DPA Bites August 2011
Access For All Is Achievable
The common theme throughout this newsletter is our vision for an inclusive and accessible New Zealand society where disabled people have access to education, employment and the built environment like everyone else.
DPA is proud to have initiated and to be part of a number of exciting initiatives that will help make our vision a reality. These include:
- The Accessible Christchurch Campaign 'Everybody Every Time' that will influence the rebuild and recovery of Christchurch and changes to attitudes around disability for all New Zealanders
- The Disability Employment Summit that will improve employment opportunities for disabled people
- The Education for All group that will continue to influence the development of inclusive schools and improved educational opportunities and achievements for disabled students
- The work of the Convention Coalition in their development of a national parallel report for the United Nations Disability Monitoring Committee
- Working alongside the NZ Barrier Free Trust and the newly established Be. Institute, a social change enterprise that works across all sectors and communities throughout New Zealand
A key strategic goal of DPA is to have a strong, diverse and culturally sensitive grass roots membership. Through the Te Pou-funded Leadership Consumer Programme, DPA is facilitating forums with Youth, Māori and Pacific Island people to strengthen their voices and participation within DPA. The first of these forums was held recently with Pacific Island people. An exciting outcome of this Fono is the establishment of a DPA Pasefika caucus.
Employment for disabled people
Two disability summits have been held – on 14 and 20 June, bringing together members of the Employment Disability Forum, the Employers Disability Network and government agencies, to agree on a course of action to "improve and promote the employment of disabled people in New Zealand".
At the 14 June summit, five priority action areas were agreed upon with representatives from the disability sector. At the second session on 20 June, representatives from the summit, the Employers Disability Network, and Work and Income agreed on these priority action areas:
- The development of a coordinated workplace strategy to assist employers to tap into the talent of disabled people.
- More leadership from large employers, local bodies and the public sector in the employment of disabled people.
- More work experience to be available; internships (especially for people in tertiary education) and after school/holiday work (so disabled people have the same opportunities to compete).
- A resource for (and by) employers on policies around recruitment and retention of disabled people.
The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is also considering "a flexible and adequate funding/contractual model for vocational services that improves pathways and employment outcomes for disabled people".
How to implement these five priority areas will be developed by the parties involved in the summit and put to the Ministerial Disability Committee for its agreement to include in the Jobs workstream of the Disability Action Plan.
Bites asked DPA CEO Ross Brereton whether this didn't seem to represent a lot of red tape, and would disabled people seeking employment opportunities on an equal basis as other New Zealanders see any benefit from this process?
"The importance of the Disability Employment Summit is developing partnerships and conversations between the disability community, employers and relevant government agencies working together on agreed priorities for action. A Government Employment Disability Action Plan will be an outcome of the Summit initiative," said Ross.
At the promotional launch of the Employers' Disability Network on 20 June, Minister for Disability Issues Tariana Turia said, "The Employers Disability Work is testimony to the fact that innovation and lasting change are possible when employers and disabled people work together."
The Minister announced that Cabinet had confirmed her membership on the Ministerial Group appointed to consider the recommendations of the Welfare Working Group.
She said that a particular priority for her would be to respond to the call from the Employment Disability Forum of "disabled people, disability organisations and employers being proactive in exploring options, finding solutions and developing collaboratively the way forward for disabled people in employment".
"Increased employment is one of the goals of the Disability Action Plan," said Ms Turia. "Work gives a person the chance to develop the things they can do, in a society which too often sees a disabled person and automatically thinks 'can't do'. When an employer steps up they make it possible for a disabled person to be part of their workforce, it really does transform lives."
The Minister highlighted that disabled people are as productive and reliable as any employees. They also tend to have better attendance records, remain longer and have fewer injuries at work.
"Tapping into the talent that exists in our large community of disabled people is both innovative and smart," said Ms Turia. "Research has shown that businesses that fail to make their products and services accessible to disabled people, or don't build their expertise in welcoming disabled customers, risk missing out on a great deal of business."
A quick tour of disability employment groups
Employment Disability Forum
The Employment Disability Forum is a group of 19 DPOs and disability organisations including DPA who are collaborating to discuss the continuing concern over the low participation rate of disabled people in the New Zealand labour market. The Forum has prepared a paper for discussion The Way Forward with ministers and other decision makers, titled. This paper is available on the DPA website www.dpa.org.nz
Employers Disability Network
Launched in parliament in September 2010. The EDN is a not-for-profit organisation, funded by its members, providing a leadership role in engaging with employers to equip them to employ disabled people and better serve disabled customers. The EDN says that "employing people with disability isn't just the right thing to do; it makes good business sense".
See the March 2011 edition of Bites for more on these two groups. Also visit the network's website http://edn.org.nz
Ministerial Disability Committee
According to the Office for Disability Issues website, this committee was a "response to the Social Services Select Committee Inquiry into the Quality of Care and Services Provision for People with Disabilities. The Ministerial Committee is designed to provide visible leadership and accountability for implementing the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and set a coherent direction for disability issues across government". It has some key ministers as members and is chaired by the Minister for Disability Issues.
Chief Executives' Group on Disability Issues
Tasked by the government to lead and coordinate implementation of the ministerial committee's priorities on disability issues.
DPA represented on Christchurch earthquake recovery forum
On 25 June, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, announced the 38 names of the successful appointees to the Community Forum for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA). The purpose of the forum is to provide the minister with "information and advice on earthquake recovery matters."
DPA CEO Ross Brereton and DPA member Ruth Jones were named as members of the forum.
Mr Brownlee said, "There was a high level of interest in this forum with more than 230 nominations received from community and special interest groups, individuals, and local MPs. The number and quality of the nominations means the final group is much larger than required by the legislation, which is great as it means more people have a voice in the recovery process."
The members come from a cross-section of the Canterbury community and represent business and ethnic interests, as well as residents' associations and groups. Under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, the forum must have at least 20 members and meet at least six times a year.
The standard for access
DPA past-president and independent building consultant Bill Wrightson writes about standard NZS 4121, a crucial legacy for universal building usability based on the needs of disabled people.
Since 1975 NZ Standard 4121 has occupied a unique position and status within the New Zealand building control system. Today it remains the only NZ Standard cited in the Building Act 2004 and under section 119 of the Act is deemed to be a compliance document of the New Zealand Building Code. With the current NZS 4121 nearly 10 years old it is timely to remind readers of its significance as a building control document and of its role in securing the right of everyone, including people with disabilities, to approach, access and use buildings with a consistent, guaranteed minimum level of compliance detail.
NZS 4121 resulted from the first formal cross-sector gathering, in 1967, to address the issue of architectural barriers restricting community participation by disabled people.
The first Act of parliament to refer to the standard came When the Disabled Persons Community Welfare (DPCW) Act was passed in 1975, section 25 mandated provision of access to public buildings and cited NZS 4121 as a means of complying.
In 1991, the first Building Act (BA) was passed and successful intervention in its drafting by DPA saw access requirements incorporated, virtually intact, from the DPCW Act. The BA mandated NZS 4121 as a benchmark for compliance that could not be ignored when implementing access requirements.
The BA 2004 continues to cite NZS 4121 as a compliance document of the Building Code (itself introduced in 1992). NZS 4121:2001 remains current but needs updating soon, despite the fact that much of its content has still to be discovered by those responsible for implementing access requirements.
Updating the standard, and discrepancies
The development of NZS 4121 since 1967 reflects an evolution in thinking about the universal nature of accessibility. This is based on the premise that if people with disabilities can independently use the built environment, then everyone can use it, all are included and no one is disadvantaged.
The access requirements of the BA 2004, NZS 4121 and the Building Code need to be treated as a unique, yet integral, component of building controls. Unlike all other control requirements, they guarantee the universal human right to access and use buildings, and the built environment in general. The Human Rights Act 1992 reinforces this.
The current discrepancies between NZS 4121 and the Building Code result from attempting to implement a human right using an engineering model of building performance, based on risk management and harm reduction, neither of which is relevant to access provision. The Building Code drafting process does not guarantee input from disabled people.
NZS 4121 takes a building user perspective and has a universal target audience The Building Code target audience is building industry professions and trades.
