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Disability Discrimination Unacceptably High



"Disabled New Zealanders continue to encounter unacceptably high levels of discrimination," Human Rights Commissioner Ross Brereton said today. He told the Disability Forum on Human Rights that New Zealanders with disabilities were woefully over- represented in the Human Rights Commission's complaints statistics.

"In the year to June 30 1999 disability complaints accounted for 26% of all complaints. This is the single largest category of complaints," Mr Brereton said.

Further analysis of current Commission complaints and enquiries data shows that this trend has continued. In the eight months to February 29 2000 disability complaints are consistently the highest. Half of these disability complaints relate to the area of employment.

"These statistics represent complaints to the Commission and only signal a problem. The wider issue of the causes of possible systemic employment discrimination against people with disabilities clearly needs investigation."

"The ILO has criticized New Zealand for failing to collect adequate data on the employment of people with disabilities. Until such criticism is heeded, New Zealand can not comprehensively address issues of discrimination affecting people with disabilities," Mr Brereton said.

He also said that the government should seriously consider equal employment opportunity legislation for both public and private sectors.

"For people with disabilities, declining public sector employment rates and vulnerability to economic trends ensure that protective action must be taken."



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