Participate disability newsletter, no 22

  • Ruth Dyson
Disability Issues

Participate Newsletter
No 22, September 2005

From the Minister

With the election only a week away, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting me as New Zealand’s first Minister for Disability Issues over the last six years. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and learn from so many of you, and to act as your advocate around the Cabinet table.

I am proud of what our Labour-led government has achieved for disabled people. Significant milestones since 2002 include:
·setting up the Office for Disability Issues;
·introduction of the NZ Relay telephone service for people who are deaf or have hearing or speech impairments,
·introduction of legislation to make New Zealand Sign Language an official language;
·expanded employment services as part of Pathways to Inclusion; and
·continued implementation of the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

Progress continues in many areas, as shown by this issue of Participate, which reports on initiatives such as the 100 per cent increase in government funding for the Total Mobility subsidised taxi scheme, extension of MSD’s employment support funds to state sector agencies, and moves to prevent the unnecessary re-assessment of people for the disability allowance.

Together, I believe we are making a difference, and that New Zealand is becoming a more inclusive society, thanks to our collective efforts.
Hon Ruth Dyson

Policy updates

NZ Sign Language Bill report tabled

The Justice and Electoral Select Committee tabled its report of the New Zealand Sign Language Bill in July 2005. Their main recommendation was to propose a new clause to review the legislation after three years.

Parliament will consider the report and agree to any changes after the election. I will let the Deaf community know when the bill will be read for a second time.

Look online:
Purchase your copy of the Bill from Bennetts bookshops, or online:

Transport safety and access to improve

The conclusion of the third reading of the Land Transport Amendment Bill is set to make our transport system safer and more accessible for many New Zealanders.

The main points of the legislation include:
·It is now illegal for those with convictions for serious sexual or violent offences to hold passenger endorsements. (Convicted rapists and murderers are barred from driving taxis.)
·Taxis will now have to display their cab number and company information in Braille. This new provision will come into force when a new Operator Licensing Rule is introduced.
·Care workers are specifically exempted from requiring passenger endorsements.
·Rules allowing operators of courtesy transport services to continue to do so have been clarified.
·Rules applying to small electrically power vehicles, such as mobility scooters, have been clarified.

More detailed information is available at:
Employment progress continues

The Disabled Persons Employment Promotion (Repeal and Related Matters) Bill will now have its second reading after the election. I am pleased with the progress being made by providers, supported by Department of Labour and Ministry of Social Development officials, as we move towards more equitable employment opportunities for disabled people.

For more information about employment relations and minimum wage exemptions, visit:
or freephone 0800 800 863.

Kimberley residents resettled

More than 150 people are expected to have left Kimberley by Christmas. A huge effort is going into ensuring that homes being modified or purpose-built are ready and handed over to the new residential service providers by May 2006. Most of the people shifting into established community homes have already left the centre. I will keep you informed of progress.

NZ at forefront of UN Convention

New Zealand once again played a leading role in the latest negotiations on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People in August.

Don MacKay, former New Zealand ambassador to the UN, chaired the negotiations. The New Zealand delegation was made up of officials from the Office for Disability Issues and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Human Rights Commissioner Robyn Hunt, and DPA representatives Mike Gourley and Gary Williams.

More information at:

New chair for Disability Advisory Council

DPA’s president Mike Gourley has been appointed the new chairperson of the Disability Advisory Council set up to advise the Office for Disability Issues and provide feedback on implementation of the NZ Disability Strategy. The council next meets on 7-8 November 2005.

For more information, go to

New Initiatives

Total Mobility funding doubled

The government has approved a $9.49 million funding increase for the Total Mobility scheme, doubling the scheme’s total budget. The new money will allow for improved services and a 60 per cent increase in the number of users from 43,000 to 69,000 over the next three years.

Operated by local authorities and jointly funded by central and local government, the scheme provides a subsidised taxi transport service for people with serious mobility constraints.

