Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth | To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth the extent to which he and his Department continue to meet the needs of people with disabilities of all ages and gender
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth the extent to which he and his Department continue to meet the needs of people with disabilities of all ages and gender; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, I am acutely aware of the need to make further advances towards meeting the needs of people with disabilities in Ireland and I have consistently worked to move towards a rights based approach of support for people with disabilities.
Given the interlinkages between disability equality policy and other equality areas such as gender and children’s rights, my officials coordinate with a wide range of colleagues across the Department, other Government Departments/Agencies and external stakeholders to ensure that policy and strategy development takes account of the specific needs of different groups in society, on an explicitly intersectional basis.
Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on 20 March 2018. This marked an important milestone in a process to strengthen the rights of people with disabilities in Ireland that has gathered momentum since Ireland became a signatory to the Convention in 2007. Every Government Department and every Agency plays a role in ensuring implementation of the UNCRPD.
The Government’s approach to meeting the obligations of the UNCRPD is one of progressive realisation – each year moving forward on key reforms, through delivery of two whole-of-government national strategies – the National Disability Inclusion Strategy and the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities. This model involves obligations arising from the Convention being met over time. Initial priority has been given to meeting legislative commitments and requirements.
Ireland submitted its Initial State Report on the implementation of the UNCRPD to the UN Committee in November 2021, following extensive consultation with persons with disabilities, disabled persons organisations, representative organisations, and families. My Department is currently awaiting a review date from the UN Committee to evaluate progress made to date.
My Department coordinates two major national strategies, which aim to address the needs of people with disabilities in Ireland.
Firstly, the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS), contains 123 actions to support effective progress in delivering on the obligations set out in the UNCRPD, including in relation to children and women with disabilities. Implementation of the NDIS is monitored in regular NDIS Steering Group meetings through a reporting system which requires Government Departments and Agencies to detail their progress biannually. The group is supported by independent analysis and advice from the National Disability Authority (NDA).
The Comprehensive Employment Strategy (CES), is the primary disability employment policy initiative in Ireland. It is a cross-government approach, bringing together actions by Government Departments and Agencies to address the barriers and challenges to the employment of persons with disabilities. The CES’s strategic priorities are to build skills, capacity and independence, to provide bridges and supports into work, to make work pay, to promote job retention and re-entry to work, to provide coordinated and seamless supports and to engage employers. Implementation of the CES is undertaken through agreed action plans and is monitored by an Implementation Group with an independent chairperson.
Efforts are also underway to address the specific needs of people with autism. Last year, on World Autism Day, I announced my intention to develop an Autism Innovation Strategy. The Autism Innovation Strategy will identify key areas where individuals with autism face particular challenges and barriers, focusing on areas which may not be addressed by other national strategies. Once published, the Autism Innovation Strategy will utilise the key themes of innovation, empowerment and awareness raising to shape future policies and strategies to accelerate our journey towards being a more autism-inclusive and neurodiverse-friendly society.
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