Taranaki is leading the way in creating better lifestyles for disabled members of its community, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says.
The Taranaki Disability Strategy was launched in New Plymouth this week and is designed to break down physical and mental barriers for disabled in the region.
As Disability Issues Minister, Ms Turia attended a signing at the New Plymouth District Council with more than 200 others who were there to pledge support for the document.
Representatives from Taranaki local authorities, the District Health Board, Sport Taranaki, government agencies and disability support groups were in attendance on Monday.
Ms Turia said that while some individual councils had similar strategies, as far as she knew this was the first regional document of its kind, which could become a trendsetter in the field.
"I am really proud to be part of this important signing to also acknowledge the outstanding efforts that have been made in this region about disability."
She said the strategy was about building up the capability of disabled people, their families and communities so support could be provided from the community instead of relying on specialist disability services.
As well as the new strategy, Ms Turia said Taranaki's commitment had been highlighted through awards received by Govett Brewster Art Gallery and Womad in the last two years.
Both organisations won the Big ‘A' Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award in recognition of work done to become more accessible to disabled.
"I have drawn on these two examples because I think they demonstrate the type of leading-edge thinking which Taranaki is displaying in its everyday approach to the challenge of a disabling society."
Chairman of the launch Lance Girling-Butcher said the strategy would benefit all Taranaki residents.
"We can all be injured or fall sick at any time and require extra benefit," he said.
"Improved accessibility helps everyone, not just the one in five with chronic disability."
The Taranaki Disability Strategy was the result of almost five years work by a team from the Taranaki Disabilities Information Centre led by Brian Eriksen and Marion Wellington, Mr Girling-Butcher said.
They worked with staff from the councils, the health board and others to develop the document.
"Brian and a team visited just about every town in Taranaki and talked to the disabled to establish their needs."
Meetings would continue on a regular basis to monitor the document's progress.
- Taranaki Daily News
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