Government's share of funding will be boosted from 40 to 50 per cent in the current year and to 60 per cent in subsequent years, provided local authorities do not reduce their contributions.

The expanded scheme will give disabled people the support they need to get around and/or work in our communities, a goal of the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

Support funds extended to state sector

From 1 July 2005, all state sector agencies can apply for Ministry of Social Development's Support Funds to help disabled employees overcome barriers to employment. These funds were previously only available to the private sector. However, the State Services Commission advises government agencies should draw on organisational resources to meet their good employer obligations in the first place, and should only access Support Funds in more exceptional circumstances.

Workbridge administers Support Funds on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development. For more information, go to:

Work and Income reassessment reviewed

Some Work and Income clients have expressed concern that they have to be re-assessed every year when their impairments do not change.
Following changes to the administration of the Disability Allowance from May 2004, I am pleased that new questions were added to the disability certificate to enable doctors to indicate the nature and duration of the impairment to ensure people are not re-assessed unnecessarily.
Air NZ introduces new lifting equipment

Air New Zealand has introduced new mechanical lifting equipment for disabled people at seven airports around the country. I was lucky enough to try out the equipment before it went ‘live’ and am happy to report that it was comfortable, quick and efficient.

The Eagle2 lifting device helps disabled customers transfer from a wheelchair to an aircraft seat and vice versa. It’s now available on Air New Zealand’s jet aircraft (including Freedom Air) from Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Rotorua, Dunedin and Palmerston North airports, and will be introduced at Hamilton airport from November.

Disabled people need to be able to travel independently if they are to participate fully in our communities. The new lifting device will remove air travel barriers for many passengers, and at the same time provide a safe working environment for airline staff.

The current solution will benefit the 70 per cent of Air New Zealand’s disabled passengers who travel on its jet services. The airline is looking at similar options for its smaller regional services, and hopes to have a lifting solution in place early next year that will enable disabled people to travel independently on all domestic flights. I look forward to seeing further progress.

More information can be found at:

Air NZ to train staff in disability awareness

Frontline Air New Zealand staff will soon benefit from a new video produced by the company to help improve awareness of their disabled customers' needs. The video will improve staff understanding of the needs of customers with vision or mobility impairments, as well as those of people with learning disabilities or epilepsy.

Sound Sense report online

A report of Sound Sense – the New Zealand Hearing Association Conference 2005 – is on the Hearing Association website.

Check it out at:

New Zealand Health Innovation Awards

Do you have a new idea or innovation that is making a difference in the health, disability or rehabilitation sector?

Expressions of interest are now open for the New Zealand Health Innovation Awards 2006. These awards celebrate excellence, innovation and quality improvement - no innovation is too big or too small!

Expressions of interest close on 10 October 2005. Entry forms are available from:

New disability toolkit promotes strategy

'Kia Rangatu: Moving Forward is a new training resource promoting awareness of working with disabled people. It provides a toolkit for group facilitators in organisations that want to give their staff a working understanding of the New Zealand Disability Strategy and help with its implementation.

The toolkit comes with a workbook, two videos, a copy of the NZ Disability Strategy, the pamphlet on the Code of Health and Disability Services: Consumer Rights, and 'To Have an Ordinary Life', a report looking at community membership for adults with an intellectual disability.

Kia Rangatu was produced by the Auckland Disability Providers Network in association with the Auckland College of Education and Point of View Productions. It is available for $100 from the Auckland Disability Providers Network. Phone/fax (09) 410 6917.

Local bodies endorse positive ageing

Seventeen of the 56 government agencies included in the 2005/2006 Positive Ageing Action Plan are local government authorities, up from four last year.

Local body issues such as housing, transport, parking and access to services have a huge impact on the ability of older people to participate in society. I want to congratulate the 17 local authorities who are developing practical initiatives that value older people’s contribution to our communities.

