Ensuring our voices are heard

06 April 2021

Alison Riseborough, one of two MDANZ representatives on the Disabled People’s Organisation Coalition, provides an update on recent and current issues. 

In mid-2020 I replaced Tristram Ingham as one of MDANZ’s two representatives on the Disabled People’s Organisation Coalition committee (DPO Coalition).

Tristram is still the DPO Coalition representative on the Integrated Monitoring Mechanism (IMM) and is on some other government working groups because of his valuable skills and expertise.

The DPO Coalition represents the voices of disabled people to the highest levels of government. Other groups in the Coalition are the Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA), Blind and Low Vision NZ, People First NZ, Deaf Aotearoa, Kāpō Māori Aotearoa, and Balance Aotearoa. 

Since joining the DPO Coalition committee, I have learned that its activities include monitoring and providing advice on the Disability Action Plan, meeting with the Minister for Disability Issues, meeting senior government officials and commissioning research on pressing disability issues.

The DPO Coalition has to stretch itself wide to cover the many important issues that affect disabled people in New Zealand. Some of the recent and current issues of interest to MDANZ members are:

Disability Action Plan progress reports: Each government agency must report six-monthly on the work it is doing under Ensuring our voices are heard the Disability Action Plan. The committee reviews and comments on the reports before they are published. The first progress reports on the current DAP are due to be published in early 2021. 

Accessibility legislation: The new Government has renewed its commitment to establishing an Accessibility for New Zealanders Act. The DPO Coalition wants to ensure that disabled people’s views are gathered effectively and are reflected in the advice on options that goes to ministers in May 2021. The Access Alliance is working in partnership on the operational aspects. The engagement process was expected to get under way in the new year. There will be opportunities for discussion and input through each DPO.

Making disability rights real in a pandemic: DPO members were involved in production of a report describing disabled people’s experiences during the Covid-19 response last year. The report can be found at: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/resources/making-disability-rights-real-pandemic

Last year, Covid-19 severely disrupted many of the proposed actions under the Disability Action Plan. It looks like the pace of work is picking up again in the first half of 2021. 

Some policy areas where there could be developments are:
• System transformation (disability support services)
• Access to health services
• Education
• Employment
• Welfare reform
• Building the leadership capabilities of disabled people.

Lack of accessible and affordable housing is another critical area where urgent reform is needed. 

Please look out for opportunities to have your say on these issues and others that affect you. 

You can contact Alison at [email protected]

* This story was originally published in the Autumn 2021 edition of In Touch magazine. 

For more information please contact: 
Melanie Louden 
Communications and Marketing Advisor 
Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand 
027 509 8774 
[email protected]