<Day Date Month Year>
Dear Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues
My name is <your name>. I live in your Kelston electorate [if appropriate]. I am writing to you in your capacity as Minister for Disability Issues. I am a person with <disability/access need> / who is an ally to the disabled community / who is a carer for a disabled person and have been since <year> / birth.
We all want to live in a country where every New Zealander can fully participate in society. Back in 2018, the Government committed to creating a fully accessible Aotearoa New Zealand through Accessibility Legislation. It is now 2022 and a Bill is finally due to be presented to Parliament in July. Unfortunately, the Government’s accelerating accessibility policy announcement falls well short of the recommendations made by the Access Alliance.
The Access Alliance has put forward 13 Principles on which Accessibility Legislation should be based to ensure that it is effective in protecting the access rights of all New Zealanders.
The legislation should:
- Apply to all
- Set a timeline
- Set the bar
- Provide accessibility in all areas of life
- Set policy
- Champion access to all goods, services and facilities
- Champion accessible workplaces, employment and education
- Charge government with the responsibility to lead, educate, train, inform and review
- Be enforceable
- Be made real through regulations
- Ensure public funds are not used to create or perpetuate obstacles to full accessibility in all areas of life
- Be a lens through which to vet legislation
- Have real force and real effect.
As a supporter of the Access Matters campaign, the legislation framework I want to see has five key ingredients:
- Accessibility legislation
- Access standards
- Independent regulation
- A notification and barrier identification process
- An effective dispute resolution process.
The New Zealand Law Foundation funded the report ‘Making New Zealand Accessible, a Design for Effective Accessibility Legislation’ which proposes one way to implement the five accessibility ingredients. The report also provides a framework that could deliver on the majority of the 13 Principles proposed by the Access Alliance. We are calling on the Government to reconsider their current policy and draft a Bill based on the framework recommended in the New Zealand Law Foundation report.
I would like to ask:
- Why you believe it’s not feasible to include the Access Alliance’s 13 principles in the Government’s Accelerating Accessibility Legislative Framework policy?
- Why is your policy only focused on central government? Why not cover local government and business too?
- What evidence and alternative solutions do submitters need to present to the Select Committee to convince the Government to change their Bill?
- Why do you expect disabled people, and other people with access needs, to continue to be the watchdogs for inaccessible public goods, services and facilities?
- Why did you decide not to develop and implement accessibility standards as part of the policy?
We have a chance to make history. Please don’t let this opportunity pass by. Getting this law right has huge potential to achieve equity by reducing and preventing barriers among New Zealand’s disabled and other population groups. The consequences of getting it wrong will take decades to unwind.
I am requesting a meeting with you to discuss Accessibility Legislation in further detail. Please reply to me at <email address> / <phone number> / <postal address>.
Access Matters Campaigner