NZS 4121 presents all accessibility requirements in a single document and in a route sequence focused on the "approachability, accessibility and usability" requirements of building users. The Building Code presents access requirements in a disconnected sequence across numerous code clauses and compliance documents.
Another practical component of the accessible route sequence is that requirements move from items of major design significance, most of which cannot be altered once building work begins, to items of specification that can be altered or replaced at any time after building completion.
It is vital NZS 4121 retain its current status and position in the New Zealand building control regime, particularly its Standards New Zealand consensual drafting and development process. It provides an essential complement to the Building Code by balancing a user perspective with an industry construction viewpoint. It details minimum guaranteed building user entitlements and offers valuable guidance for building industry professionals.
The best options for future integration of NZS 4121 and Building Code requirements include either reclassifying NZS 4121 as a Building Code Clause in its own right, or ensuring that the every Building Code requirement for access are upgraded to match NZS 4121 requirements.
The next revision of NZS 4121 needs to identify requirements for specific building types and facilities (e.g. for accommodation, hospitals, educational institutions, large event venues and so on).
As far as the Christchurch rebuild is concerned, it is important that NZS 4121 requirements for accessible routes and lifts to upper floor levels are not undermined by the lesser requirements of the Building Code.
It is vital that the disability sector knows the part NZS 4121 has played in the struggle to secure rights, along with those of everyone else, to approach, access and use buildings. The vast improvement in accessibility of public buildings since 1967 is a credit to the efforts of the disability lobby but also to the architects, building control officials and others who have continued to "lift their game" in implementing requirements. Nevertheless, vigilance is still required to ensure there is no retreat from progress achieved and that future amendments to building control documents do not limit or reduce current requirements.
Accessible Christchurch campaign
DPA has contracted Pam MacNeill to coordinate this campaign. She reports...
DPA has been granted funding from MSD to run an Accessible Christchurch campaign. This will run from 1 July to 31 December 2011.
Teresa Pomeroy, project manager with the social campaigns team, family and community services at the Ministry of Social Development said, "The Christchurch rebuild offered a perfect opportunity for MSD to partner with DPOs – to ensure that that accessibility is top of the bill, and it is also an opportunity to change attitudes around disability for all New Zealanders."
The Christchurch post-quake rebuild presents DPA with an opportunity to provide input on disability-related access issues. Accessible Christchurch focuses on local community initiatives and building community commitment to changing disability-related attitudes. This is a great opportunity for disabled people to feed into and inform the City Plan going to government in December 2011.
Part of the Accessible Christchurch campaign will feature an Accessible Journey project, which will cover all the steps needed for any disabled person to get from Christchurch airport, through the outskirts of the city, to a central destination such as the Christchurch Art Gallery.
The campaign outcomes sought are:
- Disabled people participate as advisors in all activities relating to the Christchurch rebuild
- Disabled people are included in all aspects of future public space planning
- Comprehensive disability equity and competency training is developed and provided by disabled people, to all personnel involved in the administration of all public spaces
- Christchurch leads the way in the development and implementation of performance standards, for universally designed and consistent infrastructure, built environment, transport and the provision of information
- Christchurch becomes the destination of choice for international disabled travellers.
Key campaign messages developed so far are:
- Nothing about us without us
- Access to transport, buildings and information means equal access and opportunities for all
- Participation means everybody, every time
- The rebuild of Christchurch includes the needs of all Cantabrians and visitors.
Thorough and ongoing consultation with disabled people and other perspectives is crucial to the success of the campaign. Throughout the next six months, DPA will build and maintain relationships with disabled people, DPOs, government departments (especially CERA and Christchurch city councillors/staff), and various disability-related council committees and other organisations, to promote the Accessible Christchurch message and advise practical solutions to access issues relating to the post-quake rebuild.
We will hold a series of forums throughout the greater Christchurch area to gauge the views of disabled Cantabrians. A further series of forums will take place later in the year, to advise on progress and to note any further feedback from disabled people.
International organisations report on disability
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank have produced a World Report on Disability. DPA national policy researcher Wendi Wicks shared her perspective with Bites...
