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Viewing entries tagged with 'disability'

A life of paradox, power and privilege

Posted by Philip on 17 January 2015, 11:01 am in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

arrow pointing left and rightFollowing on from my last post about rebranding, I’ve also changed how I describe myself or, more accurately, my experience. I talk about "my paradoxical experience as a queer, caucasian, cisgender man with unique function (disability).”

Even doing this is paradoxical, given I argued the point in 2012 at TEDxAuckland that we need to decay labels to reveal diversity. But I’m doing it to explain a phenomenon of power, privilege and paradox, rather than to label myself.

Power and privilege have long been part of the politics of diversity and discrimination. Recently I heard another diversity expert, Leslie Hawthorne, encourage those with privilege to raise awareness of it by, for example, not using the word “lame" to describe something that is bad or stupid, because you are implying that people who can’t walk are bad or stupid*.

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I had restricted access to voting booth then was treated like a second-class citizen by election officials because I use a wheelchair

Posted by Philip on 5 September 2014, 3:29 pm in , , , , , ,

orange elections mascotUPDATE 09 September 2014: I'm pleased to say I have been contacted by the Electoral Commission and the Grey Lynn Returning Officer since writing this email/post.

Email to the Electoral Commission


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The most offensive part of this meme is its spelling!

Posted by Philip on 13 August 2014, 11:24 am in , , , , , , ,

George Takei, Star Trek's inimitable Mr Sulu, has been chastised by disability rights activists for posting a Facebook meme.

Said meme depicts, from behind, a woman standing from her wheelchair to reach a bottle of (presumably) wine, with the words, "There has been a miracle in the alcohol isle [sic]."

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Child's medical treatment highlights tension between principles and reality

Posted by Philip on 19 May 2014, 12:13 pm in , , , ,

Charley and her mumMy attention was drawn this morning to this TVNZ Sunday segment about Charley, the girl with significant brain damage due to medical misadventure at birth. Her parents opted for the "Ashley Treatment", hormone therapy that will keep her small and infertile for her whole life.

The parents' decision has had human rights advocates, ethics comittees and open-minded medical professionals at loggerheads. Does the treatment breach her human rights or will it allow her to be cared for by her parents and avoid a family history of heavy menstral bleeding and pain?

I can see both sides. I think it's the sort of issue that gets polarised. As Charley's mum said, it shouldn't be easy to do and I think the scrutiny is important to ensure people's rights aren't run roughshod over. While I share some of the concerns relating to human rights and ethics (many have fought long and hard to secure them), I don't think for one minute these parents should be demonised for wanting to protect their daughter from discomfort and possible institutionalised care as she grows.

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The one thing most #employers get wrong about #recruitment (and it's potentially #unlawful)

Posted by Philip on 6 May 2014, 10:13 am in , , , , , , , , ,

paper-money-people-Twice in the last week I've been confronted by the issue of asking employment applicants whether they have any health or disability-related needs or requirements. First at a Human Resources Institute diversity event; and then on the application form for a part-time position I have applied for.

The practice seems quite prevalent among employers, who seem unaware that it is a potential breach of human rights. Based on the four years I spent working for the Human Rights Commission, let me explain the problems, risks and solutions. 

The problem

Section 23 of the NZ Human Rights Act 1993 states:

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Social Development Ministry policy contradictions threaten employment for people with disabilities

Posted by Philip on 2 May 2014, 12:49 pm in , , , , , ,

@If you are concerned about this issue please copy, revise as necessary and email this letter to

Hon Paula Bennett
Parliament Buildings

Dear Minister

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Thinking about the box, rather than outside it

Posted by Philip on 13 April 2014, 2:01 pm in , , , , , , , , , , ,

box with question marksWe often hear people utter the mantra, “Think outside the box.” It’s become the hold-all for creative thinking, problem solving and even good leadership.

But how often do we often think about the box itself? How often do we consider that, by thinking outside it, we stray away from the box — even ignore it completely — and miss the truth of the matter:

The box is the problem. It’s too big, too small, the wrong shape, the wrong colour.

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Diversity — are you trying to get it right?

Posted by Philip on 12 November 2013, 4:04 pm in , , , , , , , , , , , ,


If you are, you're very likely to get it wrong.

Organisations that build cultures that require people to do the right thing in regards to culture, gender, sexuality, function (disability) etc, create behaviours governed by fear. People will avoid engagement in order to stay safe, because they'll be scared of getting it wrong.

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On needing to run a marathon to feel fully human

Posted by Philip on 5 November 2013, 10:19 am in , , , , ,

On 4 November 2013, 3 News' Mike McRoberts quoted Peter Loft, the head of the Achilles Foundation, which has been sending disabled athletes to the New York marathon for 20 years:

"They come here with disabilities — and they leave feeling like full human beings."

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Oops, awkward — Govt fails Deaf over family violence DVD

Posted by Philip on 11 September 2013, 11:10 am in , , , , , ,

The media release below highlights a significant gaff on Government's behalf, failing to connect the dots between its social teams and campaigns. What isn't mentioned is the  low profile Think Differently campaign, which aims "to encourage and support a fundamental shift in attitudes and behaviour towards disabled people," which seems out of the loop. There also exists a Domestic Violence and Disability working group, which also seems to have been overlooked in the process.

It will be interesting to see how this slip up is addressed. Easy mistake, but will there be an opportunity for a quick fix?

11 September 2013

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