Opening of the new CCS building in Hawera
I am delighted to be here with you this afternoon in Hawera to open CCS Disability Action’s new site. A warm welcome to everyone here this afternoon.
I would like to acknowledge the TSB Community Trust and the many generous donors that made this all possible. I would also like to acknowledge Mayors Ross Dunlop and Neil Volzke, the local Iwi and my colleague Chester Burrows.
Community organisations like CCS Disability Action have a fundamental role to play in empowering disabled people, their families and whānau to have a voice in their local communities.
As you know, CCS Disability Action has been operating for over 80 years. That is an outstanding achievement and is a testament to the fantastic work you do here.
I am confident that CCS Disability Action Hawera in their new home will continue to enable disabled people in Central and South Taranaki to have more choice and control over the decisions that affect their lives. In particular, those who are based in smaller communities and the regions.
Since I took on the role of Minister for Disability Issues almost two years ago, I have had the privilege of speaking directly to disabled people in communities throughout New Zealand about the matters that are most important to them.
Meeting disabled people face-to-face has helped me to better understand and appreciate the ambitions of disabled people and the challenges they face.
You will be familiar with these opportunities and challenges. One theme that consistently emerges is around choice and employment.
That is why two of my top priorities have been getting more disabled people into employment and Enabling Good Lives.
One of the Government’s employment initiatives that I am really passionate about is the Christchurch Employment Trial known as Project 300.
The goal of Project 300, launched in April last year, was to get 300 disabled people and people with health conditions, who are currently on a benefit, into sustainable work over a 12-month period.
What has been different about Project 300 is that we wanted to ensure it met the needs of employers since they are, critical to providing disabled people with the opportunity to get into the workforce.
Project 300’s progress to 10 March 2016 included:
155 employers involved
252 disabled people supported into full-time employment
61 disabled people supported into part-time jobs
10 disabled people supported into full-time study.
Many of you will be familiar with Enabling Good Lives.
The Enabling Good Lives (EGL) approach sets out a vision and principles to ensure disabled people have greater choice and control over their supports and lives, and can make better use of natural and universally available supports.
I know that this aligns with what CCS stands for, and how you work with disabled people to empower them to live a good life.
EGL participants plan what a good life looks like for them, with the choice of support from a navigator or connector.
Evidence from the Christchurch and Waikato demonstrations will be used to inform the development of advice on the transformation of the disability support system in New Zealand.
Finally, I would like to say a few words about the revision of the New Zealand Disability Strategy.
The revised Strategy will help us take a long-term approach to improving access for disabled people, and addressing the issues disabled people consider important. That is why we need to make sure that it is future-focused and that the widest possible group of New Zealanders have their say.
A Reference Group has been established to support the consultation process and the development of a new Strategy.
The members bring expertise and leadership in working within the disability sector, providing strategic advice, building connections between the government and the community sector, and skill in collaborative approaches. David Matthews, your Chief Executive, in on this Group.
Public engagement and consultation, led by the Office for Disability Issues, has begun. We want to promote participation in the conversation about the Strategy among the widest possible group of New Zealanders, focusing on disabled people, their families/whānau, allies and the disability sector more broadly.
You can find more information at jointheconversation.nz. On the website, you can contribute your ideas on the revision of the Strategy in a variety of ways, including:
workshops around New Zealand
record a video
I am strongly encouraging you here in Hawera to let us know what you think is important to include in the revised Strategy.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak here at Hawera. I wish you the very best for the future and look forward to seeing you continue doing excellent work for the community here.