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Newsletters > Manahau: Resilience and Celebration > 2010 > July

Manahau: Resilience and Celebration

ISSN 1174-9245 July, 2010

Message from the Chief Commissioner

Rosslyn Noonan Chief Human Rights Commissioner

Rosslyn Noonan Chief Human Rights Commissioner

EEO Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor will be leading the Human Rights Commission’s work on the rights of disabled people for the year ahead. This is a priority area for me as Chief Commissioner. I will be working alongside Judy and continuing to be actively involved. We will be supported by Commissioner Richard Tankersley. We have asked him, as a first priority, to assist with the establishment of a network of Maori disabled people to ensure a strong indigenous dimension to the Commission’s work on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Richard will also work on the establishment of a Pacific Group.

A further signal of the priority the Commission places on this work is the high level staff involvement, including Executive Director, Joanna Collinge; Manager Strategic Policy Susan Freeman Greene; Manager External Relations, Shae Ronald; Kaiwhakariti Hemi Pirihi; and of course, Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor, Bruce Coleman and Victoria Manning, Advisor.

We will keep you up to date as we develop plans for engagement throughout New Zealand.

R Noonan's signature

Rosslyn Noonan

="attachment_7064" align="alignleft" width="160" caption="Rosslyn Noonan Chief Human Rights Commissioner"]Rosslyn Noonan Chief Human Rights Commissioner[/caption]

EEO Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor will be leading the Human Rights Commission's work on the rights of disabled people for the year ahead. This is a priority area for me as Chief Commissioner. I will be working alongside Judy and continuing to be actively involved. We will be supported by Commissioner Richard Tankersley. We have asked him, as a first priority, to assist with the establishment of a network of Maori disabled people to ensure a strong indigenous dimension to the Commission's work on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Richard will also work on the establishment of a Pacific Group.

A further signal of the priority the Commission places on this work is the high level staff involvement, including Executive Director, Joanna Collinge; Manager Strategic Policy Susan Freeman Greene; Manager External Relations, Shae Ronald; Kaiwhakariti Hemi Pirihi; and of course, Senior Monitoring & Evaluation Advisor, Bruce Coleman and Victoria Manning, Advisor.

We will keep you up to date as we develop plans for engagement throughout New Zealand.

R Noonan's signature

Rosslyn Noonan

Power to the people…

Judy McGregor EEO commissioner

Dr Judy McGregor EEO commissioner

Congratulations to People First NZ and the other members of the public who fought and won a battle over broadcaster Paul Henry calling singer Susan Boyle a “retard”. The Commission is delighted that the Broadcasting Standards Authority’s (BSA) very strong decision recognised that people with intellectual disabilities deserved respect and dignity. That’s the good news.

Television New Zealand broadcast a prepared statement on the Breakfast programme on Monday 26 July. And that’s the bad news. In my opinion, the nature of the statement was profoundly disappointing. Television New Zealand abandoned its celebrity status promotion of presenters and referred throughout to an unnamed “presenter”. There was no apology and nor was the statement available on its website content.

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The Commission is providing Manahau subscribers with the full text of the statement so that members of the disability community can promote it widely among their networks. We have taken the liberty of adding the presenter's name [Paul Henry] in brackets.

Last year during 'What's In The Mags', Breakfast screened comments about the singer Susan Boyle. The comments were made by a Breakfast presenter [Paul Henry] and concerned Ms Boyle's intellectual disability.

TVNZ upheld viewers' complaints that the comments breached the broadcasting standard requiring Good Taste and Decency. The presenter [Paul Henry] also made a public statement saying he had not intended to cause offence.

Eleven complainants were not satisfied with the action taken by TVNZ, and referred their complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The Authority agreed with the complainants, finding that TVNZ had taken insufficient action to remedy the breach of standards. It noted that no statement or apology had been made on the Breakfast programme, and that the presenter's [Paul Henry's] public statement was inconsistent with his comments and behaviour in the item.

The Authority said that to mock and belittle a person on account of her intellectual disability was contrary to common decency and a clear breach of the Good Taste and Decency standard.

The Authority ordered Television New Zealand to broadcast this statement.