Queen's Birthday Honours

Congratulations to the following disabled people and people working in the disability sector who received a New Zealand Honour in the Queen's Birthday list:
·Joy Cowley (Wellington) - Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature which benefit children with reading difficulties.
·Professor Frances Hughes (Wellington) - Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the mental health profession.
·Douglas Callander (Wellington) - Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to special education and war veterans.
·Joy Thompson (Christchurch) - Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to people who are vision impaired.
·Ian Burrell (Rotorua) - Queen's Service Medal for Community Service for work with the community and organisations in Rotorua, including the Stroke Foundation and Alzheimer's Society.
·Elizabeth Carroll (Palmerston North) - Queen's Service Medal for Community Service for her work with the Deaf community in the Manawatu and Wellington.
·Ralph Dixon, (Rotorua) - Queen's Service Medal for Community Service for work with community organisations including the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.
·Diana Jackson (Christchurch) - Queen's Service Medal for Community Service for her work with the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson Disease Society.
·Sheila Sinclair (Dunedin) - Queen's Service Medal for Community Service for her work with various disability related organisations.
·Alexander and Mary Stewart (Northland) - Queen's Service Medal for Community Service for their role in establishing the Head Injury Society.
·Joan Swift (Auckland) - Queen's Service Medal for Community Service for her work with the Cancer Society.
·Anthony Frost (Nelson) - Queen's Service Medal for Public Services for his work as an orthotist (one who specialises in artificial limbs) and for his work in assisting to provide medical aids for disabled people in their own homes.
You can view previous recipients of New Zealand Honours at:

Nominate for a New Zealand Honour
Do you know of someone who has made a great contribution to his or her community? You may want to nominate them for a New Zealand Honour in recognition of their contribution.
More information at:

Wheel Blacks win Pacific Cup

Congratulations to the Wheel Blacks, New Zealand's wheelchair rugby team, winners of the inaugural Pacific Cup recently played in Porirua. The Wheel Blacks beat their fierce rivals and current world champions Canada in a tightly- fought four test series. New Zealand will complete in another series against Australia in September, and at the Oceania Championships in November. Well done!

Credit Unions introduce accessible ATMs

Congratulations to the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions for providing voice-enabled ATM machines nationwide. The ‘talking’ ATMs have been developed for use by blind and vision-impaired customers and are used by plugging personal headphones into a universal audio jack. The ATM then delivers step-by-step audio instructions to the customer.

I am impressed by the association's commitment to recognising the diversity of their customers' banking needs.

IHC Petone art goes international

Well done to clients of the IHC Petone Arthouse in Wellington whose art was purchased by the New Zealand Netherlands Foundation and was exhibited in the Netherlands – the first time their efforts have been seen outside New Zealand. Keep up the good work!

WCC gets tough on parking

Congratulations to Wellington City Council for adopting a tougher line on people who park in mobility parking spaces without a valid permit. They have introduced an instant ticketing system and are towing away offending vehicles, as well as almost doubling the amount of mobility parking spaces in the CBD (from 37 to 60).

Mental health reporting improves

A recent report by the Mental Health Commission shows a significant improvement in the way people with experience of mental illness were represented in the print media between the initial study in 1998 and the follow-up study in 2004. Although there is still some way to go, this is a heartening result.

New SPARC disability advisor appointed

DPA president Mike Gourley has been appointed as the new Senior Advisor (Disabilities) at Sport and Recreation (SPARC). Mike will be working across SPARC to implement results of an internal audit of policies, plans and programmes against the NZ Disability Strategy. He will have a key role in the implementation of the No Exceptions Strategy and Implementation Plan, which promotes disabled people accessing sport and recreation activities. Congratulations, Mike!

Sign language election DVD produced

The Chief Electoral Office has worked with the Deaf Association of New Zealand to develop a sign language DVD about voting in the 2005 General Election. The DVD uses sign language, sound and captions to explain enrolment and voting. The office is working with the Deaf Association to ensure that as many people as possible can view the DVD, which is also available on the elections website.

