200 international politicians, NGO representatives, people with disability and academics gather at the Zero Conference in Vienna (Zero = no barriers).
On January 22 and 23, 2012 the International Conference on Good Policies for Persons with Disabilities takes place for the first time in Vienna, Austria. It is part of the Zero Project – zero as in zero barriers over 250 stakeholders from all over the world. Future legislation for a better world is the main theme. The conference is organised by the Essl Foundation in cooperation with the World Future Council and its founder Jakob von Uexkull, as well as by UniCredit Bank Austria.
One of eight selected laws: the Swedish Act Concerning Support and Service to Persons with Certain Functional Impairments
Already since 1993 Sweden legally entitles persons with extensive disabilities to cash payments for the purchase of self-directed personal assistance services. The Act concerning Support and Service to Persons with Certain Functional Impairments sets out the right for persons with considerable and permanent functional impairments to “good” as opposed to basic living conditions through the provision of ten measures for special support. One of the measures constitutes the right to personal assistance, setting the foundation for a demand-driven and competitive personal assistance market.
“Independent Living means having the same range of options and the same degree of self-determination that non-disabled people take for granted,” explains Adolf Ratzka, Founder of the Institute on Independent Living. “The Act needs to be further developed: recent restrictive court interpretations highlight the need for re-formulating its original intent and to expand its scope. Especially during the present European Year for Solidarity amongst Generations and Active Ageing we need to promote a wider independence of elderly people from institutionalized living.”
This law, especially its most important aspects, will be discussed at the Zero Conference in Vienna by Adolf Ratzka in view to develop model legislation. Participating in the workshop will be Jamie Bolling – ENILs Executive Director who says, “Initiatives like the Zero Conference are important even more so now during times of cuts or barriers affecting people with disability throughout Europe. We depend upon good legislation and respect for our rights to be able to live lives with full participation in our democratic societies.”
The Zero Project: establishment as long-term think tank
The aim of the Zero Project is to be a leading international think tank for the elimination of barriers in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in May 2008. This is to be achieved by regular publication of a novel international comparative study, the so called Zero Report, congresses like the current Zero Conference and a comprehensive website. The Zero Project website at www.zeroproject.org will be officially launched at the conference in January 2012 and will have a focus on the Good Practices and Good Policies identified in the current Zero Report. As an interactive platform for persons with disabilities, NGOs, policymakers, research and business, the page will facilitate a variety of forms of participation.
The Essl Foundation was established in March 2008. It has been endowed with adequate financial resources to ensure the long-term presentation of the annual Essl Social Prize and support of other social activities, such as the Zero Project. Its main goals are to provide support to persons in need, and to raise public awareness about the need for such support.
The World Future Council established by Jakob von Uexkull, consists of 50 respected personalities from all five continents. They represent governments, parliaments, the arts, civil society, science and the business world. The WFC conducts worldwide research on future just policies and legislation, advises political decision-makers, offers them tried and tested courses of action and supports them in the concrete implementation of new policies. The WFC is currently active in the areas of Future Justice, Climate and Energy, Sustainable Ecosystems, Sustainable Economies, Just Societies as well as Peace and Disarmament.
Bank Austria has been a member of UniCredit, one of the largest European bank groups, since 2005 and employs 10,900 people in 372 locations in Austria (including the subsidiaries of the UniCredit Group in Austria). In addition to sponsoring activities in the areas of culture, sustainability and sports, the bank’s social contribution is reflected in its involvement with disadvantaged persons.
Office of Coordination
Zero Conference Press Relations
Tel: +43 664 1059185
ENIL – Executive Director
Ms. Jamie Bolling