While the broadcast statement was weak, the BSA decision is a landmark decision and is worth reading in full. Here it is at http://www.bsa.govt.nz/decisions/2010/2010-001.htm

J McGregor's signature

Judy McGregor

Professor Ron McCallum

Professor Ron McCallum

A visiting United Nations expert wants disabled people to put pressure on the Government to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Governments are responsible for making sure the Disability Convention is implemented, but government action depends on disabled people voicing their desires. “We are each responsible to make sure the Disability Convention happens,” said Professor Ron McCallum, the Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, on a recent visit to New Zealand hosted by the Human Rights Commission.

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The UN Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Disability Convention by States Parties. Ron McCallum is also professor at the University of Sydney Law School and is the first totally blind person to be appointed to a full professorship in Australia.

During his New Zealand visit, Professor McCallum met with government officials and community people to share information and discuss issues around monitoring the Disability Convention.

He said no country yet had a robust and comprehensive system of collecting information and statistics about disabled people's rights. This information is essential to knowing how the Disability Convention is working.

Professor McCallum believes the most important aspect of the Disability Convention is its reliance on the social model of disability. This model states that people who have impairments are a natural part of our human diversity and that society creates barriers by not considering all people when designing buildings, websites, policies, etc. This view clarifies that government and society must commit to removing the barriers they create, so that all people can participate.

Asked about his hopes and aspirations for the Disability Convention, Professor McCallum said, "It's my hope that all nations ratify the Convention and fully implement it to improve the lives of 650 million persons in our world with disabilities".

Hon Tariana Turia Minister for Disability Issues

Hon Tariana Turia Minister for Disability Issues

The Human Rights Commission will receive an extra $300,000 per year to promote, protect and monitor the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Minister for Disability Issues, Tariana Turia, attended a disability community meeting at the Human Rights Commission to make a special Budget day announcement on 20th May.

The extra funding will enable the Commission to increase its advocacy for disabled people’s rights. It will help enable the Commission to act as an independent, public advocate to promote awareness of disabled people’s rights and help monitor the Disability Convention.

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The Commission's extra funding is part of the Government's investment of $2.34 million over the next three years to help promote, protect and monitor the rights of people with disabilities.

The Disability Convention, which was ratified by New Zealand in 2008, recommends a framework for promoting and monitoring disabled peoples' rights. This framework must include at least one mechanism independent of government. The Minister's announcement stated that the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsmen will have an active role as part of this independent mechanism, along with disabled people's organisations.

The Government has also committed $750,000 to resource a network of disabled people's organisations to monitor disabled people's experience in living their life and the difficulties they encounter, such as with accessing government services (including disability supports). A qualitative research and monitoring programme will be established, overseen by the Disability Rights Promotion International Project based at York University in Canada.

The Commission is currently meeting with the Office of the Ombudsmen and the Disability Convention Coalition of disabled NGOs to coordinate the respective monitoring roles. The Commission is also developing internal proposals for how the Commission will undertake this additional work.

New Zealand's first report to the UN on Convention implementation is due in October 2010.

Read Minister Turia's Budget day announcements about disability funding: "$93 million more for disability support services" and "$6.8 million to improve the lives of disabled NZers", and a fact sheet about funding to improve attitudes to disabled people.

Haere rā to Commissioner Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt

Robyn Hunt’s term as a part-time Commissioner finished at the end of June. Over the years, Robyn has made a huge contribution to the Commission and to improving rights for disabled New Zealanders.

“As Commissioner over the last eight years, I have been very lucky to have taken part in the ground-breaking development and New Zealand’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities,” Robyn says. “I was privileged to have this opportunity and it was an amazing experience.”

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There were many other highlights, including working on the Accessible Land Transport Enquiry and nationwide consultations to develop the 2005 Action Plan for Human Rights. "I've been paid to do what I love to do and to work with a fantastic bunch of people," says Robyn.

I've also had the pleasure of seeing the disability community grow in strength and confidence".

Robyn believes that while there have been huge advances in the rights of disabled people in New Zealand, there are still bigger battles ahead. "We need to change people's attitudes about disability, ensure a decent standard of living and address issues for disabled women and Māori and Pacific peoples who have disabilities."

