We worked with DPOs to develop the new plan

In July 2013, the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues met for the first time with the CRPD Independent Monitors (that is the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Convention Coalition Monitoring Group).

This meeting recognised that the status quo approach to disability policy development needed to change. The Chief Executives’ Group agreed to take a more inclusive and collaborative approach with developing a new Disability Action Plan, and they directed government agencies to closely involve DPOs from the start.

This direction reflected an interest by the Chief Executives’ Group in:

  • ensuring that disabled people’s lived experience can inform and enrich Government priority setting
  • advancing New Zealand’s implementation of the CRPD, particularly the obligation in Article 4(3).

The CRPD’s Article 4(3) obliges States to ensure that the authentic voice of disabled people can be present alongside government agencies developing legislation, policy and services impacting on disabled people. This is achieved through involving DPOs.

Representative organisations of disabled people

DPOs are defined as organisations that:

  • are governed and led by disabled people
  • focus on representing the lived experience of disability in one or more impairment areas
  • have members who are disabled people.

DPOs contrast with other organisations in the disability sector which predominantly provide disability-specific services and/or are led by non-disabled people.

There are seven national DPOs that collaborated with government agencies in the development of the Disability Action Plan: Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand; People First New Zealand; Deaf Aotearoa; Blind Citizens New Zealand; Balance NZ; Deafblind New Zealand; and Ngati Kāpo.

The obligation to involve DPOs does not exclude any other organisation from being involved based on their expertise, so long as DPOs always have the opportunity to participate. This obligation acknowledges the long history of exclusion and invisibility of disabled people from government policy development and other matters impacting on them.

New principles of engagement were agreed

In August 2013, the Chief Executives’ Group agreed to principles to underpin government agencies’ engagement with DPOs and ensure consistency with the CRPD Article 4(3):

  • Government will engage with DPOs as representatives of disabled people
  • We involve the right people, at the right time, in the right work
  • We value the contribution of each party and make it easy to engage
  • We will be open, honest, transparent and creative in our engagement with each other
  • We jointly learn about how to engage with each other.

The new way of working together was put into practice

Over September 2013 to March 2014, the Office for Disability Issues facilitated discussions between government agencies and DPOs to codesign a new plan.

The collaborative, codesign process allowed DPOs to be involved in setting priorities alongside government agencies in the Disability Action Plan. This involvement achieved two things:

  • ensuring what is progressed reflects the current experience of disabled people
  • enabling DPOs to appreciate the constraint on resources across the Public Service, which requires ongoing priority setting and demonstrating value for money in everything agencies do

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