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Source: Human Rights Commission

A national Forum reviewing Aotearoa New Zealand’s progress in improving the rights of disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori has raised challenging questions. 

The ‘Disability Convention: How is New Zealand doing?’ Forum was held by the Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) to review the country’s implementation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

A range of issues were covered over eight sessions, such as obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, experience of poverty and access to justice. The IMM Forum was also an opportunity for disabled people and tāngata whaikaha Māori to ask questions of Government.   

In closing remarks to the IMM Forum the Director of the Office for Disability Issues, Brian Coffey, said it had shown the importance of developing policies and services alongside disabled people and their representative organisations. 

“The questions posed have at times been challenging and have focussed on how to make change across the whole the system – policies, implementation, practices, services and supports,” he said. 

Conclusions from the IMM Forum will be published in June in preparation for the United Nation’s review of the CRPD in early August. 

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said the country was entering a period of change for the lives of disabled New Zealanders.  

“Proposed accessibility legislation, and the imminent establishment of a Ministry for Disabled People, have the potential to advance the rights of disabled New Zealanders and to remove barriers that have persisted for too long.” 

Chair of the IMM Dr Jonathan Godfrey said while there had been improvements for disabled people there are still numerous examples of inequality.

“No-one should forget the horrors of the past for disabled people but we must move forwards if we are to avoid the same outcomes affecting the next generation of disabled people.”

“Disabled people do not have parity, and we will not have parity until we can see effort is being made to address every all equity gap.”

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero said the IMM appreciated the Government’s acknowledgement of the daily barriers disabled people face and the considerable work that stilled needed to be done to improve lives, particularly for tāngata whaikaha Māori.  

“During the IMM Forum there were several references to broad strategies with or by Māori without including a disability lens or vice versa – confirming as indicated in our report that tāngata whaikaha/whānau hauā, most of whom identify as Māori first, have significant challenges in their lives because approaches are not integrated.

Notes: 

  • The Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) is a partnership between the Disabled People’s Organisations Coalition (DPOC), the Human Rights Commission, and the Office of the Ombudsman. The IMM ‘s role is to promote, protect, and monitor the implementation of the United Nation’s CRPD in Aotearoa. 
  • The IMM forum was held online March 29-30 and April 5-6. 
  • New Zealand signed the CRPD on 30 March 2007 and ratified it on 26 September 2008.  The CRPD helps to protect the dignity of disabled people by ensuring their equal treatment under the law including the right to health services, education and employment. The CRPD in Aotearoa is overseen by the Ministry of Social Development (Office for Disability Issues). 

Links to video recordings:

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