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Making Disability Rights Real 2014 - 2019

Issue date:
Large print,
New Zealand Sign Language,
Te reo Māori

Executive Summary

New Zealand has a mixed record when it comes to the rights of disabled people. Although we do some things well, there is still a great deal of work required to remove barriers stopping disabled people from participating in society on an equal basis. 

The IMM have identified six key themes that must be prioritised to ensure the realisation of the fundamental rights set out in the Disability Convention in New Zealand. It is also important that we highlight the experience of disabled Māori and Pacific peoples in our report. We have ranked the six key themes in order to make clear where the most urgent action is needed by the Government. 

Red:         For immediate attention
Amber:    Needs significant attention over the next 6 months 
Yellow:     Needs attention over the next 12 months

The IMM believes that education, housing and seclusion and restraint are the most pressing issues for disabled people that the Government must take urgent action on. 

In education, a generation of disabled people is being significantly negatively impacted and set up for poor lifelong outcomes. This is despite recent years of reform, which unfortunately has not been co-designed effectively with disabled people, nor has it addressed systemic concerns for inclusivity.

Accessible housing is critical for disabled people to be healthy, safe and secure and to participate in their communities. There are simply not enough suitable homes available for the people who need them.

Seclusion and restraint continue to be used in secure health and disability facilities. While fewer people are affected by these practices than by inequities in housing and education, it continues to cause significant harm. Of particular concern is the disproportionate use of seclusion and restraint for Māori. 

While the other key themes are also vital, we urge the Government to immediately address the severe inequalities created by the current education and housing system, and the ongoing use of seclusion and restraint. 

Education (Red)

  • Key recommendation: introduce an enforceable right to inclusive education as a key element of the legislative framework, and ensures resource to attain equitable access. 
  • Key recommendation: build co-design into every stage of the education reform process.

Housing (Red)

  • Key recommendation: implement legislation requiring all newly built housing to conform to universal design standards (refer also Article 9). 

Seclusion and restraint (Red)

  • Key recommendation: strengthen the commitment to reduction of rates of restraint of persons with disabilities, and the rapid reduction, towards elimination, of use of seclusion in secure health and disability facilities, through robust, achievable and time-bound policies.

Data (Amber)

  • Key recommendation: restart the Disability Survey following each Census, commencing with the 2023 Census.

Access to information and communication (Yellow)

  • Key recommendation: enable disabled people to communicate more effectively with government agencies by increasing the number of accessible formats available so that disabled people can express their views in New Zealand Sign Language, and use braille, Easy Read and audio formats to engage fully.

Employment (Yellow)

  • Key recommendation: develop a comprehensive rights-based national disability employment strategy.

The IMM expects the response from the Government to the six priority areas to recognise the unique needs of marginalised groups, including disabled Māori and Pacific peoples.

Further examination of the key themes and a full list of recommendations are set out in the following sections. 

Making Disability Rights Real 2014 - 2019 video and audio versions

Making Disability Rights Real (audio files) - YouTube

Making Disability Rights Real (New Zealand Sign Language) - YouTube

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