Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth | Persons with disabilities support programmes
To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the extent to which he continues to promote and propel issues of assistance to persons with disabilities in line with representations received from the disability sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, I am committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are supported to live the lives they want to. I would also highlight that key achievements have been made across a number of Government Departments in this regard.
My Department receives a significant number of representations from members of the public concerning disability policy development in Ireland. Many of these representations are from disability organisations and those with lived experience of a disability. This is important as the inclusion of people with disabilities in the policy making process is set out as a clear obligation in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and is a priority to me as Minister of State.
Effective and meaningful consultation with people with disabilities and their representative organisations is a critical component of inclusive policy making processes and in that regard, the Disability Participation and Consultation Network (DPCN) was established in 2020 with funding from my Department. The DPCN successfully facilitated a comprehensive and inclusive consultation on Ireland’s first State Report under the UNCRPD, and the final Report that was submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in November 2021 benefits greatly from contributions made through this process. The DPCN continues to be an important forum through which people with disabilities, including Disabled Persons Organisations, are supported to become involved in consultations that inform the development of law and policy in Ireland.
The Disability Stakeholder Group (DSG) is another example of a way in which government directly engages with people with disabilities in the policy development process. The DSG is a voluntary group of individuals with expertise and lived experience of disability. It is comprised of 24 members, representing a cross-cut of the disability community, and includes an independent Chairperson.
The DSG has an important role in independently monitoring the implementation of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) and the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities (CES) which are key national frameworks for policy and action to address the rights of persons with disabilities in Ireland.
The NDIS contains over 120 actions and serves to coordinate action at a whole of government level on disability issues. Similarly, the CES serves to coordinate whole of government efforts to increase access to, and participation in, the labour market and employment for persons with disabilities.
Consultation is also at the centre of current efforts to develop a national Autism Innovation Strategy. As the first step in the development of the strategy, a public consultation was launched in April 2022 to gather feedback, opinions and insights into the current supports and services provided and to identify specific issues to be addressed by the strategy. These insights will feed directly into a first draft of the Autism Innovation Strategy. Efforts are also underway to appoint an Oversight and Advisory Group to oversee implementation of the strategy. It is intended that this group will represent lived experience as much as possible. Once a draft strategy has been published, a further public consultation will be carried out to give people the chance to have their say before the strategy is finalised and adopted.
The Government is furthermore committed to developing a UNCRPD Implementation Plan and I look forward to working through the development of this Plan in consultation with people with disabilities and their representative organisations.
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