Some of the points that resonated with Wendi from the 350-page report were:
Disability is a matter of more or less, not yes or no
Disability is part of the human condition. Almost every one of us will be permanently or temporarily disabled at some point in life.
Recognising disability: "Hey – that's disabling!"
Disability is often interpreted in relation to what is considered "normal" functioning, which can vary based on the context, age group, or even income group. However, generalisations about "disability" or "people with disabilities" can mislead. Each person has their own preferences and responses to disability.
Disability encompasses the child born with a congenital condition such as cerebral palsy or the young soldier who loses his leg to a landmine, or the middle-aged woman with severe arthritis, or the older person with dementia, among many others. Health conditions can be visible or invisible, temporary or long term, static, episodic, or degenerating; painful or inconsequential.
The diversity of disability experiences
The disability experience, resulting from the interaction of health conditions, personal factors, and environmental factors varies greatly. Also, while disability correlates with disadvantage, not all people with disabilities are equally disadvantaged.
Women with disabilities experience the combined disadvantages associated with gender as well as disability, and may be less likely to marry than non-disabled women.
People who experience mental health conditions or intellectual impairments appear to be more disadvantaged in many settings than those who experience physical or sensory impairments.
Conversely, wealth and status can help overcome activity limitations and participation restrictions.
People with chronic health conditions, communication difficulties, and other impairments are often overlooked in estimates of "types of disability", despite encountering comparable difficulties in everyday life. Two individuals with the same impairment may have very different experiences and needs.
Persons with disabilities and households with disabilities experience worse social and economic outcomes compared with persons without disabilities.
Spectrum model of disability
This model provides '360-degree' recognition of disability and functioning, and a '3D' approach to the continuum of services and quality of life appraisal. It says that preventing disability should include preventing disabling barriers as well as preventing and treating underlying health conditions.
An increasing rate of disability is frequently associated with increases in chronic health conditions – diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, mental disorders, cancer, respiratory illnesses – and injuries.
Global ageing also has a major influence on disability trends because there is higher risk of disability at older ages. The environment also has a huge effect on the prevalence and extent of disability, and on the disadvantage faced by people with disabilities.
The spectrum model, which countries are increasingly adopting as an approach to measuring disability, recognises that estimates of "rates of disability" vary according to where the thresholds on the continuum of disability are set, and the way environmental influences are taken into account.
The evidence in this report suggests that many of the barriers people with disabilities face are avoidable and the disadvantages associated with disability can be overcome.
Implementing the report's recommendations requires involving different sectors – health, education, social protection, labour, transport, housing – and different actors – governments, civil society organisations (including disabled people's organisations), professionals, the private sector, and people with disabilities and their families.
It is essential that countries tailor their actions to their specific contexts. Where countries are limited by resource constraints, some of the priority actions, particularly those requiring technical assistance and capacity building, could be included within the framework of international cooperation.
"I am pleased that so many key aspects of the report echo my learnings over the years – of embracing the diversity of disabling conditions and situations instead of a rigid, stereotypical perception of what constitutes disability" – Anonymous
Inclusive education on the agenda
Rachel Noble reports on a recent meeting between DPOs, the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office about inclusive schooling.
The 'Education for All' group – a DPA initiative – continues to have periodic meetings with Ministry of Education officials to progress aspects of the Review on Special Education.
A very welcome joint meeting took place early in July between the Education Review Office (ERO) and representatives from DPOs and our allies. The meeting was covened by the Ministry of Education's special education policy team. This was an opportunity to discuss the findings of ERO's June 2010 report, Including Students with High Needs. It was also an opportunity for us to seek clarification, to share our thoughts and knowledge, and to discuss terminology use.
In the study leading up to the 2010 report, ERO evaluated how well schools included students with high needs. (Approximately three per cent of the student population have significant physical, sensory, neurological, psychiatric, behavioural or intellectual impairment.)
ERO's evaluation showed that approximately half of the 228 schools in the study demonstrated "mostly" inclusive practice, while 30 per cent had "pockets of inclusive practice" and 20 per cent had few inclusive practices.
