A lack of meaningful employment opportunities and access to reliable frequent public transport were two issues raised in a report released by the Disabled Person's Assembly this week.

The "have your say" workshop's aim was to listen to the concerns of the disabled community in the Bay of Plenty with a report of the findings released on Wednesday.

The findings will be presented to Tauranga City Council and Bay of Plenty District Health Board, with follow-up meetings beginning May 8 to discuss what could be done.

Themes from the March 20 workshop were centred on physical access to transport, access to employment and education, educating the public in disability issues and having strong links with the Tauranga community.


The most recent census showed Tauranga had the third highest percentage of disabled people in New Zealand at 27 per cent, behind only Northland and Taranaki.

Founding Disabled Person's Assembly member Paul Curry said the concerns group members had were across the whole spectrum of everyday life. "I've been in a wheelchair for 40 years but at the end of the day, when you boiled everything down from the whole workshop, the resounding thing everybody in the room strived for was to be ordinary.

"They didn't want to be treated as special, or classified as special needs, they just wanted to be able to participate in society and have the same equal opportunities and human rights as everybody else."

Mr Curry said the number one issue for the group was to have meaningful work.

"Real opportunities and real opportunities to contribute. There is more and more evidence that people with disabilities make better employees than anyone else."

CCS Disability Action access co-ordinator, Mandy Gudgeon, said the goals were realistic and achievable.

What are the major issues for Tauranga?
•Employment: Lack of paid and volunteer work and opportunities to train.
•Transport: Access to reliable, frequent public transport. There was acknowledgement that public transport had improved in the last two years.
•Access to footpaths, walkways and keeping walkways maintained.
•Having good signage around the city that was easy for all people to read.
•Access to affordable health services: This included affordable 24/7 transport to hospitals and emergency clinics.
•Better information about what support funding packages were available for disabled children, teens and adults and what community support was available for disabled people and their families.