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Auckland Disability Community Unite on First Feedback to UN

Media Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1 September 2014

REPORT TO UN CALLS FOR ACTION TO ENSURE DISABLED AUCKLANDERS GET A FAIR GO

A group of 25 Disabled People’s Organisations, interest groups and service providers, along with countless disabled people and family members have released their first assessment on New Zealand’s disability rights record to the United Nations. And the verdict is; it’s time to turn agreements into action.

The 52 page shadow report, which was made public by the United Nations today, is disabled Aucklander’s first official opportunity to update the UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on how well government is progressing on the commitments it signed up to in 2008.

Auckland Disability Law (ADL) managed the consultation and drafting of the shadow report. Martine Abel, ADL’s steering committee Chair, believes the shadow report provides clear examples of where the Government is falling short in its obligations.

“Our consultation reveals major and urgent issues for disabled people in Auckland that breach our obligations under the UNCRPD. The feedback reveals employment opportunities are limited, rates of abuse are shockingly high and there’s a lack of buy-in at a local and national level to urban design and transport systems that meet people’s need to get around their neighbourhood,” says Ms Abel.

The Paid Family Carers legislation has also proved problematic, particularly for disabled Maori and Pasifika people. “In effect family members are paid less to care for disabled adults than strangers, which is a real cultural challenge for Auckland’s diverse population. Plus our community have no recourse to challenge this because of the way the law has been structured. This suggests that disabled Aucklanders are not valued equally under the law. I think most people would assume New Zealand is committed to upholding all people’s basic rights, but this report and ADL’s day-to-day experience in the field shows very clearly that this is not always the case,” she explains.

The report will be reviewed by the Switzerland-based group on 15 September, alongside the New Zealand Government’s own assessment which presents a much rosier picture.

While the report details many of the challenges, it also offers up plenty of practical recommendations.

“There are plenty of quick and effective things that government could do today to make a real difference. Putting some funding into accessible refuges so that people who are unsafe have a place to go, for example, would make a huge impact. They could prioritise programmes to educate employers so that they understand the value that disabled people bring to the workplace and back this up with the funding needed for modifications. They could take up the ideas put to them in the recent Disability Access Review of the Building Act to make our city genuinely liveable. This issue is not about special treatment, it’s simply about taking action so our equal status under the law is met in real terms,” says Susan Sherrard, Team Leader at CCS Disability Action and Auckland Disability Law steering group member.

Ms Sherrard believes a willingness to consult is half the battle.

“We are ready to work together to make progress our obligations. If we could have a commitment from local and national government to consult and listen to disabled people, then I’m sure we could achieve some really great outcomes. New Zealand is an acknowledged world leader in the development of the UNCRPD. And we’ve proved with this report that as a community we’re ready to provide some constructive ideas. I think these are great platforms from which to take action today,” says Ms Sherrard.

The full report is available via the UN website: http://tinyurl.com/loy9xro

The full list of groups and organisations who contributed to the UN shadow report are:

Auckland Disability Law: Project Co-ordinators
Te Roopu Waiora Trust
Association of Blind Citizens New Zealand: Auckland Branch
Deaf Aotearoa
Tāmaki Ngāti Kāpo
Vaka Tautua
NZVIEW (NZ Vision Impaired Empowering Women)
Retina NZ
The Guide Dog Alliance
Blind Sport NZ
People First Northern Region
PHAB
Vision Pacific
YouthLaw Tino Rangatiratanga Taitamariki
Changing Minds
Disabled Women’s forum
Auckland Domestic Violence and Disability Working Group
Auckland Disability Providers Network
CCS Disability Action
Mental Health Foundation
Philip Patston, Consultant
Blind Foundation
Idea Services
IHC Advocacy
Equal Justice Project
The National Foundation for the Deaf.

Auckland Disability Law Background Information
Auckland Disability Law is a free community legal service in the Auckland region and is the only legal service in New Zealand that specialises in disability issues.

We aim to help disabled people access legal services, and to increase awareness of disability law.

We work with Community Law services, other legal professionals, and community organisations to get the best outcomes for disabled people.

CCS Disability Action Background Information
CCS Disability Action works in partnership with disabled people, their families, and whānau to ensure equality of opportunity, quality of life, and by helping to create environments of inclusion. New Zealand is made up of disabled people, their families, and whānau; CCS Disability Action aims to assist all people who face barriers on the basis of disability.

CCS Disability Action delivers regular services to over 5,000 people with disabilities, making us one of the largest disability support service providers in New Zealand. We also administer the mobility parking permit scheme which has over 114,000 permit holders. CCS Disability Action works closely with other disability agencies to make the best use of shared knowledge and resources, helping us to adopt best practice across the sector. CCS Disability Action also works with government to make sure that those with disabilities have the same rights to relationships, learning, work, recreation and community as everyone else.

Our foundation statement, Te Hunga Haua Mauri Mo Nga Tangata Katoa, forms the basis of our identity. It reminds us that all people have mauri (life force) and that all life force is equal. Our vision is to build a truly inclusive New Zealand, a country that embraces diversity.

ENDS

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