Ministry Statements & Speeches:
As we seek to address the compounding impacts of climate change, COVID-19, and conflicts around the world, we are conscious of the disproportionate impacts these crises have on persons with disabilities, as well as the critical need to amplify the voices of persons with disabilities if we are to build back better.
Aotearoa New Zealand has a strong history of protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. On 1 July, New Zealand will establish our first Ministry for Disabled People to lead the national rollout of funding and support for persons with disabilities in New Zealand. There is real evidence that giving persons with disabilities choice and control over funding, services, and support creates greater opportunities for their participation and inclusion.
Persons with disabilities must experience meaningful inclusion and participation in all areas of community life, including education, work, civil society, cultural and sporting events. The new Ministry will have the mandate to work across government and alongside persons with disabilities and their families to achieve this goal.
Full participation and inclusion also requires identifying and removing accessibility barriers. Buildings, open spaces, transport systems, information, policy, and services that do not meet universal design standards obstruct inclusion. Later this year, the New Zealand government will introduce legislation to address accessibility barriers, including monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements, and expectations for engaging persons with disabiliites.
New Zealand is also working with our partners in the Pacific to address the challenges that persons with disabilties face in our region, including in relation to climate change. The disability community must be empowered to participate in humanitarian response efforts.
At the global level, New Zealand will continue to champion disability rights, and support efforts to remove barriers to inclusion. As co-chair of the Group of Friends of Persons with Disabilities, we have a strong focus on driving collective action to advance the full participation and empowerment of persons with disabilities including in times of crisis. Support for the implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy is also critical.
We continue to recognise and support the important role that human rights defenders, civil society organisations, NGOs, and multilateral partners play in advancing inclusive participation.