Tēnā koe, welcome to our October 2023 Newsletter

In this eNewsletter:

  • Make it fair for ALL!
  • Introducing our Governing Committee.
  • Government response to key UN disability rights recommendations for improving disabled students right to inclusive education: A cause for concern?
  • Universal Periodic Review 2024: New Zealand’s human rights record to be reviewed.

Make it fair for ALL! 


Time for politicians to deliver an education system that works for all  

Sixty-six national organisations from across the children, education and disability sectors, including IHC, are calling on all political parties to do better this election. The key message is that they must work together to build a public education system that works for all.
That means every child has a chance to attend their local school and early childhood setting, learn and achieve, be part of social, sporting, camps, and other activities, and leave school able to contribute to society.
IEAG is proud to have been one of the first organisations to add our support to this campaign.
IHCs online political forum is being held on Friday 6th October 2023 from 6pm to 7pm.  Each party will speak for 5 minutes on their plans to build an education system that works for ALL learners and will then respond to questions. IHC will record the event. Questions and answers will be collated into a document for use after the election.
 Link to Event.

Introducing our Governing Committee

Giovanni Tiso: Convenor Governing Committee
Kia ora koutou, ko Giovanni Tiso toku ignoa. I’m an autistic adult and have served in the executive committee of IEAG since 2016.  I live in Wellington with my partner Justine. We have three children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum and currently attending high school. I spent a decade on the board of Berhampore School, including two terms as presiding member, and it was in that role that I became an advocate due to the leadership role taken by the school and its principal. I’m deeply committed to IEAG’s kaupapa and being involved in the organisation has strengthened my conviction that our education system can and must be changed to allow all young people to thrive.

Trish Grant: Governing Committee Member
Trish is currently the Inclusive Education Lead consultant for IHC- previously Trish held the position of Director of Advocacy at IHC for over 15 years. Prior to that Trish was the Advocacy Manager for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, a role she held for nine years. Her professional background also includes secondary teaching, counselling, and social work. Trish is passionate about inclusive education and social justice more generally. She was instrumental in facilitating the establishment of IEAG and continues to promote the organisation in all aspects of her advocacy role. Trish is keen to see IEAG strengthen its systemic advocacy role while also offering in partnership with other organisations inclusive practice information and workshops throughout New Zealand

Jude MacArthur Governing Committee Member
I grew up in Dunedin and have lived most of my life there, studying and completing my PhD at the University of Otago. I began my working life as a primary teacher, followed by thirteen years lecturing in Teacher Education and Education Studies at the University of Otago in Inclusive Education and Human Development. From 2000-2006, while my children were young, I worked in disability research as a part-time senior researcher at the Donald Beasley Institute in Dunedin, leading national research projects for the Ministry of Education and co-leading a NZ Royal Society Marsden funded research project with Dr. Michael Gaffney from the University of Otago on the school experiences and identities of children and young people with disabilities as they transitioned from primary to secondary school. I joined Massey University's Specialist Teaching team in 2011, coordinating an endorsement for experienced teachers in education for children and young people with complex educational needs, and teaching courses in inclusive education and Professional Inquiry. I am pleased to be now working in the School of Critical Studies in Education teaching and researching in Inclusive Education, Disability Policy, and Current Issues in Education. My particular interests are in the education experiences of disabled children and young people, and in how early childhood services and schools can be places where all children, young people and their whānau are welcome, valued, belong, and learn well.


Paul Brown Governing Committee Member
Originally from Dundee in Scotland, Paul lives in Auckland with his partner and his daughter. Paul is a special school survivor: boarding at a school for blind children and young people from the age 5 to 19. Paul has an MA in Disability Studies and has worked in the disability sector for nearly 30 years. Paul's first work was in tertiary education supporting staff who co-ordinated provision for disabled students and supporting academic staff to make their learning and teaching accessible. Since moving to Auckland Paul has worked as a Disability Advisor at Auckland Council, in the Disability Rights Team at the Office of the Ombudsman and as a Policy Advisor with DPA. Recently Paul has taken up a role with MSD, working to make family violence and sexual violence services more accessible for disabled people. Outside of work Paul is a keen folk singer and involved with various disability organisations. Paul is passionate that disabled children should have the right to attend their local school. 

Doug Hancock Governing Committee Member

I was Senior Advisor to the Disability Rights Commissioner(s) for 6 years. During that time, I was a subject matter lead on inclusive education issues. I am passionate about finding ways to get decision makers to take the long-term benefits of inclusive education seriously. My perspective on inclusive education aligns with that in the CPRD and that espoused by the Disability Rights Commissioner during many years of the Education Conversation with MOE. Inclusive education is a foundational right that so many other rights and life outcomes for disabled people hang on. I am a public servant with 18 years’ experience of policy and law making. I have a strong background in both youth development (at MSD in a youth policy team) and human rights (in a human rights team in MOJ, in disability rights space in the Human Rights Commission). I also have international development experience (human rights adviser in Tanzania).  

Sarah Lear Governing Committee Member and Benjamin Lear
I live in Auckland and come from Wellington. I am a qualified pastry chef with a Diploma in Patisserie from the Auckland University of Technology. I run my own catering business Sarah’s Kitchen which I started with grant funding from the Ministry of Social Developments Disability Innovation Fund.
I have shared my experiences of school and what worked for me as a young person with a communication impairment at a number of disability conferences. I am committed to helping make school a better place for everyone including other disabled children and young people. My younger brother Ben comes to committee meetings and helps me out when I ask him too.
Benjamin Lear
I am currently a PhD candidate at the university of Auckland, and I specialize in fetal physiology and neuroscience. I am specifically interested in the mechanisms and sequence of events leading to brain injury in the preterm infants. I hope my contributions in this field will help reduce the incidence of cerebral palsy by identifying new preventative therapies.

Heather Lear QSM: Director of IEAG

I am originally from Wellington and now live in Auckland. I am proud Mum to three adult children one of whom lives with a communication impairment and experienced significant challenges during her schooling and tertiary study. I have a background in law and social work and have advocated to the national level for the education rights of disabled children and young people for over two decades. I am especially committed to improving children’s access to communication support services, recognising that communication is a basic human right and is vitally important to all aspects of life and wellbeing.  I was appointed to the role of Director in November 2022 after seven years as a Convenor of IEAG’s Governing Committee. I have previously worked as a social worker in intercountry adoption, an education advocate with IHC and had a fixed term position as senior disability rights advisor for the Human Rights Commission. In 2021 I was humbled and honoured to be awarded a Queens Service Medal for services to Inclusive Education.  
Rebekah Corlett MNZM
We are sad to report that Rebekah has recently resigned after six years on our Governing Committee. We wish to extend our grateful thanks for her contributions and support over the years.
Government response to key UN disability rights recommendations for improving disabled students right to inclusive a cause for concern.
In September 2022, we welcomed the release of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Concluding Observations. This followed the Committee’s August 2022 review of New Zealand’s progress on disability rights. IHC and IEAG provided a joint submission in advance to the review which can be read here. See also, Te Kāhui Tika Tangata New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s supplementary submission to the main report provided by the New Zealand Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM).
The recommendations included the closure of all residential institutions including residential specialist schools, withdrawal of the proposal to change entry requirements to residential specialist schools, redirection of funding and resources into an inclusive education system, to develop an inclusive education strategy that includes measures for the devolution of
segregated education settings into a mainstream inclusive education system, and to
develop specific culturally appropriate strategies to address the high proportion of Māori children with disabilities in residential specialist schools, including the provision of supports to remain with whānau in their local communities.
The Government’s plan for responding to the Committee’s recommendations was released on August 2023. Work lead by Whaikaha Ministry of Disabled People across government agencies resulted in 51 of 60 recommendations being accepted. IEAG shares the concerns of the Disability Rights Commissioner that, “while the Government has accepted the recommendation to close residential institutions over time and resource improved community-based services, it is critical to include residential special schools. The Commission was particularly concerned that some important recommendations were not accepted, including the development of culturally appropriate strategies to address the high proportion of tamariki Māori in residential specialist schools.”

IEAG was encouraged to note that in her report to the Cabinet Wellbeing Committee the Minister of Disability Issues, Hon Priyanca Radhakrishnan, acknowledged that aspects of the government response are likely to be strongly contested by disability rights advocates and will continue to receive adverse comment from the IMM. Paragraph 41.2 notes:
“The UN Committee has provided recent guidelines on deinstitutionalisation. They clearly indicate that schooling settings like residential specialist schools are seen as institutional given that they are only available to children based on impairing factors like behaviour. The Guidelines also indicate that institutional settings cannot be seen as an authentic choice for students and their families. The Ministry of Education has noted recommendations related to Residential Specialist Schools subject to further consideration of New Zealand based research and evidence and decisions by the Minister of EducationUnlike other noting recommendations, there is a possibility that these could be changed after the Minister’s consideration.” (Emphasis added)
New Zealand based research and evidence includes an International Literature Review on Residential Specialist Schools for Learning and Behaviour prepared for the Ministry of Education by Auckland University completed in April 2023.This was the first phase of a larger evaluation. In November 2023,the Minister of Education, Hon Jan Tinetti was reported as saying that, “she was waiting on a report from Auckland University on the schools before making any final decisions.” The second phase of this evaluation included looking “at how well ākonga who have entered residential schools through the direct referral pathway succeed educationally.” In July IEAG wrote to the Minister of Education, Hon Jan Tinetti, requesting a copy of the second phase of the Auckland University report under the Official Education Act 1982. Our request was transferred to the Ministry of Education who refused our request for a copy of the report. In her 17 August 2023 response the Minister advised that “The Ministry is providing advice to me, based on the University of Auckland’s evaluation of RSS and recommendations made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I will announce any decisions about changes to RSS in due course.”  
New Zealand’s human rights record – 4th Universal Periodic Review 2024 

Every five years, Aotearoa New Zealand’s human rights record is reviewed by the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, through a process called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). New Zealand’s next UPR is taking place between 29 April – 10 May 2024. The UN will review progress on key agreements, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The UPR is a State-driven process, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.
IEAG provided a written submission in May 2023 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade asking that the issue of disabled children and young people’s right to an inclusive education under Article 24 of the CRPD be included in New Zealand’s draft national report being prepared for public consultation.  
Aotearoa New Zealand’s Universal Periodic Review 2024 Draft National Report, available for public consultation in July 2023, claims New Zealand’s education system continues to evolve to better reflect, welcome and respond to the diversity and needs of all learners participating in education. Read the full draft report here.
Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission is encouraging civil society groups to make a submission for the UPR. It is vital that the UPR is informed by the experiences and knowledge of communities and experts in Aotearoa. IEAG will be making a submission. Civil society groups are able to make a submission for the UPR. The deadline for civil society submissions is 11 October 2023. Further information, including how to make a submission, can be found here.