Disabled people who attended the Disabled Leadership now protest rally have voted no confidence in a process not led by a disabled person.
The rally, facilitated by internationally respected Australian human rights campaigner: Graeme Innes, saw a wide range of disabled people in attendance, with others including parents, advocates, members of Parliament and allies watching on Facebook.
“The disability community coming together like this in such a short time should send a clear message to Government that there is a grievous wrong here that must be righted if confidence in this new Ministry isn’t to be damaged beyond repair,” says Pam MacNeill, a former, and long-standing senior public servant, who was one of the organisers of the event. Despite possessing a range of academic qualifications, and demonstrable skills, at least two disabled people with senior organisational and disability sector leadership experience made it to the final list of candidates but were overlooked for appointment to the Establishment Director role.
“Even though people were angry and disappointed that the Government seriously thinks there is no disabled person capable of leading the establishment of our own ministry, I was impressed by how solutions-focussed the meeting was,” said Jonathan Mosen, one of the DLN Leadership Team.
“This has never been a negative campaign against any individual, it has always been a positive drive to debunk the myth that no disabled person is capable of doing this work,” Mr Mosen said. “But those attending the rally were crystal clear, being a disabled person is a non-negotiable attribute for holding the Establishment Director position.”
The sentiments of the rally were that Government need to truly listen to rank and file disabled people, understand the depth of feeling on this, and put a disabled person in the role, even if that means a delay in the commencement of the Ministry. People felt excluded from the process and that there was a communications vacuum from the Establishment Unit.
“There has been talk of disabled people being brought to the table as advisors. That’s not sufficient,” Mrs MacNeill said. “We’ve been consultants and advisors in our own business for years, occasionally paid, usually not. If this Ministry is going to be transformational, then we need to flip things around. Disabled people must lead and meaningfully manage this mahi, while naturally taking any advice required from nondisabled supporters”.
Disabled leadership now will seek a meeting with officials in the coming week to communicate the rally’s outcomes and to seek renewed consultation on the establishment process.
The meeting also agreed that the group will take the matter to the United nations if all New Zealand-based avenues have been exhausted.