Privilege denies true representation of disability rights



The human right of people with disabilities in New Zealand has come back into the spotlight by the Human Rights Commission.

The report named ‘Making Disability Rights Real’ highlights some of the main issues as being adequate data collection, accessibility, education, violence and abuse, and building a people driven system.

This list covers all the basics of what needs to be reviewed in order to improve the quality of life for the disabled community. I believe that the most important out of these 5 issues however, is the urgency of developing a people driven system – particularly people who are from the specific community of concern.

No one else quite knows or understands the structural and daily problems faced by the vastly diverse disabled community in this country than those who experience it and those who are constantly exposed to them; such problems occur due to the aforementioned inadequacies in accessibility, education, and violence and abuse.

The campaign to increase the number of broadcasted shows that have closed captioning would not be happening if the deaf community had the agency and the means to highlight this as a legitimate hindrance in their ability to integrate and be included in the mainstream experiences. I also doubt that those who do not require closed captioning would have recognised this as something that needs to be addressed, myself included.

This is just one clear example of how effective and positive change can happen if the people who understand the issues through lived experience are the driving forces behind the campaigns in question.

It’s not about being able to identity these needs yourself; it’s about listening to those who actually are able to, taking them seriously and treating them like human beings who have something to say. This is what ‘human rights’ is all about.

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  1. I dislike the report and the people producing it. I detest the business as usual, approach of the blue rinse set (able body do-gooders) in relation to disability issues. Yes they have changed their language, but their actions are still the same.

    Top down focus, heavy reliance on the government, and ‘we know best’ approach, couched in the all the best newspeak. Yes there is a token push towards a people driven system – which in a way is hopeful – however in reality, never addresses institutionalised racism and becomes just another way to cut or impede funding. With a society which is so focused on individualism, an individualised approach for disabled is going to fail.

    There was a time, when the shared experiences of disabled people was their strength. A time when the realities of this shared experience helped drive and deliver constructive outcomes for people living with disabilities. But, like all things in the face of the neo-liberal revolutions, there has been a desolation of that sentiment. Indeed, now the little fiefdoms rule.

    Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand being possible the best example of a dysfunction fiefdom. High turn over of staff (almost two full staff turn overs, in 3 years), wrought with petty politics, a lack of understanding of the difference between governance and management, questionable funding relationships – (how the hell did this mob get Maori funding?), and quite frankly it’s an institutionalised racist outfit – As played out by Maori and Pacific Deaf would rather go to other organisations (including hearing organisations) and than this one, who is constitutionally/legally bound to represent them.

    Ms Daud, you fight the good fight and good on you. But this is the goose which laid the rotten egg. Until disabled have complete control over their own interests, it’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s all begging at the table for masters scraps. And the cream is once again pinched, by the same old blue rinse set.

  2. Agree Latifa.

    However, and very sadly, the HRC and the HDC, are not really tasked with doing this – from the inside – it is only for public relations that these 2 govt ‘entities’ exist.

    This is why we cannot get anywhere with them – we aren’t supposed to. And if we were supposed to, then they would already be helping us, and doing something (rather than nothing).

    They are nowadays nothing more than a front for gobbling up our taxes.

    Pretend they don’t exist – the HRC and the HDC – because in reality, they don’t – they are just another facade.

    Ask any person with disabilities if they have taken an issue to the HRC and the HDC, and you will see that their purpose is to “not help”.

    They maybe take on the odd complaint – just for appearances sake.


    • The Human Rights Commission has only limited powers to deal with complaints and so. I have not read this report, that Latifa mentioned, but I suppose it can be found here somewhere:

      Like most of these Commissioners, they are likely to be underfunded to do anything, and as the Commissioners tend to be academics of whatever background, I suppose they have only so much ability to understand the challenges of disabled persons.

      The Health and Disability Commissioner Office (HDC) is another Office that is rather useless, and having had over 1,600 complaints last year, of which only 60 or so were “formally investigated”, it shows that they are too busy by offering just a bit of advice, advocacy, recommendations and “slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket” disciplinary solutions.

      Their role is simply to keep people from taking medical and other health professionals out to the courts, none else. ACC legislation and other legal provisions are so designed in New Zealand, that any person can only take a health or disability related complaint to the HDC. Unless an end consumer has not first taken a complaint to the HDC, the Medical Council for instance will not even look at a complaint about any of their registered members.

      The HDC does though throw out many complaints, or fobs people off in various ways.

      I know someone with mental health issues, and that person made complaints to the HDC some time ago. I was appalled how poorly he was treated, yes abysmally, and no consideration was given to his difficulties to even express his grievances with some professionals who stuffed up big.

      Here is a post or thread with some comments and info on the HDC:

  3. I have been disabled for 22 yrs.’ ask me about HRC, they need real people like us involved in their management and policies firstly.

    No body knows remotely near what is required to offer assistance to those who are disabled.

    So if HRC don’t incorporate those with specific unrecognised disabilities on their planning instruments & committees & technical advisory agencies and the like nor supported by robust paperwork and services then it is just a false agency just for show only.

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