I look forward to meeting and talking to our many stakeholders and partners over the coming months, and those who are at the forefront of equalities policy and campaign development in Wales.
It is undoubtedly an important time as we are experiencing a number of significant changes across the equality and inclusion landscape in Wales. We have many achievements of which we can feel rightfully proud but there are also a number of new challenges on the horizon we need to tackle, and initiatives we need to progress.
I am delighted the specific public sector equality duties for Wales had a successful passage through the Assembly during the last Assembly Term, making the Welsh Government the first Government to bring its duties into force. These will help us promote equality, tackle discrimination and prejudice and help build a fair and tolerant society in Wales.
I look forward to seeing their successful implementation over the coming months. I want these duties to make a positive difference to the people of Wales. I want people who feel undervalued or discriminated against to see real improvements in the way they live their lives. I want the most vulnerable in our society to feel included and part of the world we are creating. I believe these new duties can make that difference a reality.
We are living through difficult economic times and must work hard to ensure we continue to drive forward the agenda of equality of outcome and opportunity and help build a fairer and more inclusive society. I was pleased to publish an assessment of equality impacts on the Draft Budget 2011/12 in February which recognised both the reducing budget and the potential negative impact that this may have on equality groups.
This was the first time the Welsh Government (or any other administration) had carried out such a detailed assessment of its Draft Budget and one that was developed within the context of the UK Government's Spending Review, significant spending cuts and the setting of budgets for the next three years. Work is already in hand to ensure that equality impacts are taken into account in respect of the 2012/13 Draft Budget.
We have a lot of work to do and my immediate priority, along with other relevant Welsh public authorities, will be to develop our programme of work in fulfilment of our responsibilities under the new equality legislation. I hope to have the opportunity to get out and about across Wales during the new Assembly Term, meeting with as many of you as possible. I want to hear more about what really matters to you and how the Welsh Government can make a positive difference in driving forward the equality, diversity and inclusion agenda.