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Source: Human Rights Commission

Alarming and disproportionate violence against disabled people in Aoteaora New Zealand has been documented in two new Human Rights Commission reports.

The level of harm is of epidemic proportions, and Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero is labelling the violence against disabled people as a human rights failure.

‘These reports provide, for the first time, an evidence base and graphic illustration of the violence and abuse suffered by tāngata whaikaha Māori and disabled people. They show a continued absence of effective responses to reduce its incidence.

‘I commissioned these reports to shine the light on these long-standing serious issues and to offer Tiriti o Waitangi and human rights solutions to address them’.

The reports, Whakamanahia Te Tiriti, Whakahaumarutia te Tangata (Honour the Treaty, Protect the Person) and Whakamahia te Tūkino kore Ināianei, ā Muri Ake Nei (Acting Now for a Violence and Abuse Free Future), set out the evidence available on the causes and impacts of violence and abuse against tāngata whaikaha Māori and disabled people.

‘The reports also clearly outline the gaps in systems, knowledge and services, and set out a roadmap for systemic change.

‘In Aotearoa, racism and ableism intersect to create unique additional risks for tāngata whaikaha Māori who must navigate racism, discrimination and other biases,’ Ms Tesoriero says.

‘This has resulted in the suppression of rangatiratanga along with the many disabling effects on the ability of tāngata whaikaha Māori to define themselves and their own lives’.

The reports make 20 recommendations to ensure actions are grounded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and human rights. They advise prioritising rangatiratanga, partnering with whānau, hapu and iwi to strengthen collective and kāupapa Māori approaches, and greater support for children – embedding disability rights in agencies, more training, and continuous improvement.

Other recommendations include:

  • Ensure actions are grounded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and human rights.
  • Upscale and fully resource existing responses to strengthen safety mechanisms for disabled people.
  • Develop a common language (and understanding) to assist disabled people in describing violence and abuse.
  • Keep children safe from harm through a range of mechanisms in health, education, support and therapeutic services – and embed disability rights in agencies such as Oranga Tamariki.
  • Make structural changes to help prevent violence and abuse that recognise issues such as power/powerlessness, invisibility, lack of access to social and economic determinants of health, stigma and discrimination.
  • Enshrine protections in legislation, including those that improve social participation and equality.
  • Improve data collection and research.
  • Provide more training, resources and continuous improvement training for understanding Te Tiriti and human rights – led by tāngata whaikaha Māori and disabled people.
  • Support a twin track approach to violence response and prevention that ensures all services and information are accessible and makes available a variety of specialist prevention initiatives.
  • Eliminate ableism.
  • Address tāngata whaikaha Māori and disabled people’s lack of access to the determinants of health and wellbeing.
  • Enhance disabled people’s access to justice.