News Item

September 2021

Rethinking Disability Legislation

In a ground-breaking new report, the research team of Warren Forster, Tom Barraclough and Curtis Barnes set out to design legislation that would be effective in identifying and removing barriers that cause disabling experiences for so many of our people. They recognise that this is a once in a generation opportunity for our law and policy makers to develop a regulatory system to bring about this change.

Project lead, Warren Forster, says, “We tried to understand the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the ambitions of the Access Alliance and Te Tirirti o Waitangi to create a legislative framework that would work within New Zealand’s particular legal system. We recognise that we don’t have access to the information, expertise and resourcing available to government.

“This report also aims to assist disabled people, political leaders, and future decision makers to understand how a system could be designed to provide accessible, equitable and effective change.”

This report provides a starting point for co-designing the future accessibility system in a way that is most likely to remove known and emerging barriers faced by disabled people and others. It sets out the organisational structures that could be developed to create this. To make this system work, it will need disabled people, iwi groups, businesses, governments, and non-government organisations to collaborate to bring about this change.

While some deviation from the key features incorporated in our system is inevitable, any deviations from the key features of the system as we have framed it should take into account the reasons we give for why the system should be designed in that way.

The project team has set out the specifics of the system as much as they can and hope it is helpful for people wishing to develop legislation now and continue to be useful for future advocates of accessibility legislation for New Zealand. They have written a report that proposes a legal framework to make New Zealand accessible for and remove barriers that create disabling experiences. A quarter of New Zealanders experience disability, and everyone will have an impairment at some point.

This document proposes:

  • having disabled people play a key role in identifying and removing barriers
  • giving people who may have to remove barriers a chance to comment
  • giving disabled people and those who would need to comply with the framework a chance to discuss how the law should work.

The report recommendations aim to get rid of disabling experiences, not get rid of disability. There is nothing wrong with disability or being disabled – disability can be a strong and positive part of someone’s identity.

The authors encourage readers to discuss their proposal with your whanau and friends, and consider if you support it.

Read the full report in PDF format here

Read the summary report in PDF format here

Link to other more accessible formats via Access Alliance website for the full report and the summary report

The Law Foundation contributed up to $116,500 towards this research.