December, 2010
ISSN 1174-9245
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Fighting for disability rights

Judy McGregor EEO commissioner

Judy McGregor EEO commissioner

Disabled people continue to have to fight for their rights because society denies them justice, respect and a fair go.

Recently at the fantastic DPA Conference held in Invercargill (congratulations, DPA!) I was asked whether the Human Rights Commission thought it was acceptable that disabled people should have to struggle through mediation and litigation, often for many years with added emotional stress and financial hardship?

Of course, the Human Rights Commission does not think this is acceptable. We acknowledge the amazing sacrifice of  those who fight for the rights of disabled people and offer as much support as we can in the process.

Without those truly courageous disabled people who are prepared to fight, societal attitudes will never change, remedies will not be available to those who have suffered human rights abuses, and government responses and service delivery will never improve.

In this edition of Manahau we feature a disability rights and accommodation case in which Justice was done. It relates to Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This states that State Parties shall ensure that “private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accountability for persons with disabilities”.

Can I wish all Manahau readers and their families and supporters very warm Christmas greetings on behalf of staff, managers and Commissioners of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. I would like to especially thank Victoria Manning for her great work writing Manahau in 2010.

Nga mihi mo te Kirihimete.

J McGregor's signature

 Judy McGregor

A case of puppy Justice

Justice, the puppy

Justice, the puppy

Tauranga woman Laura Eitjes found herself in the limelight last year when she set out on an unintended journey towards justice. While holidaying in 2007, Laura and her friend’s stay at a North Island holiday accommodation was cut short when Laura (legally blind since the age of 17) was told her guide dog could no longer stay in her room.

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Human Rights Commission gets bigger disability role

Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Human Rights Commissioner

Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Human Rights Commissioner

The Government has announced it will establish a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner within the Human Rights Commission. It also announced that the Commission will be part of the independent monitoring of the Disability Convention.

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Nicola Owen welcomed to the Human Rights Commission

Nicola Owen (right) and Shae Ronald

Nicola Owen (right) and Shae Ronald

Nicola Owen, from Auckland Disability Law, has started work at the Human Rights Commission on a six-month secondment (short-term contract). Ms Owen will be supporting the Commission’s disability programme work, including organising community meetings on the Disability Convention. Information from these meetings will then be used for the Commission’s independent report to the United Nations on the Disability Convention, due in 2011. 

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Talking with disabled people

A New Zealand Sign Langauge sign for "talk"

A New Zealand Sign Langauge sign for "talk"

The Human Rights Commission wants to meet with disabled people to hear their stories and to make sure disabled people’s voices are included in its work. This work includes updating the Human Rights Action Plan and the Commission’s independent report to the United Nations on the Disability Convention.

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Disabled people losing out in job market

Disabled people have more difficulties getting and keeping work. They are often in jobs below their skill level, and  are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. These findings are part of a report from the Human Rights Commission called “What Next? National Conversations about Work” which has a focus on disabled people and employment issues.

The report reveals that in the recent economic downturn, disabled people have experienced high levels of unemployment and redundancy.  

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Government must employ more disabled people

The Disability Convention lists employing more disabled people in the public sector as an important part of ensuring disabled people’s right to work. Article 27 of the Disability Convention bluntly tells governments to “employ persons with disabilities in the public sector”.

As New Zealand’s largest employer and signatory to the Disability Convention, the Government should serve as a good model for private-sector employers.

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Disabled young people need more services

Disabled young people are almost twice as likely as young non-disabled people to leave school without a qualification.

One of the biggest issues facing disabled young people and their parents is the need for planned transitions from school to work, tertiary education or training and other meaningful day-time activities. The Journey to Work document calls for a national transition planning process for young disabled people.

A recommendation of the National Conversation about Work report was that every young New Zealander should have an individual youth-to-work plan. The report found that services are failing too many young people who are not well prepared for their first job.

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New Employers Disability Network up for the challenge

Anne Hawker

Anne Hawker

A new network to promote best practice in employing disabled people needs to define actions and targets to ensure it can be effective.

The Employers’ Disability Network aims to assist employers to become confident at hiring disabled people, and to recruit and retain disabled people in jobs.

The Network is holding their first strategic meeting early in 2011 to identify their next steps and priorities. Some clear data and targets are needed to help get more disabled people into work and make sure disabled people retain their jobs.

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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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