Auckland Council change challenged by disability group

  • 06/08/2015

A restructure in the Auckland Council could leave disabled people without a proper voice in local government, a lobby group says.

Auckland Council Disability Action Panel will today lobby the council to reconsider the disestablishment of two specialist disability adviser roles from its Community Development and Safety unit.

The roles will be removed as part of an upcoming council restructure and rebranding of the unit into the "Community Empowerment unit".

One of the campaigners, Debbie Hager, said the advisers had played a major role in making council events and documents accessible to the disabled community, along with supporting the Disability Action Panel and working with Auckland Transport to encourage changes.

"We have explained the pivotal role they play in allowing disabled people to participate in decisions that affect them and we can't believe that despite this feedback from us they are still threatening to take these vital roles away," she said prior to the council approving the change.

Ms Hager said while they supported the council's new approach there was a worry "disability could fall off the radar".

"The progress we have made since having specific disability advisers to council could be lost and there is fear there will be no more progress," she said.

But the council said it had set up new roles in the restructure process and consulted to ensure there was enough knowledge about disability issues to continue the work.

"By creating these roles we are ensuring that council continues to receive considered, strategic advice on matters of importance to the disability community," Council community development general manager, Graham Bodman said.

The Community Empowerment unit will replace the current unit in October.