it is committed to being a good listener.
Listening directly to disabled people tells us what is working, what is not working, and what still needs to be done to implement the Convention.
It's only when we have such information that we’ll know whether we are on track to achieving an adequate standard of living for persons with disabilities, and to achieving their full empowerment and participation in society.
The government has also funded the national Disabled People’s Organisations to have a role, in its own right, as an independent monitor, alongside our Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman, in assessing how well we are implementing the Disability Convention.
A Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues, which provides leadership and coordinates actions, on disability issues across the whole-of-government, meets annually with these independent monitors to discuss progress and to identify priorities for action; as does the Government’s Chief Executives Group on Disability Issues, which supports that Ministerial Committee.
This leadership from the highest levels of Government is resulting in increasing levels of collaboration between the Government and the disability sector, and particularly with Disabled Peoples Organisations