Around 24 percent of all New Zealanders have a disability. Many of these people are unable to participate fully in the community because of barriers they face on a daily basis. These barriers range from physical barriers, such as the ability to access a building or cross a road with ease, to attitudinal barriers imposed by others. The New Zealand Government (along with the governments of many other countries) has agreed to follow the Disability Convention. To meet the obligations of the convention the New Zealand Government adopted the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026 and the Disability Action Plan 2019-2023 Whilst there is no legal requirement for local authorities to give effect to these documents, the strategy and action plan does acknowledge that local authorities have a significant impact on the lives of disabled people by the decisions they make. We agree with this view and for that reason, in 2012 the Thames-Coromandel District Council decided to develop a Disability Strategy for our District. In 2020, Council resolved to retain the strategy. Although we recognise that as Council we have a significant impact on the lives of disabled people, we also acknowledge that there are many positive and meaningful services being provided already by community and social organisations within the local disability sector. We would like to work alongside existing service and support providers to improve accessibility for disabled people in our District and better enable their full participation in society by addressing barriers where they exist. Disabled people have the same basic rights and freedoms belonging to all people - to be treated fairly and equally, with respect and dignity. Everyone has a right to: Be safe and protected from hurt Make their own decisions Have a good life Be involved in their community and society. We recognise that as a local governing body, we have a part to play in upholding the rights of disabled people in our communities. This strategy has been developed collaboratively with a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations in the local disability sector, including individuals whom have lived experience of disability. We value and consider this input essential to the development of our Disability Strategy to ensure it is relevant and will make a meaningful difference for disabled people in the Thames-Coromandel District. The strategy will be used to guide Council decisions on considering the impacts on people with disabilities. It can also be used by community groups implementing initiatives that enhance the wellbeing of people with disabilities.