International Day of Persons with Disabilities highlights long road ahead

Media release

3 December 2018

IHC and Inclusion International are renewing their call to make inclusion a reality in all areas of society for people with intellectual disabilities.

Today marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – a United Nations mandated day that that aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant says it’s a great opportunity to reflect on how far New Zealand has come in making communities truly inclusive, but says we should be much further ahead.

“People with intellectual disabilities continue to face many hurdles here, and it’s shocking to see that more progress hasn’t been made.

“As a developed country, it’s not OK for people with intellectual disabilities to be living in poverty and dying earlier – they need to be experiencing better life outcomes.

“With all of the sweeping reforms the Government is currently undertaking, they must make sure to target this vulnerable population group to ensure they are not left behind.”

Trish says the education sector remains a problem area because children with intellectual disabilities are often not included in the same classroom as their fellow students, or given the same opportunities.

Inclusion International’s first series of conversations will begin in January 2019 on inclusive education.

They say education is the key to a full life in the community.

“We cannot achieve ‘education for all’ without children with intellectual disabilities.”

IHC National Self Advocate and the Asia Pacific representative for Inclusion International, David Corner, says it’s time for action.

“For too long we have been asking that we are treated equally – in education, work and community life.

“Now we are demanding it.

“New Zealand must take the lead to ensure that we are considered valued members of society, and that that the right supports are put in place to make it happen.”