The Commission retains disability as an important priority in developing the next human rights action plan and implementation and monitoring of the Disability Convention.

And, what's next for Robyn Hunt? "I will still be working in human rights as I continue to chair the Commission's Disability Reference Group. I'll still be involved in disability advocacy. I'm looking forward to working full-time on my communications company AccEase, that works to increase access to information for disabled people."

hrc-review-of-human-rights-picThe Commission is reviewing human rights in New Zealand. In 2004, the Commission published Human Rights in New Zealand Today, which formed the basis for the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights 2005-2010 – Mana i ki te Tangata. The action plan has led the direction of the Commission’s work as a human rights guardian and advocate.

The Commission is now checking on progress. Where has New Zealand done well and where could the country do better to ensure a fair, safe and just society?

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Draft chapters on specific issues have been released for public feedback. Each draft chapter concerns a major human rights issue in New Zealand as identified by the Commission and concludes with recommendations to address the issues.

The Human Rights Commission received 29 submissions on its draft chapter on the rights of disabled people. Submissions were received from a diverse range of organisations and individuals with an interest in improving human rights for disabled New Zealanders.

Submissions on the draft disability chapter are being considered by the Commission and the Commission's Disability Reference Group.

The Commission will provide updates and progress in developing the action plan that will be developed from the review report.

If you would like more information on the disability chapter, please contact Bruce Coleman BruceC@hrc.co.nz or Victoria Manning VictoriaM@hrc.co.nz.

You can read about the other draft chapters on the Commission's website, including the Right to Education, the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living and Human Rights and Women.

Deaf education discussion

The Ministry of Education (the Ministry) is considering ways to improve specialist education services for deaf and hearing impaired children and young people.

The Human Rights Commission made a submission on the Ministry’s Deaf Education Discussion. The Commission supports Deaf Education Aotearoa New Zealand’s view that current education services are not integrated and equitable.

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The Commission consulted with Deaf community organisations and civil society groups in developing its submission. The Commission recommended changes that will fulfil aspirations of those most involved in ensuring any new options work.

The Commission's submission called on the Ministry to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - the Education Article and the wider sign language and Deaf culture provisions.

The Human Rights Commission is continuing work to help make sure whānau hauā, Māori disabled people, are involved in implementing and monitoring the Disability Convention.

If you are interested in this work or would like to be added to the Commission’s Māori Disabled contact list, please email Bruce Coleman BruceC@hrc.co.nz or Victoria Manning VictoriaM@hrc.co.nz or phone Bruce on (03) 353 0952.

ights Commission is continuing work to help make sure whānau hauā, Māori disabled people, are involved in implementing and monitoring the Disability Convention.

If you are interested in this work or would like to be added to the Commission's Māori Disabled contact list, please email Bruce Coleman BruceC@hrc.co.nz or Victoria Manning VictoriaM@hrc.co.nz or phone Bruce on (03) 353 0952.

Asia Pacific OutGames 2011

outgames-pic-july-2010As an integral part of the Asia Pacific OutGames March 2011, in Wellington, the organisers are hosting a three-day human rights conference.

Expressions of interest are sought from people who have proposals to contribute to the conference. This could include showcasing work, organising a presentation, or being part of a panel discussion. For more information, go to the OutGames website: www.wellingtonoutgames.com.

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Proposals are due by 30 September 2010. The conference will be held at the Wellington Town Hall, which has wheelchair access. Sign language interpreters will be booked. Please let the conference organisers know if you need them or if you have any other disability access requirements.

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission is supporting the conference and will be participating and running a forum on making human rights a reality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, fa'afafine, trans and intersex people. This forum is based on the Yogyakarta Principles, a universal guide to sexual orientation and gender identity human rights.

To register for the forum, register for the conference then contact Naomi Taylor at the Human Rights Commission (naomit@hrc.co.nz) to state you are interested in the Commission's forum. You can also register for OutGames email updates on the conference website.

This is a unique opportunity to meet people working in human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity in the Asia Pacific region. Come along and take part! We hope to see you there.