Fair treatment for disabled people
The Ombudsman monitors the rights of disabled people and investigates related complaints about government agencies.
On this page
Why the Ombudsman protects the rights of disabled people
New Zealand has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Disability Convention), and is committed to ensuring disabled peoples’ full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM)
The Ombudsman is one of three partners of New Zealand's Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM), along with the Human Rights Commission and the Disabled People's Organisations' Coalition (reports - Office for Disability Issues).
About the IMM in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL):
- promotes, protects and monitors the implementation of the Disability Convention
- reports to Parliament, the public and the United Nations on the implementation of the Disability Convention and specific disability issues
- provides advice on legislation, policy and practice affecting disabled people.
For more information about the membership of the IMM and how it operates, read the IMM's Terms of Reference:
- English - Terms of Reference
- Te reo Māori - Terms of Reference
- Audio - Terms of Reference (English)
- Audio - Terms of Reference (te reo Māori)
- Easy Read - Terms of Reference
- NZSL - What is the Terms of Reference of the IMM?
- NZSL - Vision
- NZSL - Scope of Work
- NZSL - Meetings
- NZSL - Ways of Working
Read more about monitoring the rights of disabled people:
- IMM meeting minutes - Human Rights Commission
- Making Disability Rights Real report 2014/2019
- Making Disability Rights Real report 2012/2013
- Making Disability Rights Real report 2011/2012
- Article 24: The right to an inclusive education
What the Ombudsman can do
When the Ombudsman receives a complaint about a government agency relating to disabled people or a disability issue, they can investigate to see if the agency has acted reasonably and fairly. They also check whether the agency has followed the principles of the Disability Convention.
The Ombudsman may try to resolve a complaint by talking to you and the agency. If they can resolve your complaint, an investigation may not be necessary.
The Ombudsman also helps make sure agencies get it right in the first place by providing information and training, investigating systemic issues, and making submissions to Parliament when it’s considering related legislation.
Taking your complaint to the UN
If you believe there’s no other way left to resolve your complaint in New Zealand, you may be able to take it to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This guide helps you through that process:
Reasonable accommodation is a key concept in the Disability Convention. This is where changes are made in a system or setting to accommodate a disabled person. These adjustments work to support disabled people to participate fully in community life, including employment and education. An example is where a desk is lowered to allow a person using a wheelchair to use it.
Read the IMM’s guide: Reasonable accommodation of persons with disabilities in New Zealand. It's available in a range of accessible formats.
Help for public sector agencies
Agencies can contact the Ombudsman for training to improve how they work with disabled people.
About the Ombudsman’s Disability Advisory Panel
The Chief Ombudsman has established a Disability Advisory Panel to inform his work in the area of disability rights.
The purpose of the Panel is to ensure that the Chief Ombudsman has access to timely and high-quality expert advice from New Zealanders with lived experience of disability, thereby reflecting the mantra of the disability rights movement: ‘nothing about us, without us’.
The Panel will:
- produce key insights on accessibility and equity from disabled people across the nation;
- identify, deconstruct, and confront the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating fully in society; and
- centre critical perspectives from Māori, Pasifika, and young Panel members to illustrate the intersections of these barriers with other social issues in Aotearoa.