Public Service Commission has selected Geraldine Woods as Interim Chief Executive Officer for Disability Issues to be incorporated into the new Ministry, which will be officially known as Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People.
The Ministry of Disabled People was established by the government on this historic day, making it the first ministry in New Zealand to have a name in NZ Sign Language in addition to Te Reo Mori and English.
It comes at a crucial time for our nation as we set up a completely national health service as Health New Zealand and the Mori Health Authority also officially take effect as of today.
The announcement was made today by Ministers for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni and Disability Issues Poto Williams.
“Today marks a new chapter for approximately 1.1 million disabled people in Aotearoa New Zealand, and is a significant step toward realizing true partnership between Government and disabled people, tngata whaikaha, their whnau, carers, and supporters,” they said.
As part of our Health and Disability System reforms, we announced a number of measures for people with disabilities last year. The journey to overhaul the handicap system continues today, according to Carmel Sepuloni.
With almost $1 billion in new financing for the sector, Budget 2022 “underlined the Government’s commitment to achieve bold and transformational change for the disability community”.
The disabled community has been waiting for this day for many years. Work will continue to make sure the new Ministry has the time to set up its processes and people so that it is in a good position to carry out the change.
Informed by community consultation, the Establishment Unit, Governance Group, Community Steering Group, and officials have been moving quickly and pragmatically to set up the new Ministry and make sure we were ready to go by 1 July.
I wish to thank everyone for their contributions as the departing Minister for Disability Issues. According to Carmel Sepuloni, the improvements being steered through are the result of tireless effort and advocacy from the whole sector.
As the incoming Minister for Disability Issues, Poto Williams said, “I know that it’s been a hard journey for many in the sector. I look forward to this next exciting new chapter as we work together to achieve our shared vision of transforming Aotearoa into a non-disabling society.”
“In the spirit of ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us,’ the new Ministry will get things started by making sure the Ministry’s culture and values are mana-enhancing, the governance and partnership arrangements are meaningful, and the mechanisms that will give disabled people’s voices effect are long-lasting.
In order to improve results for persons with disabilities in areas including employment, education, health, and wellbeing, the Ministry will take the lead and coordinate disability policy across the government.
Having worked in residential disability services as well as the community, volunteer, and social services sectors, I’m looking forward to collaborating with the disability community to improve the lives of our handicapped population.
“Today marks a new milestone in the process of establishing a more inclusive society.
To raise awareness and recognize the potential of individuals with disabilities, it is a journey that all New Zealanders must take, and the government is committed to the role we must play along the way, Poto Williams said.