More needs to be done on disability issues - Sepuloni

Source: Q and A

Former disability minister Carmel Sepuloni says the establishment of a specific ministry dedicated to New Zealanders with disabilities is "incredibly significant".

She told Q+A with Jack Tame that there's a lot of work to be done.

"You could look at any government agency and find something specific to disabled people where we are lacking in progress," Sepuloni said.

Sepuloni expects the new ministry to work "constructively" with other government agencies to improve things for the 1.1 million Kiwis with disabilities.

"Not only will it be able to do its own work as a ministry but it will have a greater level of impact across government agencies, which will bring about the change disable have been calling for, at a faster pace."

Having overseen the establishment of the new ministry, Sepuloni was replaced by Poto Williams in the recent Cabinet reshuffle.

READ MORE: Hipkins replaces Poto Williams as Police Minister

Sepuloni told Jack Tame she will be Williams' "greatest ally" in Cabinet as she takes over the Disability Ministry.

"She is no longer the police minister, but taking on the disability portfolio is not a demotion. We're talking about a quarter of the population here, and it's a very exciting space, there's a lot to be done here."

READ MORE: 'Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People' launched

It comes at a time in which rates of material hardship for households that include a disabled person are getting worse. Currently more than half of children living in poverty come from a household with a disabled person.

“It is an issue that has been ignored for years, and we’re finally doing something about it,” said Sepuloni, saying that changes made by the Government specifically support these households.

She said there is “work underway behind the scenes” on the existing disability allowance.