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Empowering the voice of persons with disabilities: system gears up for transformational boost

man in a wheelchair on a busy street

Disabled leadership networks will receive a $1m boost as the Government lays the foundation for transformation in the disability sector, Minister for Disability Issues Priyanca Radhakrishnan has announced. 

“This additional funding supports the expansion of a regional disability leadership model successfully piloted in Waikato, MidCentral and Christchurch,” Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.

“The success of those leadership networks can now start to be expanded, with priority consideration in cyclone and severe weather affected areas.

“Natural disasters, as we’ve experienced in Auckland and on the East Coast recently, are clear reminders of the value of community-led leadership, particularly in the disability community.

“The initial focus will be making sure affected regions are equipped with networks to provide a strong local voice for disabled people in the recovery.

“Having leadership groups in communities will ensure that disabled people and their whānau can exercise leadership and have greater choice over the services and supports available to them. These networks will work directly with the likes of local government, schools, and hospitals.

“We’re building on the successful model piloted in the Enabling Good Lives demonstration sites. For example, in the Waikato, we’ve seen these networks work with health agencies to improve the accessibility of hospital services.

“In MidCentral, the establishment of the YAAY (Young Adults and Youth) group has focused on growing the next generation of disabled leaders.

“We’re encouraging applications from a variety of regional organisations. Their work will complement the role of Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People across central government.

“This is an exciting opportunity for disabled people-led organisations, including Māori and Pacific groups, to listen to and amplify the voices of the disability community.

“As we continue to focus on the transformation of the disability sector, we need to ensure we have strong leadership regionally as well as nationally.

“Leadership needs to be locally led and driven by disabled people. I fully support the ‘nothing about us, without us’ approach.”

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