Disability strategy launched

SARAH FOY - NORTH TARANAKI MIDWEEK
Last updated 13:29 21/11/2012

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For some it's the power outages in Opunake. Others seek less crowded access to Pukekura Park when the annual lights display is on.

These are just two of a range of issues nutted out in a new disability strategy for the region, being launched in New Plymouth on December 3.

Brian Eriksen, Taranaki Disabilities Information Centre Trust manager, says the strategy has been in the pipeline for at least two years.

Groups from around the region worked together on it.

They included representatives from local authorities, as well as those from community, health, education, business, sport, disabled and government organisations.

Statistics show about 17 per cent of the region's population identify as being disabled.

Mr Eriksen says the strategy aimed to make Taranaki a region where people with impairments led lives free of disability.

Issues within the region varied, depending on where people lived and what disability they lived with.

In Opunake, for example, power outages caused difficulty for people on ventilators or elderly living alone. Under work for the strategy, information was passed to affected people, including stressing the need to join neighbourhood support groups.

At the same time, South Taranaki District Council was told of the issue.

In the lower reaches of the Patea River, concerned residents worried about the lack of an early warning system for the dam.

"The alarm is in Hawera so there's nothing to tell people in the lower reaches of an immediate emergency. Now there's something in place." Mr Eriksen says.

In New Plymouth, people with disabilities would be given access to Pukekura Park's festival of the lights before its opening and just before the lights ended early next year. That allowed them to view the displays in less crowded circumstances.

Mr Eriksen says the strategy development had been a long process but now there was buy-in from everyone and an agreed set of goals. A coalition group had also being set up to monitor the strategy.

The launch takes place at the New Plymouth District Council's chambers at 10am with special guest Disabilities Issues Minister Tariana Turia. People attending can park at the New Plymouth racecourse and catch a 9.30am bus, organised for the event.

It's expected to be a vehicle with a low floor to aid those with limited mobility.

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