It was pointed out that the community of high needs students is very diverse, and many schools either do not have any – or only a very small number of – high needs students. Care needs to be exercised, therefore, on how "inclusiveness" is judged.
However, we discussed the concern that any schools actively turning away high needs students 'at the gate' would not be reviewed for "inclusive practices". ERO and the ministry's special education team want to be informed if anyone is aware of any school turning away students.
DPA national policy researcher Wendi Wicks said improvements to ERO questions about how welcoming a school is or is not to disabled students were also discussed. "We would also like to engage them to consider how they can begin a more ongoing authentic partnership with disabled people, and how disabled people can be part of the review process, as is done in Standards and Monitoring (SAMS) reviews," said Wendi.
In line with the government's Success for All strategy, ERO will collect information in 2011 from schools about how they provide for students with special education needs, and prepare a national evaluation report on the findings.
The Ministry of Education is taking a positive step forward around the provision of resource development contracts. Tenderers for prospective contracts are now required to recognise three significant communities: Māori, Pasifika and special needs students. We had quite a discussion around the processes required to ensure the contractors do reflect the needs/aspirations of our community appropriately.
With such an active discussion taking place we did not manage to work through all the items on the agenda. It was agreed that another meeting will take place later in 2011. More importantly, the fact that the conversation took place is a positive step forward in the new environment offered by the Convention. We look forward to other government agencies following suit.
Bites, December 2010 (available on DPA website www.dpa.org.nz)
ERO report: www.ero.govt.nz/National-Reports/Including-Students-with-High-Needs-June-2010
Members of the Convention Coalition (Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc, Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand, DPA (NZ) Inc, Nga Hau E Wha, Ngāti Kāpo O Aotearoa Inc, People First New Zealand Incorporated) have decided that top priority must be given to leading a national parallel report for the UN monitoring committee. This would be different from the internal monitoring report released in December 2010, Disability Rights in Aotearoa because we will talk to many more New Zealanders and many different organisations and people. The information will not just come from disabled people and we will be asking for information about how all of the articles in the Convention are being put into practice, and what gaps exist.
The government has named the Convention Coalition as one of three independent monitoring mechanisms. The other two are the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsmen. The Human Rights Commission coordinates regular meetings of these three entities, and Wendi Wicks, along with Rachel Noble and Rose Wilkinson attend on behalf of the Convention Coalition.
The meetings are productive. Among the activities we are working on are:
- Developing a common framework to guide our respective monitoring activities
- Working out which of the articles of the CRPD are immediate priorities, so that we can see what we share and how much of the CRPD is of immediate concern
- Developing a pamphlet about each of the three bodies and their respective roles
- Developing a shared annual report to parliament
Earlier this year the Taskforce on Family Violence asked the Disability Coalition Against Violence to nominate a disability sector representative on the taskforce. Ruth Jones was nominated and has started her term.
- The Lottery Research-funded project 'We Don't Just Take, We Give' has been completed and showed that disabled people make a substantial contribution to the community through a wide range of activities. This is not usually recognised, and it turns on its head a stereotype of disabled people as passive recipients.
- A number of community groups and people have been very concerned about the Welfare Working Group recommendations (see extensive coverage in March 2011 issue of Bites. They have been wondering how to show their concerns. Then a commercial concern called Conferenz decided to put on a conference on welfare reform. At a registration cost of $895 'earlybird' it was clearly not for beneficiaries. So along with concerned community groups the Alternative Welfare Working Group decided to run an "$8.95" welfare forum open to all. More than 100 people attended the forum – a greater number than at the other conference. Visit www.welfarejustice.org.nz
- The Accessible Transport Action Committee continues to push for the inclusion of disability inclusion and partnership at a national and strategic level in all aspects of transport planning.
- The Ministry of Social Development has convened a special interest working group on Article 12, in particular supported decision making.
- At present New Zealand Courts tend to use a substituted decision making. With this, if a person is deemed unable to decide for themselves, someone else can be given authority to make decisions on behalf of that person. Probably the best example of this approach is seen in the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1998.
