Kia ora koutou!
Welcome to the latest Human Rights Commission newsletter Tūrangawaewae – a summary of recent developments on the New Zealand human rights landscape, and the work the Commission is doing for a better, fairer New Zealand.
In this issue, we look at the human rights implications of the State Services Commission’s Inquiry into the Use of External Security Consultants, the pay gap for Pacific women in the public service, the need for transformational change in the education sector, the new Australian Modern Slavery Act, and more.
Breach of human rights highlights need for right to privacy protections
The findings from State Services Commission’s Inquiry into the Use of External Security Consultants shows the need for stronger protections to safeguard human rights, especially privacy says our Chief Legal Advisor Janet Anderson-Bidois. “The right to privacy is a fundamental human right. It is unacceptable for citizens to be subject to wrongful and unreasonable surveillance and other covert activity that breaches this right,” says Anderson-Bidois. She says the findings from the Inquiry are particularly disturbing as some of these activities were directed at claimants against the state. Read more here.
Pacific women paid the lowest in New Zealand’s public service
A pay gap of 21% for Pacific women working in the public service was alarming and needed to be addressed urgently said our Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo. Dr Sumeo was commenting on the findings in the State Services Commission’s “Our People: Public Service Workforce Data 2018” report. “The pay gap for Pacific women is alarming at 21%. Pacific women continue to receive the lowest increases in pay. It is also disturbing that the report makes no mention of a strategy in the Public Service to address this with urgency.” Read more here.
Transformational change needed to reform our education system
Earlier this month, the Tomorrows Schools Independent Taskforce released the “Our schooling futures: Stronger Together” report. Acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero says the recommendations in the report were an opportunity to create an education system that was innovative, flexible and focused on collaboration rather than in competition. She called on New Zealanders to provide feedback to the taskforce about their recommendations and is looking forward to seeing the “reforms deliver systemic change”. Read more here.
New law ensures big Kiwi businesses report on modern slavery risks
Over 500 New Zealand companies conducting business in Australia will be affected by a new Australian law. The Australian parliament earlier this month passed the Modern Slavery Act, which requires companies to publicly report on modern slavery risks in their supply chains. “Human rights lie at the heart of this Act as it requires businesses to understand their supply chain in a way they have not done before,” said our Research and Advisory Manager Rebekah Armstrong. Read more here.
New accessibility work programme important step in breaking down barriers
This month, the Government announced a new work programme focussing on achieving full accessibility for disabled people and other groups such as seniors, carers of young children, those with temporary injuries and people with English as a second language. Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero said the announcement paved the way forward to breaking down some of the barriers experienced by New Zealanders daily, in particular disabled New Zealanders. “Currently, they face a number of barriers which inhibit these rights. Accessibility benefits everyone.” Read more here.
Grace Millane’s death reminds us of the violence so many women in New Zealand face says our EEO Commissioner
EEO & Women’s Rights Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo urged New Zealanders to call out and stand up against gender-based violence in an op-ed published in the Spinoff. She challenged New Zealanders in response to the death of British backpacker Grace Millane. “Grace’s death reminds us of the very real dangers so many women face in New Zealand. We need to start taking action. Be bothered. Stand up. Speak out. Call out violence against women, when we see it, at every opportunity.” Read more here.
“Human rights declaration as relevant as ever at 70,” says acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner
Three New Zealanders helped bring about the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights, wrote Acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero in an op-ed which appeared in the NZ Herald. The 70th anniversary of the signing of this document was a useful moment to reflect on what New Zealand has achieved in terms of human rights and what more was needed to be done, Ms Tesoriero said. Read more here.
New Zealand needs to take a human-rights based approach
Our acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero talked about New Zealand’s significant human rights issues in the presence of United Nations member states in Geneva. Every five years, United Nations member states hear about the human rights issues facing New Zealanders and then make recommendations to the New Zealand Government about what needs to happen to address these issues. Ms Tesoriero said it was crucial New Zealand brought aspects of its human rights legislation and policy into line with international obligations. Read more here.
Having a voice: A conversation with Robert Martin
Our Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero caught up with disability rights advocate Robert Martin. Robert was the first person with a learning disability to be elected on to a UN Committee and earlier this year, he became the first person with a learning disability to chair a United Nations session. He talks about his own experience and advice for others wanting to get involved in advocating for disability rights. You can watch the video here.
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