Chief Executive’s Report
The past year, as with the previous 12 months, has been a successful time for Deaf Aotearoa, despite the difficult situation we have all faced working through the lingering pandemic. Our staff turnover remains low, as it traditionally has been. Our revenue has remained solid, and we have secured all existing contracts for services and been successful in all tender processes we have participated in. We have opened new offices in South Auckland, Dunedin and Hawke’s Bay and recently moved our National Office to new premises in Wellington.
We recently welcomed Lara Draper into the new role of General Manager – Adults & Seniors, and her impact has already been felt. Lara brings with her a long and varied history of working in organisations making a difference for Deaf people and as we place more focus on Deaf adults and senior citizens Lara will provide real strength to our work in this area.
It is pleasing to see the work commissioned by the NZSL Board on developing a Collective Impact approach within the Deaf community. There is an immense wealth of knowledge, skills and wisdom across the community and as this is harnessed, the outcomes for all will be enhanced.
The Deaf Way review that is being undertaken by Tricia Fitzgerald is drawing to a close and we look forward to the report which will capture the progress and achievements made over the past decade and make recommendations on areas for development and improvement. Thank you to all of you who have contributed to this work.
I would like to thank two people whom I have worked alongside for many years and who have departed in the past year. Oliver Ferguson served the community with distinction on the Executive Board for 10 years, the last five years as president, the longest term of any Deaf Aotearoa president in history. Whilst he had a public-facing role, meeting with prime ministers, ministers and visiting overseas dignitaries, his contribution was often also behind the scenes, carried out in a humble, respectful and effective manner. He was also well regarded internationally and established strong links, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Victoria Manning left us earlier this year to take on a senior manager role with the Ministry of Justice, after six years with Deaf Aotearoa. Victoria’s advocacy work was outstanding on many levels and her vision that Deaf people should be treated equitably and given the same opportunities as everyone else ensured her efforts were focussed on creating sustainable change. The results of her work will be evident for many years to come.
Our dear colleague and friend Lisa Alexander passed away in October, after a courageous 19-month battle with cancer. Lisa worked with us for eight years and touched all of us with her kindness, sense of humour, positivity and overall ability to contribute to Deaf Aotearoa’s success. Lisa’s legacy lives on and we benefit from her work every day.
Our staff who come to work every day, determined to succeed and deliver outstanding results deserve our praise. With over 50% of our staff being from the Deaf community, and many more having worked at Deaf Aotearoa for a decade or more, our workforce is committed, knowledgeable and capable of providing bespoke solutions to our diverse Deaf community.
Our two boards, the Executive Board and the Deaf Aotearoa Holdings board, govern Deaf Aotearoa with care, skill and wisdom. They work many hours, providing advice, monitoring performance, offering solutions and ensuring the long-term sustainability of Deaf Aotearoa.
We must acknowledge David McKee who has given five year’s outstanding service to Deaf Aotearoa as chair of the DAHL Board. A knowledgeable, passionate and committed member of the Deaf community, David always ensured we kept Deaf people forefront of mind in our decision making.
The recently announced transformation of the disability system, along with confirmation that the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill will be introduced, provides us with confidence that Deaf people will soon have full access and greater opportunities. The establishment of a new ministry for disabled people will place issues that are important to Deaf people on the table for discussion at the highest level. The national rollout of Enabling Good Lives will open up new opportunities for Deaf people to access services in new and different ways.
2022 is sure to be another year of change, challenge and opportunity – I look forward to driving Deaf Aotearoa on its ongoing journey of development, growth and success.