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HRC welcomes new Special Education framework

20 February 2001

Human Rights Commission welcomes new
Special Education framework

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the special education announcement by Government.

The Commission has received a large number of complaints and enquiries about special education and the number appears to be growing. Over the last two years (to 30 June 2000) the Commission’s Complaints Division has investigated 25 formal complaints of discrimination by schools against children with special needs. Overall, 60 per cent of complaints in the education area concern disability.

Commissioner Ross Brereton said: “There is evidence of systemic discrimination against children with disabilities. These new changes create a framework which will allow that discrimination to be addressed.”

“The basis of human rights is that everyone has the right to live in dignity, express their identity, participate in society and achieve their potential,” Commissioner Brereton said.

“New Zealand law guarantees these rights to children with disabilities and significant resources are available to make them a reality. However, too often schools are failing to perform in their duty to support children with special needs”.

“Parents whose children have been turned away from schools or who have not been given the support they need can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission”.

“We can help the individual families who come to us. But we only see the tip of the iceberg. We want to see every child and parent treated as they are entitled to be,” Mr Brereton said.

“To make a real difference, more needs to be done. Greater leadership can now be shown by the Ministry of Education. Parents must be given the information and support they need and advocacy services must be made available. There needs to be a far greater focus on the rights of children.”

ENDS

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