December, 2009
ISSN 1174-9245
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Editorial

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt

Today is the UN International Day of Disabled People, a day for celebration, action for change and to promote better understanding of disability issues. In this issue we note both progress and problems.

A Celebration of the launch of the Bankers Association Guidelines for the banking industry on providing service for older and disabled customers began the week on a positive note.

We talk to Maori disabled leaders about their issues, and what the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People means to them. The Commission is building networks with Maori disabled people so our disability human rights work is inclusive

Complaints numbers remain high and we look at issues for Deaf New Zealanders through the National Conversation about work. There are updates on the Human Rights Action Plan, and the development of a New Zealand Sign Language Strategy.

We wish you a happy and safe holiday period and may 2010 be a notable year for human rights progress!

Banking guidelines launched

Sarah Mehrtens & Robyn Hunt

Sarah Mehrtens & Robyn Hunt

The New Zealand Bankers’ Association has launched new voluntary customer service guidelines to assist banks to provide better service to disabled and older customers.

Human Rights Commissioner Robyn Hunt and Bankers Association Chief Executive Sarah Mehrtens launched the guidelines on 30 November at Deaf Aotearoa NZ’s national office.

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Indigenous disabled people and the Disability Convention

Gary Williams

Gary Williams

Ko Marotiri te maunga
Ko Mangahauini te awa
Ko Te Whanau-a-Ruataupare te hapu
Ko Ngati Porou te iwi

Gary Williams is departing after almost 11 years leading the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA). In this article Gary reflects on one of the highlights of his work as DPA’s CEO and how this is relevant today.

Indigenous disabled peoples’ issues are receiving more and more attention, helped by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Gary participated in meetings at the United Nations headquarters in New York when the Disability Convention was being negotiated, from 2003-2006. Gary says, “New Zealand worked hard to get the Disability Convention to recognise indigenous disabled peoples’ issues.”

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Human Rights Commission working with Māori disabled people

The Human Rights Commission has begun working with Māori disabled people to develop a partnership to promote and monitor the implementation of the Disability Convention.

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Dr Huhana Hickey: empowering disabled people through the law

Dr Huhana Hickey

Dr Huhana Hickey

Ko Karioi toku maunga
Ko Whaingaroa toku moana
Ko Pukerewa me Weraroa marae
Ko Ngati Tahinga toku hapu
Ko Waikato toku iwi
Ko Tainui toku waka
Ko Huhana Hickey toku ingoa

Dr Huhana Hickey is a lawyer and works at Auckland Disability Law Services. One of her passions is teaching disabled people about the law so they can feel empowered to advocate for themselves. Her job gives her an excellent opportunity to do this.

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Disability complaints remain high

The Human Rigths Commission’s Annual Report 2009 shows there has been little or no improvement in human rights for disabled people. An analysis of complaints received by the Commission shows a continuing pattern of difficulties faced by disabled people.

Of all complaints received by the Commission over the last year, a total of 30.6% were about disability discrimination. This is slightly higher than the previous two years (28.7% in 2006-7, and 26.8% in 2007-8). Disability discrimination is the single largest category of complaints received by the Commission.

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Barriers to Work for Deaf and disabled people

The Human Rights Commission has a project to promote and protect equal employment opportunities (EEO) in New Zealand. This is the National Conversation About Work project. As part of this work the Commission’s EEO team are meeting people around the country to discuss fairness at work.

In October, Commission staff visited the Hawke’s Bay region, where they met members of the Deaf community and disabled people.

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Violence against disabled people is never OK

Wendi Wicks, Minister Pansy Wong, Robyn Hunt & Brian Gardner

Wendi Wicks, Minister Pansy Wong, Robyn Hunt & Brian Gardner

New Zealand’s first Disability Clothesline project was launched on 25 November, White Ribbon Day. This is a visible statement of the “silent epidemic” of abuse and violence against disabled people in New Zealand.

Pansy Wong, Associate Minister of Disability Issues, launched the project in Wellington. The clothesline is strung with t-shirts that showcase messages by disabled people who have been hurt, or in some cases murdered.

This project complements the White Ribbon Day message that violence against women is not OK.

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New Zealand Sign Language “strategy” – update

New Zealand Sign Language

New Zealand Sign Language

Discussions about how to plan for the promotion and maintenance of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) have been taking place, with the support of the Human Rights Commission.

Deaf community stakeholders have identified serious barriers to language rights for deaf people. Many of these problems are not being addressed by the NZSL Act 2006.

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Human Rights Action Plan – update

Wheelchair basketball

Wheelchair basketball

The Human Rights Commission is starting work on a new Human Rights Action Plan for the next five years.

In 2003, the Human Rights Commission talked to people all over New Zealand to find out what were the most important human rights issues they faced. Human Rights in New Zealand Today was published in 2004, followed by the Action Plan 2005-2010, which included a chapter on disabled people.

The Commission is updating information on human rights in NZ for the new Action Plan 2010-2015.

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For more information about the Disability Rights, please contact Chris Potts at chrisp@hrc.co.nz

Further Information is also available from our website

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