Another four weeks have gone by and I’ve now been in the role of Disability Rights Commissioner for almost two months. This follows my first update one month into the role.
It’s continued to be a busy time meeting with people in the disability sector including DPOs, government agencies, service providers, and advocates about key issues and how we can work together to achieve better outcomes for disabled Kiwis. This has included discussions with Local Government New Zealand about increasing access for disabled people, particularly in relation to cities, including public transport, and meeting with a group of young disabled New Zealanders to talk about what life is like for them and their ideas about what needs to happen to ‘shift the dial’ for young disabled people.
Alongside this, I’ve been speaking out about accessible housing at a hui run by DPA, data about the disabled workforce, for which I did a video with Stats NZ, and the need to not assume disabled people can’t be successful or that disability has a certain 'look'. There is also an article about me and my aspirations for the role in Woman’s Weekly next week and an article introducing me and the role in Parent to Parent’s quarterly magazine.
New Zealand Sign Language has been in the spotlight this month and there has been a lot of traction made in increasing access to information for sign language users. A sign language-interpreted version of the final leaders’ debate is now available on TVNZ on demand.
The team and I have spent quite a bit of time shaping the strategic priorities for the disability portfolio over the next 3-5 years. Talking to a wide range of people and organisations about key issues, really helped our thinking so many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to meet with me. I hope to be able to share the final list of priorities in my next update, if not sooner.
Planning for activities around International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December every year) is well underway; more on this next time.
The Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) to the CRPD of which HRC is a member alongside the Ombudsman and a coalition of DPOs, has also had a busy few weeks. The IMM met with officials from the Ministry of Health, Corrections, and Social Development to discuss issues related to seclusion and restraint of people with disabilities. Furthermore, the CRPD Committee has confirmed that New Zealand’s progress in implementing the CRPD will be examined at the UN in around March/April 2019, so preparations will continue for that in months to come.
So that’s the last month in a nutshell. Coming up, I have key meetings with the Secretary for Education and the State Services Commissioner, some speaking engagements and AGMs to attend, for example, Blind Citizens’ New Zealand and a Women’s Symposium here in Wellington, and I also plan to meet with incoming Minister(s) post-election.
If you haven’t already, please like my Facebook page so I can stay connected with you. You can also follow me on Twitter at @paulatesoriero. As I said last month, I invite you to message me with ideas, invitations, and suggestions about who to meet.
Until next time…