- While this was a good Act at the time, it has been overtaken by developments. Article 12 of the Convention makes it clear that the aim should be supported decision making. In this approach, people are seen as able to make all of their own decisions, and what may be needed is support of varying kinds so that they can get to that point. It means another person doesn't have to decide on their behalf.
- The Ministry of Social Development, along with the justice and health ministries and various disability groups, including DPA, are working to explore what needs to change in law policy and practice, and how best this could happen. The aim is to build a business case and proposal to take to government.
Be. Accessible, according to their website, is "a brand, an accreditation framework for accessibility and a social change campaign with a vision for a 100% accessible country for us all".
Be. Accessible is managed by the Be. Institute – "a social enterprise with a purpose to inspire and enable accessibility through innovation and leadership".
The founding partners of the Be. Institute are Auckland Council, Auckland University of Technology and the Auckland District Health Board.
DPA CEO Ross Brereton is a Be. Institute trustee. The chief executive is Minnie Baragwanath. Another trustee is John Allen, who also chairs the Employers Disability Network.
The work of the Be. Institute, according to the website, is based on three interconnected pillars of accessibility:
- Physical Pillar – creating an accessible physical environment
- Social Pillar – inspiring New Zealanders to think differently about access
- Personal Pillar – developing disabled leaders for others to follow.
Working alongside Be. Accessible is the Be. Leadership programme – "a one-year programme that strengthens and promotes a cohesive and significant disability leadership community".
At the Be.Accessible launch on 6 May, the Minister for Disability Issues, Tariana Turia said that DPA NEC member Matt Frost would be participating in the inaugural leadership programme.
On the same day, the minister announced that the government would invest $4 million over four years in Be. Accessible.
Minute by minute...
Selected minutes highlights from NEC meeting 8-9 July in Wellington
- The Governance Review Discussion Paper as amended is to be circulated to all DPA members (inserted within this issue of Bites) and to Regional Assemblies, inviting comment by 31 October 2011. The Discussion Paper will be an agenda item for the DPA 2011 AGM.
- Roger Palairet spoke to the NEC on some of the key issues concerning Carers NZ and how DPA and Carers NZ could work together to advocate for the needs of carers. Roger spoke of the 'We Care Campaign' recently launched by Carers NZ that aimed at raising the profile, value and recognition of carers and for the need of government agencies to collectively support the Carer Strategy 2008.
- Matt Frost will convene the General Election Working group to develop DPA's 2011 General Elections campaign. DPA will hold a General Election Forum on the Friday evening (18 November) prior to the DPA 2011 AGM.
- Matt Frost presented his report on the New Disability Support Services Model. He will raise the issues discussed by the NEC with the Ministry of Health National Reference Group and the Access for All paper will be made available to the National Reference Group.
- The NEC agreed to the MOU around DPOs monitoring the Convention as members of the Convention Coalition, and also agreed to the continuation of the DPA-nominated representatives on the Coalition.
- Various reports were received, including on the Attitudes Campaign – Contract with MSD Accessible Christchurch; the Disability Employment Summit; Mobility Parking Scheme; Access for All; and Workbridge.
DPA Pasefika Fono
DPA held a most successful forum for disabled Pasefika, on 5 to 7 August in Wellington, to meet, share experiences and decide about future activities.
Fono co-facilitator Pati Umaga said disabled Pacific Island people from Wellington, Auckland and Hawke's Bay attended.
The outcomes of the fono, as reported to _italic_Bites by co-facilitator Pam MacNeill were:
- It was unanimously agreed by all at the fono to form a Pasefika caucus under the umbrella of DPA. The fono also affirmed a youth voice within the caucus. The Pasefika caucus will meet annually.
- The Pasefika caucus will report to the NEC on matters of specific relevance to disabled Pasefika.
- Pati Umaga will make a presentation to the DPA AGM in November about the establishment of the caucus and will stand for election to represent the caucus on the NEC.
- All disabled Pasefika from around New Zealand are encouraged to link to the caucus.
- A DPA Pasefika Facebook page has been established.
DPA 2011 Annual General Meeting
Saturday 19 November 2011
The venue for this AGM is Brentwood Hotel, 16 Kemp Street, Kilbirnie, Wellington