November and December 2022: Key Messages from DPO Coalition

Minister for Disability Issues.

The DPO Coalition met with Hon Poto Williams, Minister for Disability Issues. The Coalition thanked the Minister for her proactive response to the concluding observations made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They then discussed how to implement the recommendations and embed the principles of the Disability Convention across government.

The Coalition raised strong concerns that proposed amendments to Hate Speech legislation did not extend to protecting disabled people.

The recent consultation on the New Zealand Sign Language Amendment Act was discussed. The DPO Coalition expressed concerns about the consultation process and questioned whether the community had been provided with enough information to make an informed decision.

Human Rights Commission.

Saunoamaali’I Dr Karanina Sumeo, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner and Acting Disability Rights Commissioner, met with the DPO Coalition. They discussed a nationwide survey that was completed for the Human Rights Commission about people’s experiences of workplace bullying and harassment in Aotearoa. The Coalition was concerned to hear that disabled workers experience higher rates of workplace sexual harassment, racial harassment and bullying than non-disabled workers. The impact of harassment and bullying can be significant and there are gaps in New Zealand’s law around recognising this harm.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The DPO Coalition met with officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to discuss their work to improve building accessibility. The Coalition discussed barriers to accessibility and how to engage disabled people in this ongoing project. They also discussed a concluding observation from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Crown Response to the Abuse in Care Inquiry.

Officials from the Crown Response to the Abuse in Care Inquiry met with the DPO Coalition. This was an opportunity to learn about the work done so far.

Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand Sign Language Act Amendments.

Recently there has been a consultation about amending the New Zealand Sign Language Act. The DPO Coalition met with officials to discuss the consultation. The Coalition was concerned about the scope and process of the consultation. In particular, the Coalition felt that people were only given information about one possible option (the creation of a ministerial advisory group) and should have been given more information about other options. Coalition members stated that additional information had been requested from officials but was not provided.

Anne Hawker.

The Coalition met with Anne Hawker, who was retiring from her role as Principal Disability Advisor at the Ministry of Social Development. The Coalition expressed our sincere appreciation to her for all of her work over the years.

Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health.

The DPO Coalition met with the team from Manatū Hauora who are responsible for policy and strategy related to the health of disabled people. Under the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Act, Manatū Hauora are required to produce six strategies, including a health of disabled people strategy. An interim Health of Disabled People strategy will be delivered in July 2023. The Coalition discussed how to include disabled people’s voices in this work.

Ministry of Social Development, Cost of living.

Officials from the Ministry of Social Development met with the Coalition to discuss their work on the living standards of disabled people. The Ministry of Social Development needs to transform its services to be in line with Enabling Good Lives principles. As part of this, they need to understand how disabled people interact with the welfare system, and how their living standards are experienced now.

Whaikaha – Office for Disability Issues.

The DPO Coalition met with officials from the Office for Disability Issues in November and December. They discussed the Ministerial Leadership Group on Disability Issues, monitoring the concluding observations from the United Nations committee, and reviewing progress against the Disability Action Plan.

Whaikaha, Ministry of Disabled People.

Paula Tesoriero, Chief Executive of Whaikaha, met with the DPO Coalition. She gave an update on recent developments at Whaikaha, including building the new Ministry, managing current supports delivered by Whaikaha, and thinking about transformation.

Whaikaha is continuing to recruit and in early 2023 there will be a significant recruitment drive. Disabled people are encouraged to apply.

$100million has been set aside on contingency to draw down to transform Disability Support Services in line with an Enabling Good Lives approach. Whaikaha intends to develop a business case for this by February.

The DPO Coalition and Paula also talked about their relationship going forward, and partnership with disabled people.

Independent Monitoring Mechanism.

The DPO Coalition works alongside the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman to monitor New Zealand’s implementation of the Disability Convention. Independent Monitoring Mechanism representatives reported back from their meeting with the Ministerial Leadership Group on Disability Issues. Nine ministers attended. Planning a way forward to implement the concluding observations was a focus of the discussion.
The Independent Monitoring Mechanism has since December, released an updated guide on reasonable accommodations. The updated guide is available in New Zealand Sign Language, Braille, Audio, Large Print and Easy Read. Take this link to read about Removing barriers: Reasonable accommodation of disabled people in Aotearoa | Ombudsman New Zealand.

Health Quality and Safety Commission.

The DPO Coalition met with an official from the Partners in Care team at the Health Quality and Safety Commission.

They discussed the objectives and role of the Commission under the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Act 2022. They discussed the work of the Commission to:

  • Grow and strengthen ngā pae hiranga, the Commission’s centre of excellence for whānau, consumer, and community voice
  • Support and grow a consumer forum which embeds and enables the consumer and whānau voice to be heard across the health system
  • Build consumer and whānau leadership and capability
  • Measure progress and respond to the consumer, whānau, and community experience of the health system.

The Commission has now finalized their Code of Expectations. This sets the expectations for how health entities must work with consumers, whānau and communities in the planning, design, delivery and evaluation of health services. 

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