Statement on International Day of People with Disabilities

Disabled People which aims to identify and address the discrimination, marginalization, exclusion and inaccessibility that many people living with disabilities face.

It was back in 1992 that the United Nations called for an international day of celebration for people living with disabilities to held on the third of December each year.

It provides us with an opportunity to outline and reiterate our commitment to create inclusive, accessible and sustainable communities here in Wales.

This objective has been made more urgent by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many Disability charities in Wales have united to call on the Welsh Government to act decisively to safeguard the well-being and survival of disabled people and others categorised as being at high risk of contracting the virus.

For disabled people, much of the advice on how to avoid infection, such as self-isolation and social distancing, is impossible to follow.

Many disabled people require daily assistance and need the support of personal assistants or care workers. Concerns have been expressed about the quality of care that can be delivered when care workers go into isolation or become sick.

Disabled Charities have called on the Welsh Government to put co-ordinated plans in place on how to respond to a shortage of care workers.

It is clear that disabled people are likely to face harm not just through the Coronavirus itself but through the general strain on the health and social care system.

The Welsh Government must ensure social care delivery and provision or accessible information and support is adequately resourced in Wales.

We have a duty to ensure disabled people are not treated as unavoidable casualties in this pandemic.

I would ask that the Deputy Minister in her reply confirms that disabled people will be treated as a priority for the forthcoming vaccination programme here in Wales.

Hate Crime is an increasing problem in the UK and, sadly, Wales is no exception.

There was an 84 per cent increase in the number of online disability hate crimes reported to police in Wales last year.

Although hate crime legislation is not a responsibility devolved to this Parliament, the Welsh Government has a duty to ensure that adequate funding for advocacy and support services for victims is provided.

We must continue to encourage police services to work in partnership with disabled people and their organisations to ensure accurate recognition, recording and reporting of disability hate crimes and work to ensure that relevant agencies review the provision of third-party reporting, to evaluate their impact and sustainability, highlight gaps, and ensure they are consistent with police recording systems.

The Deputy Minister will know of my support for the Purple Vote Campaign which is geared around raising the subject of disability awareness to those in elected roles at all levels.

Society still presents significant challenges for disabled people, and it’s critical that all voices from all sectors of Welsh society are heard, and are equally valid.

I understand the Welsh Government has launched a consultation on the establishment of a new fund to provide additional support to disabled people to seek elected office for the 2021 Senedd elections and the 2022 Local Government elections.

I welcome this and look forward to seeing more candidates who have disabilities standing for election at both local and national level in the future.

Finally, Deputy Minister, may I ask about opportunities for disabled people to participate in sport in Wales?

Sports’ governing bodies need to adopt a more coherent, planned and co-ordinated approach to disabled sports in Wales.

Do you agree that sports’ governing bodies should set targets for raising participation rates among disabled people and how is the Welsh Government monitor progress on achieving greater participation by disabled people in sports?

Participation in sport can play an important role in making disabled people feel fully involved and integrated in society.

This is one of the objectives of the International Day of Disabled People and I thank the Deputy Minister for her statement today.

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