A brief overview of the DPO Coalition's activities over the last couple of months:

Understanding Policing Delivery (UPD) Independent Panel - The DPO Coalition met with Tā Kim Workman, Chair, and Dr Katie Bruce, Chief Advisor. The Independent Panel is looking into fair and equitable policing and systemic bias.

The Coalition looks forward to engaging further with the Panel, and to providing them with suggested nominations to ensure the panel includes a disabled person. It is important that the person has disability research experience and is comfortable with Te Ao Māori and Kaupapa Māori methodologies.

Human Rights Commission - Kerri Kruse, Research and Evaluation Lead at the Human Rights Commission, spoke to the DPO Coalition about developing a national survey on people’s awareness, knowledge and realization of human rights.

The DPO Coalition was interested to hear about the survey and is looking forward to engaging further with the Commission to discuss the survey questions and engagement approach.

Housing and Urban Development Agency - The DPO Coalition met with Eleisha Hawkins (Group Manager System Insights and Strategy), Katie Wellington (Manager System Strategy) and Francesca Schiau (Senior Advisor System Strategy).

The Coalition invited the agency to attend the meeting to discuss their progress against actions in the Disability Action Plan to improve accessibility across the New Zealand Housing System. The Coalition will be continuing to have further engagement to ensure that progress is made towards ensuring this important outcome for disabled people.

Ministry of Transport - Emily Ward (Adviser Mobility and Safety) and Anjela Frost (Senior Adviser Mobility and Safety) met with the Coalition to discuss the review of the Total Mobility Scheme.

The Coalition is very pleased that this long-awaited review is going ahead, and that there will be engagement soon. Officials have shared that they are wanting to work closely with disabled people to ensure any change that results from this review is transformational. 

Donald Beasley Institute - The DPO Coalition met with Brigit Mirfin-Veitch, Robbie Frances-Watene, Umi Asaka, Eden Tuisaula, Aroha Mules and Jacinta Tevaga from the Donald Beasley Institute.

The Coalition really appreciated the opportunity to meet new members of the team working on disabled person-led monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Disability Convention). We were particularly pleased to hear about the academic and professional opportunities they are enjoying through the research programme.

Interviews have been completed with disabled people at the coalface of establishing Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People and Enabling Good Lives. Data analysis is underway.

Preparations are now being made for strand 2 of the research, which will involve focus groups. The DPO Coalition will be working with the Donald Beasley Institute to distribute information about these focus groups over the coming months.

Stats NZ - The DPO Coalition was pleased to have an update from Ronelle Baker (Principal Advisor – Accessibility) about the Census and the upcoming New Zealand Disability Survey. Coalition members expressed their thanks to Stats NZ for their efforts to improve accessibility of the Census over recent months. Ronelle emphasized that people can still complete the Census – visit the Census website | Stats NZ or call/relay 0800 236 787.

Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People - Paula Tesoriero (Chief Executive), Ben O’Meara (Deputy Chief Executive, Policy, Strategy and Partnerships) and Brian Coffey (Director, Office for Disability Issues) met with the Coalition.

Members congratulated Ben on his recent appointment as Deputy Chief Executive Policy Strategy and Partnerships, and look forward to working with him.

The Coalition appreciated the honest and open conversation with Paula and her team. We look forward to more dialogue, and to playing a crucial role in helping Whaikaha move forward.

Ministry of Education - The DPO Coalition met with Nicky Hampshire (Chief Advisor Network, Learning Support) and Victoria Hunter (Policy Analyst), and discussed proposals about resourcing schools for teacher aides. The Coalition provided feedback.

Office for Disability Issues in Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People - Brian Coffey and Pauline Melham met with the DPO Coalition. The Coalition is exploring with the Office for Disability Issues ways to encourage government agencies to reinforce their commitment to the Disability Convention.

We learned that the 43,000 people receiving Disability Support Services (now from Whaikaha) were less likely to have a positive test result for the Omicron variant of COVID than the rest of the NZ population (during the period of time 1 January to 16 November 2022), with 32% of these people returning a positive test during that time.

We also learned that these people were more likely to have a severe outcome from their COVID infection, including higher hospitalisation and much higher mortality rates.

We further learned that the hospitalisation and mortality rates were even higher for those people living in residential care as against those living in the community and receiving DSS.

We were saddened to learn of the 27 disabled people who passed away while infected with COVID (some of these people also had other health-related conditions). It is clear however that the toll could so easily have been larger if the infection rate had been worse.

N.B. It is important to note these outcomes do not apply to other disabled people; further work is required to assess the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID on other disabled people.

Thanking Lachlan Keating - The DPO Coalition formally acknowledged Lachlan Keating’s (Chief Executive Deaf Aotearoa) news that he is stepping down from the Coalition. Lachlan has been a valued member of the Coalition since 2021. We welcome Rachel Hargreaves who replaces Lachlan, and joins Anton Sammons representing Deaf Aotearoa.

The DPO Coalition is: DPA, Blind Citizens NZ, People First NZ, Deaf Aotearoa, Balance Aotearoa and the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand.