At a time when the nation’s attention is focused on recreating the built environment of our second-largest city, a new enterprise is launching with two significant and potentially contributory new initiatives: New Zealand’s first nationwide accessibility programme, Be. Accessible, and the first nationwide disability leadership programme of its kind, Be. Leadership.
At its launch event at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Friday 6 May, Be. Institute will formally present the two programmes and outline the vision for what the institute, through its initiatives and partnerships, can do to foster accessibility and enable a 100% accessible society for all New Zealanders.
The mission is social change: to improve the accessibility of the physical environment, enable better access to information, promote the inclusion and leadership of disabled people in employment and the community, and change social attitudes and behaviours.
In many respects, the timing of the launch is optimal. One Be. Institute project, the Be. Test Match, will be rolled out through the Be. Accreditation programme (part of Be. Accessible) to the 12 New Zealand cities hosting Rugby World Cup 2011.
In the first phase, the Be. Assessors will visit key locations in each of the 12 cities and assess stadia, fan zones, i-SITES and other relevant locations such as hotels.
However, the organization’s aims for its programmes reach beyond this sporting event. By the end of May, Be. Accessible will have trained 40 Be. Assessors, who will be equipped with the tools and know-how to perform holistic assessments of the aforementioned sites, and thousands of others over time.
They will be able to cover the whole accessibility journey, asking questions like: how accessible is the organisation’s website?; what is the level of customer service?; how accessible is the building entrance, interior and products?; and are the business / organization’s marketing materials accessible to all people?
Be. Institute is led by chief executive Minnie Baragwanath, who before founding Be. Institute worked for 10 years in the disability sector, advising to the former Auckland City Council. She has brought together the Auckland Council, the Auckland University of Technology and the Auckland District Health Board to be founding partners of the Be. Institute.
Since it was formed in early 2011, Be. Institute has developed a working partnership with the Ministry of Social Development, and MP Tariana Turia will be attending the launch event, along with 200 other VIPs and contributors.
Ms Baragwanath says, “In launching the Be. Institute we are mindful of the importance of recognizing what is already being done. We have made great progress as a nation – however, there is more we need to do to create a 100% accessible country. New Zealanders are by nature inclusive and socially aware, and we are seeking to build on this through specific practices in our two programmes. Our view is that if we get it right for disabled people, we get it right for all people.”
Be. Accessible involves an accreditation framework and a communications campaign to inspire and enable a 100% accessible society. Be. Leadership, the first leadership programme of its kind in New Zealand, invites 20 emerging leaders to participate in a 10-month journey to become the best leader they can be.
Any business can book an accessibility assessment from a Be. Assessor and learn how they can change their practices or structure to make their organization more accessible. They need not be affiliated with RWC 2011 to do this.
- The Be. Institute launch event:
- Date: Friday 6 May 2011
- Time: 7pm – 10pm
- Venue: Auckland War Memorial Museum
- Dress: Glamorous and authentic
- The Be. Institute was founded in 2011 through a partnership between the Auckland Council, the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and the Auckland District Health Board;
- It is a social enterprise with the purpose of inspiring and enabling accessibility through innovation and leadership;
- The problem New Zealand faces is that 20% of the population doesn’t get full access to society, and even if employment is possible, people with disabilities earn less on average that those without;
- Founding trustees of the Be. Institute include John Allen (CEO of MFAT and Chair of the Employers Disability Network) and Mark Bagshaw, and the current chief executive is Minnie Baragwanath;
- The Institute’s two initiatives are Be. Accessible and Be. Leadership, which are designed to collectively achieve 100% accessibility for all New Zealanders;
- There are three interdependent pillars – social, physical and personal – necessary for a truly accessible society;
- The Be. Institute’s philosophy is around inclusion – everyone is welcome to participate – and the principle that in order to create a world in which we can all Be., we need to think about our expectations of disabled people, and consider the value of disabled people as leaders and not just recipients of charity;
- The vision and mission of Be. – can we talk about the importance of the Be. Accessble programme.
- One of the first social change programmes to inspire business, community, govt to recognise that we all play a part in creating an accessible world;
- The Be. Institute has coined a new term – the ‘Access Customer’ – which may include any of the following:
- An older person (the baby- boomer)
- A parent pushing a stroller
- Someone with a hearing or vision impairment
- A person with a mental health impairment
- A person who uses a wheelchair
- Launch attendee Tariana Turia is co-leader of the Maori Party and the member for Te tai Hauauru, Minister for Disability Issues and the Community and Voluntary Sectors, and Associate Minister of Social Development and Health;
- Launch attendee Rodney Hide is leader of the Act Party and the member for Epsom, Minister of Local Government and Regulatory Reform, and Associate Minister of Education;
- Between 660,000 and 730,000 people in New Zealand have a disability, and a total of 20% of Kiwis report a disability;
- Half of people 65+ have a disability, and by 2030 25% of Kiwis will be aged 65+;
- 186,340 people with a disability could be working;
- The limited accessibility for people with a disability means that 20% of Kiwis are excluded from fully participating in everyday activities;
- With improved accessibility, businesses could increase by 20% more customers;
- Sign Language is the third official language of New Zealand;
- The welfare cost is $2.1 billion per annum and the opportunity cost an estimated $11.7 billion per annum;
- El Du Pont de Nemours & Co conducted a study of 1,000 workers with disabilities, with results showing:
- 81% of workers with disabilities rated better than average in job performance;
- 86% of workers with disabilities rated above average in attendance;
- 98% of workers with disabilities rated average or better than average in safety with;
- No increase in compensation costs.
Statistics New Zealand, 2006
Office for Disability, 2008
Be.ready – The toolkit for business
Innov8 Consulting Group Disability Statistics Chart
For further information:
+64 (0)21 324463