Disabled people in New Zealand find that getting a decent job is one of their most significant challenges. New Zealand’s leadership role in the development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities means there is a renewed focus on the right to work of disabled people.
The urgent need to improve the participation of disabled people in the paid workforce and their accessibility to decent work is gaining traction. For example, the Disabled Persons Assembly (NZ) has led the way with the Employment Disability Forum in recognition of the need for progress given that at every level of qualification, disabled people are less likely than non-disabled people to be in the workforce. The Employers Disability Network is promoting the employment of disabled people in the public and private sectors at a time of discussion and debate about the need for behavioural and attitudinal change in society and among employers.
There is a growing public consensus of the need to address the fundamental inequalities faced by disabled people in employment that recognises the New Zealand Disability Strategy and acknowledges the Treaty of Waitangi. The time for talking is over. It is now time for action to address the barriers and discrimination faced by disabled people in accessing decent work and in retaining paid employment.
In Tracking Equality at Work for Disabled People, the Human Rights Commission identifies young people entering employment as a critical issue. The Commission urgently recommends a national youth-to-work strategy that includes a plan for every young New Zealander. The strategy must address the barriers faced by disabled youth, and be responsive to Maori and Pacific young people who have been a casualty of the global economic recession.
In this new report the Commission is promoting equal employment opportunities for disabled people in accordance with Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as it relates to work and employment.