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Auckland Disability Law—Respect: Respond: Resolve

1 August 2011
Volume 5, Issue 1 (Part 1)

Auckland Disability Law—Respect: Respond: Resolve

We know that you have not heard from us in a while. We have lots of information and articles to share. As a special bonus, this Auckland Disability Law newsletter will be in two parts. We look forward to sending you part two of the newsletter in early September 2011.

In This Issue UNCRPD Consultation Hui Staffing and Steering Group Updates Welfare Working Group: Final Recommendations Welfare Justice: Alternative Welfare Working Group Domestic Violence and Disabled People Booklet Union Campaigns: Up Where We Belong Auckland Council Disability Strategic Advisory Group

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) Consultation Hui
Auckland Disability Law, with other Auckland-based disability and mental health organisations, is involved in the Auckland UNCRPD Shadow Report Group. The purpose of this group is to promote the UNCRPD, and to produce an independent report based on the experiences and expectations of disabled people in the Auckland region. This report should help to inform the United Nations about the steps the New Zealand government should take to meet its obligations to disabled people.

As part of this Group’s ongoing community engagement, a community Hui was held on Saturday 28 May 2011 in Auckland City. Over 30 people attended and actively participated in discussions about the Convention and what it means for disabled people. There were also sessions on how to promote the Convention to effect social change and to ensure the needs of disabled people are met. The group’s draft report is due to be released in early December. We are interested to hear from any organisations or groups who would like to participate in a UNCRPD consultation hui, learn more about the UNCRPD, or have their views included in the report. Please contact Auckland Disability Law for more information at Auckland Disability Law Staffing and Steering Group Update

Dr Huhana Hickey says Farewell
“By now many of you will be aware that I have left Auckland Disability Law. While I have left Auckland Disability Law, I have not left the disability community. Auckland Disability Law has a fantastic legal team, community worker and support team. I am sure you are all in good hands with them. I want to thank all those who I have met over the three years and who have supported the work we did. Nothing could be achieved if it was not for all of you. I do not know what the future holds, but what I do know is that disability and law now have a voice with more joining that call daily. I look forward to meeting you again and to possibly working with some of you on future disability rights-based projects. If you have a legal issue and you need assistance, remember to contact the Auckland Disability Law team who I am sure will be a great help to you.”

Nicola Owen—Development Manager
Nicola is back at Auckland Disability Law full time after her six month secondment at the Human Rights Commission. She met some wonderful people, learned a lot, and very much enjoyed working on the community engagement for the Human Rights Commission. She is happy to again be fully focused on continuing to lead and develop the services of Auckland Disability Law.

Neha Patel—Acting Development Manager
Neha had the role of Acting Development Manager during Nicola’s secondment at the Human Rights Commission, and continued this role to allow Nicola to take a well-deserved break in June and July. We thank Neha for the valuable contribution she has made within the office and wish her well with her future studies.

Sue Plowman—Community Worker Sue Plowman (pictured below with David Hagar) joined us at the end of April and is settling in well. Sue comes to us with a long involvement in Union work and has held a number of roles around education, organising and campaigning across different Unions. She has also worked in the community sector in Wellington and Thames. Sue’s role at Auckland Disability Law involves advocacy, community liaison, legal education and communication work.

If you would like Sue to visit your organisation to talk about disability law, or arrange a workshop for you, please contact her at

David Hagar, Susan Martell and Pauline Tam
Our lawyers David Hagar and Susan Martell continue to provide important legal information, advice and assistance to disabled people and their whanau. Pauline, our administrator, continues to do the vital office-based support that ensures Auckland Disability Law runs smoothly.

Steering Group Farewells & Welcomes
Since our last Annual General Meeting in October 2010, we have said farewell to two members of our Steering Group: Barbel Winter and Marguerite Vanderkolk. Barbel and Marguerite conducted their work on the Steering Group with skill and knowledge, not only around governance issues, but also around legal issues faced by disabled people. We thank them for their work, and wish them well. The Steering Group has also welcomed three new members: Jude Attenberger, Stephanie Hartley and Susan Sherrard.

Welfare Changes
The government has made some changes to the benefit system, and is proposing to make more changes. In 2010, the Welfare Working Group and the Alternative Welfare Working Group each held hui and took submissions on how people think benefits should look in the future.

Welfare Working Group: Final Recommendations
The Welfare Working Group’s final recommendations for reforming New Zealand’s welfare system were presented to the Government on 22 February 2011. The final report, and other papers published by the Group, is available in Word format at

Chapter Six of the report focuses on support for sick people and disabled people with long-term needs. Disabled people have raised some concerns about the Group’s recommendations, particularly in relation to the cost of disability.

Alternative Welfare Working Group
In the second half of 2010, the Welfare Justice - Alternative Welfare Working Group produced two reports to contribute to the current welfare reform debate.

Welfare Justice for All Report
which contains reflection and recommendations from the community consultation. Check out Chapter Eight — Disability in the report for a very timely discussion on disabled people and welfare. Welfare Justice in New Zealand: What We Heard Report which contains a summary of submissions made to the Group. See the Group’s website for copies of the reports, summary of the public meetings and other information about the Alternative Welfare Working Group’s work at

The Government has not yet told us what changes it will make to benefits. Some changes have already been made through the Social Security (New Work Tests, Incentives, and Obligations) Amendment Act 2010. If you are experiencing any difficulties with accessing benefits, please contact us, and we will try to assist you. Email

Domestic Violence and Disabled People Booklet
In March the Domestic Violence and Disabled People booklet was released for disabled people and carers. The booklet was developed by the Auckland Domestic Violence and Disability Group. This very useful resource contains information on disability, domestic violence and abuse, getting help, putting in place safety plans, and contact agencies. If you would like a copy of the resource, you can download or order multiple copies at

Union Campaign - Up Where We Belong Support Workers Sleepover Case
The Support Workers Sleepover case is a joint case involving Service and Food Workers Union and NZ Public Service Association members. Earlier this year the Court of Appeal ruled that under the law, disability support workers are entitled to the minimum wage for each hour of a sleepover night shift. Currently they are paid around a third of the minimum wage for these overnight shifts.

After the ruling the government said it may change the law to avoid paying the minimum wage. The employers have now appealed to the Supreme Court to have the ruling overturned. The appeal is to be heard on 13 September 2011. In the meantime the Unions have been trying to negotiate with employers and government over overnight shift payments. To date no agreement has been reached.

Many disabled people support these workers in their claim for the minimum wage. This is because they want to ensure that the people who support them are properly paid and trained for the important work they do. For more information on the Up Where You Belong campaign, visit

Auckland Council Disability Strategic Advisory Group
The Auckland Council Disability Strategic Advisory Group has been formed. Dr Huhuna Hickey is the new Chairperson, with Colleen Brown as the new Deputy Chairperson. This group is charged with developing a plan to help the Council get better processes in place for disabled Aucklanders. The Group’s aim is to have part of their meetings open for the public and to hold them at different venues around the region so people can attend locally and have access to the Group. Information about the Group will be on the Auckland Council website soon, where their reports will be posted. They are keen to encourage people to come along to their meetings and present their issues. We will endeavour to advise the meeting details and keep you posted on the Auckland Council Disability Strategic Advisory Group’s development.


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