Every Kiwi Counts - Disability Issues Newsletter September 2015

Disability Issues
Friday, September 25, 2015

Hi everyone,

As we move into warmer weather and adjust to daylight saving, I’ve been thinking about Disability Issues.  It’s just one year since I took on the role as Minister for Disability Issues and what a journey it’s been!  I’ve found the sector to be engaging and vocal – always pushing the Government for better outcomes for disabled people.  Their activity has helped me understand the importance of giving disabled people more control and choice in their lives, more opportunities to work and greater accessibility to their communities.

I hope you enjoy my inaugural Disability Issues newsletter and are interested in the positive things disabled people are doing across the country and what I’ve been up to recently.

Active in HELL – training opportunities

It’s great to see businesses making an effort to employ and upskill disabled people – especially as disabled people are often the most hard working and competent members of the team!

In August I visited the HELL Pizza Petone store to learn more about the company’s Active in HELL programme. Active is a work experience programme that gives young New Zealanders with learning disabilities the chance to learn about food safety standards, customer service and pizza making. I enjoyed making a chicken, cranberry and camembert pizza with Active in HELL graduates Rene and Jasmin. And my staff here in Wellington appreciated pizza for lunch.

Jasmin Waetford, Hon Nicky Wagner and Rene Bunker with their chicken, cranberry and camembert pizza.

Kapiti Mobility Expo – the OGO – greater accessibility

Kiwis are known for their ingenuity and innovation.  At the Kapiti Mobility Expo, I met Kevin Halsall the creator of the OGO. The OGO is a wheelchair that uses Segway technology to create a hands free experience for wheel chair users. The user operates the OGO by leaning on the handlebars to steer, and transferring weight back and forwards for accelerating and braking.  And it’s great fun! It’s great to see innovative and creative technology being developed here in our back yard to help make life easier for disabled people.

Kapiti Coast Mayor Ross Church, OGO creator Kevin Halsall and Hon Nicky Wagner at the Kapiti Mobility Expo

Trim Cappuccino and New Zealand Sign Language – new jobs

Ordering a trim cappuccino is pretty straightforward, but it’s not every day you get to place your order using New Zealand Sign Language! Chris Bishop MP and I popped into Co-Ed Café in Lower Hutt together this month where I did just that.

Around half of Co-Ed’s staff is Deaf and all staff and patrons are encouraged to use NZSL to order their drinks and meals.  It’s everyday inclusive experiences like this that make New Zealand’s 20,000+ NZSL users part of our communities. 

I was also pleased to congratulate Co-Ed on winning two prestigious awards. They won the 2015 Employer’s Award  at the NZSL in Action Awards earlier this year, as well as the Diversability Award at the EEO’s Diversity Awards! Watch the video here.

Wellington City Council’s Emergency Preparedness Poster – take control!

On 1 September Wellington City Council launched their new Emergency Preparedness Poster – it’s a one page pictorial poster designed to be inclusive and easy for everyone to understand. It explains what people should do if they are physically unable to get down to the ground during an earthquake, and because it’s mostly pictorial it will also benefit those who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

Paul Eagle, Wellington City Councillor, and Hon Nicky Wagner with the Emergency Preparedness Poster

All great initiatives for disabled people and there are heaps more happening out there – visit my website for more stories.

United Nations Accessibility Logo – a new attitude!

The UN recently launched a new Accessibility Logo which is described as being a universal human figure with open arms symbolising inclusion for people of all abilities, everywhere. The Accessibility Logo was created to depict accessibility for persons with disabilities. This includes accessibility of information, services, communication technologies, as well as physical access.  I like it because it moves beyond just physical access and reflects the diversity in the disability community. For further information about the logo visit: http://www.un.org/webaccessibility/logo.shtml.

And finally I love the energy and rhythm of the Pharrell Williams song 'Happy' performed by the folk at the Epic Arts Café in Cambodia.  Epic Arts are an NGO providing educational opportunities for deaf and disabled children and their parents. The video includes 36 disabled people in the Kampot community. Click here to watch the video.

Their message resonates …. “Every person counts and that people of all abilities should be valued, respected, and included.”

All the best

Hon Nicky Wagner National MP and Member of Parliament for Christchurch Central

Minister of Customs
Minister of Disability Issues
Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery