What is advocacy?
As an organisation, a big part of our role is advocating for the people we support. This means we work to ensure your rights and wishes are respected and fulfilled. There are also a number of ways you can become your own strongest advocate. After all, you are the expert in your life, not anyone else!
In day-to-day terms, advocacy is useful if there are things in your life that aren’t working for you or your family as well as you would like them to. It’s a tool that can make sure you are treated with respect, get the resources you need to live a good life and have your rights upheld.
Some examples of advocacy in action are:
- Telling your Work and Income case manager that they are not treating you with respect.
- Making sure your school is providing enough support for your child.
- Telling the government about an unfair policy or law.
You can advocate for yourself or ask others (like us, a friend or family member or another agency) to help you.
What ‘advocacy’ looks like will be very different depending on what is going on for you. It might be a one-off issue or something longer term that’s affecting your life. It is important for you to know that being treated unfairly, or being discriminated against, because of your disability (or other reasons) is not ok.
You should expect to be in charge of your own life. Having this self-determination also means choosing where, when, and how you get help for any problems you might have.
If you’d like to get a better feeling for the areas of your life that are working well and some of the things that could be better, we have developed a self-reflection tool called How’s it Going?™ Many disabled people and families have found this helpful for assessing where things are at for them and to get them thinking about what’s next.
What are rights?
Human rights are what people need to live with dignity and enjoy freedom. All people have human rights and your rights are just as important as anyone else’s!
CCS Disability Action is a human rights-based organisation. This means we work in families to ensure the rights of a disabled person and their family and whānau are upheld, just like they are for other New Zealanders.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is one of CCS Disability Action’s founding documents. It sets out your rights as a disabled person, or those of your child. You can read more about the UNCRPD on the Office for Disability Issues website.
We are also committed to supporting the objectives of the New Zealand Disability Strategy. This provides a framework for government to begin removing the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating fully in society. If you’d like to learn more about the strategy, you can read more on the Office for Disability Issues website.
Your rights in New Zealand
There are two pieces of legislation that promote and protect your rights. One is the Human Rights Act 1993 and the other is the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
The Human Rights Act protects people in New Zealand from discrimination in a number of areas of life. The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act sets out a range of civil and political rights including, among other things, the right to freedom of expression, the right to religious belief, the right to freedom of movement and the right to be free from discrimination.
There are a number of things you can do if you would like to become a stronger self-advocate or would like someone to advocate for you.
The following organisations can help you understand your rights and help guide you if you’re experiencing a problem and you’re not sure, ‘Where to from here?’
- Human Rights Commission
- Health and Disability Commissioner
- Children's Commissioner
- Your local CCS Disability Action branch!
We also regularly share information and events about workshops and trainings (many of these are free) which can build your self-determination, knowledge and confidence over on our news site and Facebook page.