Today I am ranting. The Disability Advisory Group has been announced by Auckland Council. This is the body that represents the interests and views of people with disabilities in Auckland. Whilst I would not have applied this time as I am off to the UK soon, it would have been nice to know that positions were open, and that we had a voice in who speaks for us. I know three people on that group, and they are amazing. I am sure they all are good people, but Auckland Council have really failed to appropriately advertise this. As I write this article, I got a Facebook message from Auckland Council:
These positions were advertised on the Auckland Council website and by Madison Recruitment, media releases and social media channels. Information was also made available at council libraries, service centres and local board offices.^JF
Now. I do not know about you, but I do not spend all my time bouncing between Auckland Council’s website and the Madison Recruitment website. I occasionally use the library myself, but it is not that common any more, especially when getting out is that much harder. As such, Council has some very odd ideas as to what constitutes advertising, and what constitutes a brief nod to being able to say that they advertised.
If I wanted to build a new building, I have to place public notices, let the community know, and go through a long process. However, the people who assist in assessing whether a building is appropriate for people with disabilities are quietly slipped in by the powers that be without anything but a cursory nod to democratic process. Apparently, out of about 350,000 people with disabilities in Auckland, only 30 or so were interested in this position? Do we really believe that? And out of 350,000, we could not find ten people with a disability to sit on the committee, but only six?
As for this going through Human Resources – why? Should Councillors apply for their jobs with CVs and job interviews? Should our MPs get on Seek to look for a vacancy in Parliament? These people represent us, yet are employed by HR? A Human Resources Manager I know said it was Best Practice and thought this was fine. If this is best practice, we need to change our definition of best. It is really best practice to have minimal advertising, not inform stakeholders, have a closed recruitment session, and then select people, some of whom do not even associate as having a disability, in a closed and non-transparent process?
Let me make this clear. I would not have applied for a position myself, as stated, and I know three people on this Committee who are absolutely amazing and will do a fantastic job. My issue is not that I did not hear about it, or I did not get a position. My issue is that the 350,000 people with disabilities in Auckland are being represented by people they did not select, in a process that the vast majority did not know about. Auckland Council has a reputation for working behind closed doors, and this is further proof. I simply want people who understand disability issues from personal experience, and who have been chosen by our community to be able to step up as they choose, so that we have a proper, democratic voice. The Maori Caucus is totally Maori. Women’s Caucus is all women. Pacific Island Caucus is totally Pacific Island people. Disability is some disability, and some able bodied, and no-one who just associates with non-physical disability. Reminds me of the Australian Minister for Women’s Affairs somewhat!
Simon Buckingham is New Zealand’s first diagnosed Autistic Spectrum lawyer. He is a social justice activist and passionate about politics.