29 Oct 2020

'Disabled are getting to the point of anger': Call for government to step up

2:59 pm on 29 October 2020

By Ella Stewart and Nadia Amaral

People with disabilities live in damper homes, earn less and have fewer social connections, according to a new report.


Photo: 123rf

The findings from Stats NZ measure the level of inequality for the one in four New Zealanders who are disabled.

It found the median personal income for disabled people aged between 15 and 64 was less than half of that of non-disabled people, at just $353 per week.

The report's authors highlighted the "disability gap" by examining data from the 2018 census to build a snapshot of how the lives of disabled New Zealanders differ.

Stats NZ wellbeing and housing manager Clair Bretherton said the report highlighted that there was clearly a gap.

"We do need to find a way to close that gap going forward," she said.

Dr Bretherton said the report provided a snapshot of outcomes for disabled people compared to non-disabled people.

"As we continue to collect data going forward, we should be able to track and monitor how those outcomes are changing and use that as a way to monitor the progress for disabled people in New Zealand," she said.

Disability rights activist and lawyer Huhana Hickey said she was not surprised, calling the statistics depressing.

"It's stuff that we've been pushing for well over 20 years, 30 years and it's the same issue, lack of accessibility, lack of housing, lack of change."

Dr Hickey noted that it was a lot worse for Māori communities.

"Disabled Māori are much worse off, with even less voice, less autonomy, less say, I mean only six percent of Māori access any kind of disability support and services."

Hickey said representation in Parliament was crucial if anything was going to change for disabled communities.

"There has been absolutely no voice for disabled for a long time in government, not that's consistent, not that leads change or transformation and so they either need to step up the game this election or disabled are getting to the point of anger and there will be reactions to that."

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