United Nations Examination of New Zealand’s implementation of the Disability Convention.
In August New Zealand was examined by the United Nations on how it is implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The DPO Coalition appointed a delegation of five people and two meeting assistants to travel to Geneva. They represented Civil Society as well as being part of the Independent Monitoring Mechanism, which includes the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman. While in Geneva the DPO Coalition members also met with the International Disability Alliance, the International Labour Organisation, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. There will be more information in our next set of Key Messages about the delegation’s experiences.
Minister for Disability Issues.
The DPO Coalition was very pleased to meet with the new Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Poto Williams. The DPO Coalition explained their history, and their mandate under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They also discussed the upcoming select committee process for the proposed Accessibility Legislation. The DPO Coalition suggested to the Minister that the select committee process should be extended so that people have enough time to participate in a way that meets their needs. Whaikaha- Ministry of Disabled People was discussed, and the DPO Coalition said that they were looking forward to working closely with the new Ministry.
Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People.
The DPO Coalition met with the Interim Chief Executive of Whaikaha, Geraldine Woods. They discussed partnership with disabled people, and the importance of considering accessibility when the Ministry is purchasing new services. The need for clear, regular communication was emphasized, particularly around the rollout of Enabling Good Lives.
The DPO Coalition held a workshop about the digital divide. The digital divide is a phrase for people who can’t access the internet, for different reasons. A lot of content and services are moving online, so if people don’t have access they can be marginalized. The digital divide disadvantages disabled people. The DPO Coalition agreed a plan to advocate further on this issue.
Te Huia Bill Hamilton.
The DPO Coalition welcomed Te Huia Bill Hamilton. They discussed Te Tiriti and how to apply their learning to their work as a DPO Coalition.
Ministry of Social Development.
Officials from the Ministry of Social Development met with the DPO Coalition and explained the alternate formats group. The group facilitates information, advice and the coordination of five alternate formats – Easy Read, large print, New Zealand Sign Language, audio and braille. The group takes a two-pronged approach – it provides advice and facilitates the provision of alternate formats. We heard that it is important the documents are born accessible – this means, for example, using plain language, a minimum of sans serif font size 12, active words, structured headings and avoiding acronyms and abbreviations.
Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The DPO Coalition met with officials and a consultant who were working on the response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosques. They had a workshop to consider the question: “What does a diverse, inclusive and safe New Zealand look like?”.
Ministry of Education.
Julie Hook, Chief Adviser, updated the DPO Coalition on the Ministry’s work to refresh the curriculum and make it more inclusive. The DPO Coalition discussed the need for an inclusive education system, and how the curriculum could help to achieve this. The meaning of inclusive education was discussed and the DPO Coalition offered to share their previous work on this.
Office for Disability Issues.
The DPO Coalition met with officials from the Office for Disability Issues. They discussed the examination of New Zealand by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They also agreed to add a new action about protecting people from violence to the current Disability Action Plan and discussed the development of the next Disability Action Plan.
DPO Representatives to Community Steering Group – Gerri Pomeroy and Geneva Hakaraia-Tino, and Governance Group – Gerri Pomeroy.
Gerri and Geneva spoke about the focus of their representative roles and guidance given towards the Establishment Unit, and the new Ministry.