Message from Premier Helen Zille on International Day for People with Disabilities
International Day of People with Disabilities is an important day for celebrating inclusivity and celebrating everyone’s contribution to building one nation with one future. I grew up in a family with disability: my granny was deaf and my sister is deaf, so I know what the challenges are facing those living with disabilities and those close to them.
The biggest disability is the attitude of society when it excludes people with disabilities. We can defeat this and we must defeat it together. I am very committed to the cause of creating opportunities for the disabled.
We are spending far too much money on preventable conditions which are mainly due to alcohol abuse, drugs, unsafe sex and unhealthy eating. Most of the health budget goes into treating these preventable conditions and illnesses, which doesn’t leave much money left for treating unpreventable conditions. When we spend money on one thing, it means we can’t spend it on another and right now our priorities are skewed because they mean that people with disabilities often end up at the back of the queue to access opportunities and resources to assist with their conditions.
Our message to society must be this: "Look after yourself. Not only is it good for you but it is also your responsibility to others in society". Only in this way can we make sure that everyone can live a life they value with freedom they can use.