For more information about the General Election Disability Action Plan, go to:

Accessible polling booths

The Chief Electoral Office aims for at least 50 per cent of all polling places to be accessible on election day, including at least 12 polling places in each electorate. All registered voters will also receive in the mail an ‘easy-vote’ pack with a list of all polling places, including those assessed for accessibility by the Barrier Free Trust.
For more information, check out:

Help for blind and vision-impaired voters

The Chief Electoral Office has produced information on how to vote in Braille, large print and audio cassette. The Royal Foundation of the Blind has sent out this information to its members. It can also can be requested at or phone 0800 243333.

Ballot papers are not available in alternative formats. However, blind or vision impaired people are entitled to nominate a person to assist them by filling out the form on their behalf or ask the issuing officer for assistance. This help is available for all disabled voters.

Still on the subject of the election…

Are you enrolled to vote? With 17 September fast approaching, it's important that you are able to have your say. If you haven’t enrolled yet, you can still do so but you will have to cast a special declaration vote on election day and this will take longer than normal. The last day to enrol is Friday 16 September.

Enrolment forms are available by calling 0800 ENROL NOW (0800 36 76 56), freetexting your name and address to 3676, visiting or at any PostShop.

And finally, remember to VOTE!

It’s important! You only get the chance to vote once every three years, so make sure you have your say about who will form the next government!

You can vote:
·on election day, Saturday, 17 September, between 9am and 7pm; or
·by advance voting before election day when polling booths will be less busy. All advance voting facilities have access for disabled voters. For details of advance voting in your area, phone 0800 36 76 56.

Upcoming conferences and events

Deaf short films

New Zealand Second Deaf Short Film Festival
17 September: 6pm-12am, Christchurch.

Tickets $60 (includes three course meal) on sale 12 September 2005. Formal dress essential.

For general enquiries contact Brent Macpherson, Community Relations Officer, Deaf Association of NZ. Email:
Fax (09) 828 3235

For ticket sales contact Joyce Ferguson (Chairperson), Deaf Association of NZ.
Fax (03) 379 5089

Access, inclusion, culture and captioning in NZ turns 21 years old

Deaf Association of NZ forum,
Sunday, 18 September 2005, Christchurch

Theme: "What do Deaf/hearing impaired people want from television"?

This event will look at the history of captioning in New Zealand – how it has evolved, how programmes are selected for captioning, how captions are processed and compiled, and where to from here. New Zealand Sign Language Interpreters will be available.

Contact Brent Macpherson, Deaf Association of NZ. Email:

Foundations for the future

24-25 September 2005, Auckland.

This conference, which coincides with Deaf Awareness Week (19-25 September), will look at what the future might hold for Deaf and hearing-impaired people in New Zealand, particularly the impact of technology, bio-technology and social/cultural shifts.

More information, including the registration form, at

Taking charge: an accessible society for all

7-9 October 2005, Auckland

This conference is being organised by the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand.
For more information, email
Intellectual disability conference

10-13 October 2005, Auckland

Theme: "Out of the ordinary? Creativity, co-operation, collaboration"

The New Zealand Branch of the Australasian Society for the Study of Intellectual Disability Society is hosting its 40th annual conference at the Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre in Mt Wellington, Auckland. For more information visit:

Rising to the Challenge

9-10 November 2005
Brentwood Hotel, Wellington

A Standards Plus, Tautoko Services (with CCS, Southern Behaviour Support, IDEA Services) symposium to advance state-of-the-art practices in supporting families and young people whose behaviour presents as challenging.
For more information, visit:

DisAbility in Education conference

5-6 December 2005, Auckland

Theme: "This is the Moment".

More information is available from

How to get Participate

Participate is available by email (Word and text-only) or by hard copy.

You can subscribe to the email version at:

To receive or respond to the newsletter, please write to the Office of Hon Ruth Dyson, Parliament Buildings, Wellington, or email: