Individual Advocacy Service
Blind Low Vision NZ is dedicated to empowering clients towards greater independence and social inclusion. Our Individual Advocacy Service adopts a person-centred, strength-based approach to provide one-on-one assistance, assisting clients to address specific problems. We also support self-development and self-advocacy through our Know Your Rights Webinar series, which features guest speakers from relevant organisations.
The Individual Advocacy Service is aligned with the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to identify and address systemic barriers. We collaborate with policymakers and advocacy organisations to eliminate access barriers, striving for a meaningful impact on a comprehensive scale.
Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission is committed to a holistic expression of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and human rights including respectful relationships, shared responsibilities and rights activation. The Commission aims to ensure Te Tiriti o Waitangi is embedded in everything they do. They offer a range of free and confidential services for people with disabilities, including a dispute resolution process for complaints covered by the Human Rights Act and cases of unlawful disability discrimination. Dispute resolution introduces a mediator to help people communicate with each other in order to resolve complaints, without involving a judge or other legal decision-maker.
The Health & Disability Commissioner promotes the rights of all people in New Zealand who use health and disability services.
When you use a health or disability service in New Zealand, you have the protection of a Code of Rights. The Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights provides the following 10 rights:
Right 1 – The right to be treated with respect
Right 2 – The right to freedom from discrimination, coercion, harassment and exploitation
Right 3 – The right to dignity and independence
Right 4 – The right to services of an appropriate standard
Right 5 – The right to effective communication
Right 6 – The right to be fully informed
Right 7 – The right to make an informed choice and give informed consent
Right 8 – The right to support
Right 9 – Rights in respect of teaching or research
Right 10 – The right to complain
If you feel your rights have not been considered you can make a complaint in the way that is easiest for you: verbally (in person or by telephone), in writing (by letter or email), or using the online complaint form on the Health & Disability Commissioner website.
The Ombudsman handles complaints about the administrative conduct of public sector agencies. They also carry out a range of roles that contribute to protecting your rights, such as monitoring places of detention, and implementing the UNCRPD Disability Convention. The Ombudsman provides advice, guidance and training to public sector agencies, and promote awareness of their role to the wider community. They monitor the rights of disabled people and investigate related complaints about government agencies, including Official Information Act (OIA) requests. If you believe you have not been treated fairly by the public sector agencies, the Ombudsman may be able to help you.
Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People is a ministry established in partnership with the community and Māori to transform the lives of disabled people and their whānau.
Whaikaha’s responsibility in this partnership is to listen to the voice of the disabled community and learn from the process of working together. To achieve this, Whaikaha endeavours to meet their obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi and the UNCRPD, and by following the principles of Enabling Good Lives and Whānau Ora.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is the first United Nations human rights treaty of the 21st century. New Zealand Government signed the Convention on 30 March 2007, and ratified (agreed to) it on 26 September 2008.
The Convention does not create new rights for disabled people. Instead, it builds on conventional understandings of what is required to implement existing human rights as they relate to disabled people.
Aotearoa New Zealand has an obligation to implement the Convention but there is no requirement to do everything at once. Instead, countries can work towards progressive realisation of the economic, social and cultural rights in the Convention. This means doing things gradually over time as resources allow.
Auckland Disability Law (ADL) provides free legal services to disabled people associated with their disability-related legal issues. ADL is the only specialist disability law community law centre in Aotearoa New Zealand. ADL also provides legal education on disability law in the community and within disability and legal organisations.
Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA) is a not-for-profit pan-impairment Disabled People’s Organisation, run by and for disabled people. DPA works on systemic change for the equity of disabled people.
Founded in 1945, Blind Citizens NZ is one of the country’s oldest advocacy organisations in the disability sector. It is Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest, generic, blindness consumer organisation. Blind Citizens NZ’s role is to advocate to government and service providers on behalf of their members and blind, deafblind, low vision, and vision impaired people living in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Know your Rights Webinar Series
The Individual Advocacy Services runs a bi-monthly educational webinar series called ‘Know Your Rights’. The primary goal of these webinars is to provide comprehensive information about the rights of blind, low vision and deaf blind people. This knowledge will empower Blind Low Vision NZ clients, in particular, to confidently self-advocate. It will also educate Blind Low Vision NZ staff about the Individual Advocacy Service and appropriate client referrals.
The Individual Advocacy Service collaborates with many organisations, including Te Kāhui Tika Tangata – Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, and Health & Disability Commissioner – Te Toihau Hauora, Hauātangana, to enhance the credibility and depth of the information presented. This approach also demonstrates a community-wide effort to uphold the rights of Blind Low Vision NZ clients.