As is the case in Australia, disabled people represent a large sector of the New Zealand population. While systemic factors contribute to poor employment outcomes for disabled people, there is some indication of significant ‘demand-side’ barriers to employment, including those relating to employer attitudes, ignorance and overall disinterest. One sector in which disabled people might be expected to be employed is the disability sector. The present study is an exploration of employment opportunities, barriers and success factors experienced by disabled people, wishing to gain employment in the disability sector and those working in the sector, seeking promotion. This paper presents findings from a focus group comprising disabled people, who are employed or currently seeking employment in the disability sector, convened to develop themes for the second individual interview phase of research. It is suggested that greater levels of employment of disabled people in a sector that exists to serve the interests of disabled people, has positive implications for choice and control for this group, along with reduced welfare benefit payments for the state. Only when disabled people are leading and managing the disability sector, will it be possible to assert that the sector reflects the voice of disabled people.

Pam MacNeill

PhD Student
Massey University - School of Health Sciences.

The research will be undertaken from an insider perspective. Pam is herself totally blind. During the past seven years, Pam has worked on some of the most critical, contemporary issues facing disabled New Zealanders. These include: • Roles with Disabled Persons Assembly, in 2010-2011, as National Leadership Mentor and Coordinator of the first Accessible Christchurch campaign, including production of submissions on the Christchurch recovery and rebuild. • Coordination of personnel and projects relating to the production of three monitoring reports for the New Zealand Convention Coalition Monitoring Group. These are available from: http://www.dpa.org.nz/resources/sector-resources/the-convention-disability-rights-in-aotearoa-new-zealand • Leading the implementation of the 36 recommendations in the Putting People First Quality Review, for Disability Support Services within the Ministry of Health. In 2016, Pam launched her disability consultancy: Disability Responsiveness New Zealand Ltd: http://www.drnz.co.nz/ The company produces and facilitates responsiveness training and capability building workshops throughout New Zealand, and a range of disability-related publications.

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