New Disability Rights Commissioner, Paula Tesoriero has been at the Commission for almost two months now and is already making an impact.
Since starting at the Commission in late July, Paula Tesoriero has been working hard to achieve better outcomes for disabled kiwis – meeting with, and listening to, people with disabilities and those in the disability sector and beyond is an important part of this as is meeting with decision-makers
The Disability Rights Commissioner says understanding the broad range of issues faced by the community and the outcomes they would like to see, has allowed her team to start developing clear strategic priorities for the portfolio.
“I’ve certainly not wasted in time in meeting with the people and groups that I know will help us to shape and deliver a programme of work that will shift the dial for disabled people in New Zealand,” Ms Tesoriero says.
“It’s been important for me to not only listen to their thoughts and ideas about what we can do better, but to also work on building ongoing and lasting relationships that will help to keep the rights of disabled people front and centre for decision makers.
“Already, I’ve met with a wide range of people and organisations including DPOs, government agencies, service providers, the Ombudsman, Children’s Commissioner, Mental Health Commissioner, most political parties, and the Minister for Disability Issues.
“Through all this interaction, I’ve developed a good understanding of the key issues for people with disability which include, but are not limited to, the need for accessible housing, employment issues, inclusive education, support for families and accessibility in terms of infrastructure and transport as well as access to information for blind and deaf people.
“I am also hearing that there are some big gaps in data which makes it difficult to provide services and get evidence to support the case for change in particular areas,” Ms Tesoriero says.
The Commissioner and the Commission’s Disability Rights team are working to use what they have heard and learned over the past couple of months to inform their own long-term priorities, which they hope to outline in the coming weeks.
They are also preparing to brief the incoming Government on issues relating to disability as well as planning for activities around International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which occurs on 3 December every year. Finally, work on preparations for the upcoming four-yearly UN review of New Zealand’s compliance with the Conventions on the Rights of People with Disabilities is well underway
“My team and I know we have plenty of work ahead of us, but the passion of people and groups we have meet with is incredibly invigorating. I’m really excited about what we can achieve for New Zealand’s disabled community,” Ms Tesoriero says.