TROY ROBERTSON/LOCAL DEMOCRACY REPORTING
Unique insights from disabled people will help the council make the best decisions on disability policy, Waikato advocate Troy Robertson says.
A Waikato cerebral palsy advocate says Hamilton City Council must work with the disability community when creating policies that directly impact their lives.
Troy Robertson’s message comes as the council seeks feedback on its Disability Policy Action Plan and how it engages the disability community.
“The best ideas and results is to use an approach that has disabled people at the forefront of any decisions surrounding anything to do within the disability sector.
“As stated in the policy under number 8 in the principles – disabled people have a unique insight and in a way we are experts on how we view the world, as it is very different to someone who is able-bodied,” Robertson said.
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The council’s first Disability Policy was adopted in 2012 and has been reviewed regularly since. Staff are in the process of reviewing the current policy as well as forming a Disability Action Plan for the next three years.
The council is particularly interested hearing from people with physical, sensory, neurological, psychiatric, and intellectual disabilities.
As someone who lives with cerebral palsy, a physical disability that affects movement and posture, Robertson says most council spaces in Hamilton are “pretty good”, but improvements are needed around accessible parking spaces.
“Council spaces are overall pretty good in Hamilton, and they have improved since I moved to Hamilton seven-years-ago. Disabled parks have got bigger, which helps a lot. There are quite a few walking trails we can go on.
“However, there are a few disabled parks that are not very accessible, and some could be a little dangerous depending on how busy the traffic is.”
The location of accessible parking around Hamilton’s CBD is close to Robertson’s heart. It includes the Alexandra Street area where Robertson was almost hit by a truck as he manoeuvred out of his vehicle.
“Last year…I was getting out of the van and they didn’t see me, so I had to go back in the van otherwise he’d run me over.
“The issue is that accessible parking spaces are often in problematic positions where they back out onto a busy road. They are small and some back out onto entrances of things. My hoist is long, so I have to stop the traffic as I have to use quite a bit of the road to reverse out.”
By 2050, the UN estimates there will be 940 million disabled people living in urban areas around the world.
According to a 2013 Disability Survey by Stats NZ, Waikato reported one in four residents have an impairment of some kind.
The submission period closes on 26 April and Robertson is encouraging his community to make their voices heard and provide honest feedback to help steer this conversation.
“Any input from anyone that is disabled is beneficial.”