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Source: Human Rights Commission

Welcome to our October newsletter.

Report says human rights breaches for people with FASD

Thousands of people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are denied access to the right diagnoses and support, say the Disability Rights Commissioner and Children’s Commissioner.

Paula Tesoriero and Judge Andrew Becroft were commenting on the release of the report Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – A Call to Action which calls for changes to the way people with FASD are assessed for some supports. Human rights of some people with FASD are being denied because of arbitrary measures for criteria, they say.

“Currently people with an FASD diagnosis alone can’t access Disability Support Services (DSS) despite meeting the definition of disability. This exclusion seems arbitrary and there appears no logical basis to limiting access to DSS to those with an intellectual impairment only.  Read more

‘Shame on us’ – Calls for greater support for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (1 News)

Race Relations Commissioner encourages hiring of a diverse workforce

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has written an open letter to employers around the country to endorse and encourage the hiring of a diverse workforce.

Engagements with a number of communities who faced challenges finding employment or re-entering the workforce had inspired the letter. The commissioner said it was important to consider the valuable insights and connections people could bring to the table.  

“It is important that employers consider potential employees based on the merits of their qualities and competencies, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or anything else.” Read more

Te reo Māori is a right – Human Rights Commission

Individual complaints over the use of te reo Māori or the term Pākehā will no longer be considered by the Human Rights Commission.

Te reo Māori is an official language in Aotearoa New Zealand, and all indigenous people also have a fundamental right to self-determination, and the protection of their language, culture, and heritage. This is especially the case in Aotearoa, where He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi have affirmed the inherent right of tangata whenua to Tino Rangatiratanga. Read more

Why pay transparency is crucial to empower vulnerable workers

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner briefed the Education and Workforce Committee on why pay transparency was absolutely necessary to close ethnic and gender pay gaps.

“Pay transparency will allow salary and wage scales to be publicly available and can put an end to gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps across the workforce,” says Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo. She challenged the Government to legislate pay transparency and put in plans to include ethnic pay gap reporting alongside gender pay reporting.  Read more

Your chance to comment on Aotearoa’s human rights record

Organisations and individuals can have their say on how well Aotearoa New Zealand is protecting human rights as part of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The human rights record of all 193 UN member states are reviewed every four and a half years through the UPR.  Make a submission or contribute to the Human Rights Commission’s report.  Read more

Take your chance to comment on racism

Race Relations Commissioner, Meng Foon, is stepping up his engagements with community groups in an effort to gather their thoughts on how to address racism in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Last month the Commission launched the for people to make submissions towards a United Nations-mandated national action plan against racism. With Covid-19 alert levels preventing many in-person meetings the commissioner and his team have held online hui.

“I hope to be able to have more face-to-face meetings once the Covid-19 situation has settled but no matter the method – it is important we hear from you. Your voice matters,” says Foon. 

Health inequity concerns raised by Race Relations Commissioner

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has called on the government to respond to concerns around health inequity from the Pacific community. 

The commissioner commended those involved in the Covid-19 response and their efforts to keep communities safe but underlined that Pacific communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, particularly in South Auckland, had borne the brunt of the inequitable health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. Read more

Responsibility to adopt new face-coverings rules – but they are not a reason to discriminate

The Commission is reminding people to wear face coverings but not to discriminate against people who are exempt.   

“We have human rights and responsibilities to our whānau, neighbours, workers, and wider communities. Putting on a face-covering is one of these obligations that comes with our human rights responsibilities to each other,” says Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero. “However, the Ministry of Health has made it clear they do not need to be worn if a person has a physical or mental health illness or condition, or a disability, that makes wearing a face-covering unsuitable.”

Ms Tesoriero is urging New Zealanders to remember that some disabled people are unable to wear face coverings but still need to have access to supermarkets, healthcare, and other services. Read more.

In the news

Paula Tesoriero: The unnoticed epidemic of violence and abuse against disabled people

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero reflects on the violent death of Lena Zhang Harrap and impact of violence and abuse on disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori.

“In the days since Lena Zhang Harrap’s death the disabled community – of which I am a member – has been talking about personal safety. It saddened me to receive a message, from one visually impaired man who was told, 20 years ago, that he should expect to be picked on – and even assaulted – when he was out. If he chose to have a seeing eye dog it could be assaulted too.

When he asked why, he was told it was because he was an easy target. To avoid being a target he chose to disguise – as much as possible – that he was disabled. It seems to me that in 20 years little has changed. Read more

Wheelchair user worries she won’t be able to bathe in emergency housing

The Commissioner also spoke to Stuff about accessible housing. Her position is that 100 percent of Kainga Ora housing stock should be built to universal design standards – and that having a safe, secure and appropriate home is a fundamental human right. Read more

Successive NZ Governments break human rights promises on housing, health

Governments in Aotearoa New Zealand, current and former, have broken human rights promises when it comes to housing and health.  A new report by Motu Research outlines multiple failings of the governments to meet internationally-agreed standards for living. Listen here:

Paul Hunt: The struggle to find a decent home

Chief Commissioner Paul Hunt spoke to Aljazeera about the housing crisis in Aotearoa New Zealand saying over the last 50 years successive governments had failed the New Zealand public. “The right to enjoy a safe, secure, decent home is critically important for wellbeing. Without a decent home, it’s very difficult for people to be active members of society.” Read more

Meng Foon: In times of crisis we need to look deeply in the mirror

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon reflects on the need for people to show compassion for one another – and to focus on the good in people. “Let’s focus on behaviour and conduct that warms us and makes us proud to be human, and builds a fair and decent society for everyone. That’s what Te Tiriti o Waitangi is all about and it’s what the Human Rights Commission stands for…” Read more

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo: “Until the Panther learns to speak, the hunter will always be glorified.”

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo hosted a successful webinar about the human rights implications of the Pacific Pay Gap and the need to close the gap. Gadiel Asiata from the E tū Union, Magele Maria Uluileata from the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions and Lisa Meto Fox from the Human Rights Commission were on the panel. Listen here.