Disabled are citizens too

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According to the Human Rights Commission, almost 1 in 4 New Zealanders are currently living with a disability.

“A total of 1.1 million people (24 percent of the population) were identified as disabled. The results show that 11 percent of children and 27 percent of adults were limited in their daily activities by a range of impairments.”

This study shows just how important it is for New Zealanders to work towards a more accepting and inclusive society. For a quarter of New Zealanders to be limited in their daily activities shows the lengths we still need to go to in order to improve this situation.

While the current government is trying to kick disability access out of the equation in order to strengthen buildings for earthquakes, this is just the statistic we need to illustrate just how detrimental the effects of that would be. The study did show that the majority of the people with disabilities are over the age of 65, which also shows that limited access is an aspect of ageism as well as ableism.

It’s easy to look at this as just a number but it is important to note that for these people with disabilities, this isn’t just a statistic. These limitations are our daily reality and the frustration cuts deep.

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In saying that though, I think that these statistics speak for themselves and it is an important piece of information for New Zealanders to be aware of. I do believe that the majority of us don’t want to live in a country where 1 out of 4 Kiwis have to live their lives with limitations.

3 COMMENTS

  1. “Quote: “For a quarter of New Zealanders to be limited in their daily activities shows the lengths we still need to go to in order to improve this situation.”

    Yes, this is absolutely right. Problems with physical access is though just one issue to be very concerned about, the greater picture needs to be presented, as there are many forms of disability, both various physical forms, but also mental and psychological forms of disability.

    The graph on the website of the Human Rights Commission does show this:
    http://www.hrc.co.nz/2014/06/17/almost-one-in-four-new-zealanders-were-identified-as-disabled-in-2013/

    New Zealand is as a country and society of course doing something to help disabled, and as representative government of a UN member state, it signed (under the last Labour led government) the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons:
    http://www.odi.govt.nz/what-we-do/un-convention/

    The Convention was signed by New Zealand and many member states on 30 March 2007:
    http://www.odi.govt.nz/what-we-do/un-convention/un-convention-history.html

    Since then only small progress has been made, and at times I ask, has the spirit and text of the Convention actually been understood by the National led governments, and been sincerely adopted, let alone the proposed measures been properly introduced and implemented.

    There have been issues with access to buildings not having been given the consideration needed for the reconstruction in Christchurch, there have been other issues raised, like the closure of certain special needs schools, the funding of certain services supporting disabled, and so forth, where New Zealand seems to fail on it’s made commitments.

    With the draconian welfare reforms brought in under this government mid last year (2013), we have had the government rather listen to self proclaimed “experts” from the UK, who conducted “research” that was SPONSORED by a insurance corporation (UNUM) that was convicted in a number of US states for breaking the law by denying claimants justified payouts, using flawed assessments.

    So we now have Work and Income follow the controversial, failed UK approach to “assist”, and at least in some cases pressure, sick and disabled into work, as it is meant to be “therapeutic”. In the UK some, especially mentally ill, harmed themselves and worse, not being able to cope with unreasonable expectations.

    At the same time NO significant expectations are placed on employers to offer disabled suitable jobs on a fair playing level, or to even invest in adjusting work-places and train staff to work with disabled. There are NO expectations placed on members of our society as a whole, to better understand, respect and treat disabled fellow citizens and workers. Some do, but many do not, and prejudice prevails in wide parts of the public.

    Some stuff to ponder on re where the journey is going with WINZ and so under this government is here:

    ‘WORK ABILITY ASSESSMENTS DONE FOR WORK AND INCOME – PARTLY FOLLOWING ACC’s APPROACH: A REVEALING FACT STUDY’

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/16092-work-ability-assessments-done-for-work-and-income-%E2%80%93-partly-following-acc%E2%80%99s-approach-a-revealing-fact-study/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15463-designated-doctors-%e2%80%93-used-by-work-and-income-some-also-used-by-acc/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/

    Also try to search (Google or else): ‘nzsocialjusticeblog2013’ for information.

    Having a Mansel Aylward go on about “illness belief” or “malingering” being the problem, and MSD’s and WINZ’s Principal Health Advisor Dr Bratt claim that benefit dependence can be likened to “drug dependence”, that does certainly not empower and help sick and disabled.

    Bring in a fair, respectful, reasonable approach, please, and disabled may actually develop some trust and work with government agencies and their “service providers”, and then achieve outcomes!

    Hold employers and society as a whole to account, as governments will only spend money and resources, when the stake holders are prepared to support it. First of all awareness must be raised, information be put out, people must be informed, advised and given a voice as informed members of society, but we are light years away from such a scenario!

    • Excellent post. Your concerns about Aylward, and the insurer-funded University Department that provides a veneer of legitimacy to his “research” are well-founded, as are his close links to the people within MSD planning to shift the costs of disability back to the victims and their families. One difference between the UK regime, where over 60% of people shafted by the Aylward-orchestrated medical assessment regime successfully appeal against their shafting, and NZ’s is that the UK still has genuine access to justice, all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which regularly overturns the UK Courts on fundamental human rights issues. NZ has no equivalent mechanism, just ranks of National Party supporters within the judiciary.

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