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First Disability Rights Commissioner Appointed

First Commissioner with formal responsibility for disability rights appointed

The Human Rights Commission warmly welcomes the announcement of the appointment of Paul Gibson as the first Commissioner with formal responsibility for disability issues.

Mr Gibson has a strong and impressive record as a disability advocate. At present he is doing project work for IHC and previously was the senior disability advisor at Capital and Coast Health. He has been President of the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) and has worked for CCS Disability Action. Along with his work with diverse disabled people, Paul’s own lived experience of disability drives his passion for the rights of all people. He is partially blind and accesses information using Braille and adaptive technology.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford said Mr Gibson, who holds a Masters degree in public policy, would bring a wealth of experience and skills to the Commission as it works with other organisations to monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mr Rutherford said the Commission had already had the benefit of working closely with Paul Gibson. “Paul Gibson will bring great experience, expertise, energy and creative leadership to the role.”

While the appointment process has been underway the Chief Commissioner and the EEO Commissioner Dr Judy McGregor have jointly overseen the Commission’s work on monitoring and implementation of the Disability Convention.

Dr McGregor said, “Paul is an exceptional choice as a new Commissioner. He has a long and impressive record as a disability advocate fighting for the rights of disabled people in education and health. He brings valuable skills and experiences to the Commission.”

Paul Gibson was a member of the New Zealand Disability Strategy Sector Reference Group was one of the five people advising the Government on the Review of Special Education. He has been a key figure in initiating the reform of disability support. He helped establish the NZ Disability Support Network, the Carer’s Alliance, and Achieve, the national post- secondary education disability network. He is a member of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, the Association of Blind Citizens, and Ngati Kapo, and has been involved in Treaty educator networks. He has been involved in age care and mental health consumer issues.

New Zealand was instrumental in the development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Mr Gibson was among those who contributed to that work. He takes up his new role on 26 September, which is the third anniversary of the date New Zealand ratified the Disability Convention in 2008.

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