Deaf and Disabled members’ network
One in four New Zealanders lives with a disability, whether visible or invisible. Disabled people can face discrimination from employers when attempting to enter the workforce, and further discrimination if there are cuts or restructuring.
Nearly 300 Deaf and disabled PSA members have joined together in the only structure of its kind in New Zealand’s union movement.
The Deaf and Disabled members’ network is a space within the PSA for members who identify as living with a disability to network, organise, share ideas and influence the direction and focus of the PSA.
We make sure that the unique needs of our disability communities are met and that the PSA is a proactive and engaged participant in ensuring our country’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is upheld.
Building and maintaining strong relationships with Disabled Peoples’ Organisations is another vital task for us, to enable joint work on issues affecting the many and varied disabled communities across the country.
In 2015, we held the Defining Our Futures hui on individualised funding, bring together a wide variety of people from across the sector to discuss how this was working for both workers and employers, as well as service users.
Another key issue in the sector is minimum wage exemptions for employers of disabled workers, and we held a successful and informative panel discussion on this topic in Wellington.
Coming up in 2016, we are planning workshops in conjunction with Auckland Disability Law on employment rights for disabled people, and we will continue to push the union movement (including the PSA) to think about how we provide information and resources, to ensure it is accessible in formats that work for all of our members and potential members.
Ahead of the 2016 local body and DHB elections, the network will also be probing attitudes and policies of candidates to better inform union members and disabled communities ahead of their voting.
Having workplaces that are responsive to our needs is something that we are passionate about as PSA members, and the Deaf and Disabled members’ network is a vehicle we can use to push for improvements through making a strong stand together.