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Disabled floater voters 3: Education and Justice

This is the third of a series of blogs from the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA).   We have used DPA’s strategic areas of focus, as identified by our members, as a guide to examine key areas of each party’s policies. We have then asked questions that we would like answered from political parties.

Education

Many disabled children are not welcome in their local school, families have to battle to have their learning needs met and children may not achieve to their potential.  Many are excluded.  Many find it hard to make friends and most report being bullied. Disabled people are under-represented in tertiary education.

What will your party do to ensure disabled children are included and supported to achieve in their local schools and early childhood centres as of right? 

Would you work to ensure better school leadership and accountability, better teacher education and professional development, or more funding or other resources?

How would you ensure the school system is fully inclusive in the long term?

How would you support disabled people to achieve through tertiary education and through lifelong learning?

Our comparative assessment: the Green Party has done its homework on meeting the learning support needs of disabled students, and costed it.  Most other parties have differing levels of commitment to making education more inclusive.  To solve systemic issues, the system needs mechanisms to identify, quantify and respond to disabled students’ needs; and to measure progress and comparative achievement with their peers. 

Justice

Many disabled people are denied their legal capacity and their right to make their own decisions with support, including as they become older, if they have a learning disability or head injury, or if they are in the mental health system.  Many are victims of violence and abuse, including historic abuse in state care, and in the community today.

The justice system, family courts, Police, and other agencies are not trained to treat all disabled people fairly, as family members, victims, witnesses, or alleged perpetrators.  People with neuro-disabilities are the majority entering the youth justice system, they, and people with mental illness, make up the majority of all people in the criminal justice system.

What would your party do to ensure disabled people have the right to make their own decisions with the support they may choose? 

How would you reduce violence and abuse against disabled people? 

Will you hold an inquiry into historic abuse, apologise, and learn from it?

How would you reduce the number of disabled people in the youth and criminal justice systems?

Our comparative assessment: no party is strong on changes to rights and capacity laws and ensuring all disabled people’s right to make their own decisions with support.  Some are listening on the need for police training.  The OpportunitIes Party leads in promoting stronger civics and rights education.  On the positive side, all parties except National support an inquiry into and learning from the historic abuse of disabled people.

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