Newsletter: Free speech, workplace family violence, the UN committee on women’s rights, Equality at Work in 2018

Newsletter: Free speech, workplace family violence, the UN committee on women’s rights, Equality at Work in 2018

August 17, 2018

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.

This issue covers the current free speech debate in New Zealand, the Commission’s family violence policy template and toolkit for employers, and an interactive tool for tracking workplace equality.



Janet Anderson-Bidois, chief legal adviser at the Human Rights Commission

Free speech, hate speech and the line between them

The view that free speech is under threat, and the line between free expression and hate speech have been much debated in the media, social media and around water coolers around New Zealand in recent weeks. This Dominion-Post article last weekend canvasses the views of some influential New Zealanders, including an excellent summary of the issues by the Commission's chief legal adviser Janet Anderson-Bidois.


Workplace family violence policy and toolkit for businesses

Workers suffering family violence cost New Zealand businesses an estimated $368 million in lost productivity in 2014 alone. The Human Rights Commission has released a model workplace family violence policy and toolkit alongside seven major New Zealand businesses – ANZ, Countdown, The Warehouse, Vodafone, EY, Ricoh and Fonterra. Read more about the policy and the toolkit here or check them out here. They’re ready to use. Tell your employer about them! 


New law supports worker victims of family violence

The workplace is often the only place family violence victims feels safe, Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says. “An employer with a family violence policy and practices, such as paid leave, can provide a forward path for family violence victims to gain confidence and break the abusive cycle.” Read more about the passage of an important new family violence law here.


Dr Jackie Blue, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner

UN committee calls for cross-party strategy to tackle violence against women

The UN committee on women’s rights has backed a call by the Commission and NGOs for New Zealand to adopt a long-term, cross-party strategy to combat violence against women. Read more here and watch EEO Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue’s presentation to the UN committee here.


Tracking Equality at Work 2018

The gender pay gap was at an all-time low of 9.2% in the June Quarter, but at the current rate it will take 40 years before the gap is closed. You can now track progress on employment, pay, leadership and discrimination stats on the HRC’s new Tracking Equality at Work interactive tool here and read the Commission's press release on the tool and the bi-annual Tracking Equality at Work report here. You can also download the Word version of the report here.


Paula Tesoriero, Acting Chief Commissioner and Disability Rights Commissioner

Commission challenges Shortland Street on Down syndrome info

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero this month challenged a Down syndrome storyline on the top-rating New Zealand drama Shortland Street. “It is concerning that the initial suggestion raised by a person playing a medical professional on the show at the possibility of having a child with Down syndrome is abortion.” Ms Tesoriero says it would have been useful to discuss the storyline with the disability community, not just health professionals, to get a more balanced picture of Down syndrome.

Check out this NZ Down Syndrome Association video produced in March to mark World Down Syndrome Day.


HRC welcomes plan to update sex details on birth certificates

The Human Rights Commission has welcomed the Governance Administration Select Committee approval of a human rights approach to simplifying the updating of sex details on birth certificates. By recommending a similar process to updating a passport or driver’s licence, it would bring New Zealand in line with international human rights law and with the Government’s own Rainbow Policy. Read more here.