site

Kia ora

1 comment

Welcome to my blog. My interests are wide and it may take some time to write about all of them. You can expect posts about: cities (urban design, transport, etc), design, disability, eHealth, enterprise (both business and social), our environment, health policy, leading, music, New Zealand politics (#nzpol), science, screenculture, technology,  and the delights that bring joy to life.

We’ll start with some items about disability that will be cross-posted from now onwards over at Public Address’s new Access blog. Proud to be part of it.

Great to have you along, and please do spread the word.

Share This

Licensing

A worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/kia-ora/

nzpol

Reporting in the wake of Dirty Politics

262 comments

So how did I come to write this?

After Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics book revealed how some political operatives have influenced media coverage, you’d expect journalists to be a bit more careful now on the campaign trail, right? Not to risk being played.

There are understandable pressures on daily journalists and Hager made clear his utmost respect for the challenges they face when interviewed on Media Take. Newsrooms no longer have the time or the staff to check over stories. Perhaps they also lack the time and space to reflect on the ethics and standards that guide a profession with such a privileged place in our democracy?

When a political party campaigning for re-election claims their opponents are ‘politicising’ an issue, it’s not OK for a professional journalist to just say that the opponent ‘denies’ the claim without saying where it came from. When we have heard for the last few weeks about such lines being regularly fed to compliant media outlets, it really won’t wash. So when one of TVNZ’s political reporters tweeted this:

I was moved to retweet some responses..

After seeing the same line from another reporter at the event, I was annoyed…

Unsurprisingly my tone (sorry Katie) prompted an offended response..

I sought to clarify who I was really annoyed about..

And others offered remedies..

‘Not taking sides’ is a false touchstone when you’re dealing with unequal power..

A few exchanges followed, touching on Jay Rosen’s highly-relevant notion of ‘savvy’ political journalism. Thoroughly recommended article, that, especially if you’re a political journalist.

Yet still

Rumi contributed this unfortunate misdirection..

Other journalists joined in..

The issue is beyond party politics and nothing I wrote indicated otherwise. Unhelpfully, the line was repeated in a skewed summary of the conversation..

“But the reply that really sums it up is Ruminator … so much of the criticism of the media is based on them reporting things that those criticising them don’t agree with, or like.”

Nice smear, Mr Beveridge. Academic standards seem to be suffering lately as well. You did motivate me to write this though, so thanks.

Matthew has since updated his blogpost. Cheers.
Others stayed faithful to the original issue..

Let’s see what makes it to the screen.

nzpol

Capital gains, personal deficits

No comments yet

As New Zealand approaches a national election, are we grasping the fragility of both our economy and political system?

Distorted priorities

During the first televised large parties leaders’ debate [TVNZ clip since removed] last night (   or ), one topic raised was the (left-leaning) Labour party’s plans to introduce a Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Current (right-leaning) National party Prime Minister John Key pointed out that such a tax would affect not only residential property speculators (of whom we have too many), but also small businesses and the farms whose interests his party represents in a long-standing internal coalition with urban conservatives.

Over the last few decades, New Zealand’s income and wealth inequality has become exceptional. A larger share of profits has gone to owners and shareholders rather than the workers who have helped produce them, and who in turn are the customers of other businesses.

Imported capital via bank mortgages has also been directed into our over-priced speculative housing market. That collective debt dwarfs the government’s one. Productive enterprises and assets have been loaded with debt or sold to foreign interests, resulting in permanent national deficits as profits (including from our Australian-owned banks) flow offshore. Our farms are also indebted to the hilt, with farmers increasingly reliant on untaxed capital gains when they sell rather than profits from their production.

All those debts must eventually be paid off – or exchanged for equity until most of this nation is no longer ours. This government is playing a confidence game that it can grow profits fast enough to stave that off. Big gamble, even for a currency trader.

Over time, a CGT could help share accumulated profits back to workers via the government as well as steer investment into productive business rather than property speculation. New Zealand has a desperate need to re-shape our economy away from reliance on extractive primary industries and cyclical commodity markets.

Climate change adds both pressure and opportunity to create a more sustainable future. Shipping highly-designed products, skilled services and ideas rather than milk powder is likely to keep smart young people working and raising families here. There will be more pressure on health and social services as our Baby Boomer bulge reaches their senior years.

A hugely indebted housing and farming sector who have factored untaxed capital gains into their calculations acts as a brake on change. However, the pressure is building.

Earlier in the day a tax law specialist told me he had heard murmurings that National was actually planning to introduce a CGT themselves, after long resistance. We agreed they would probably be inclined to offset it with further personal and company tax cuts rather than social investment. So there may yet be a tax carrot dangled if National’s daily polling by David Farrar’s company Curia shows they need to pull something out of the hat between now and election day on September 20th.

Personal integrity

Despite his optimistic opening sentiments, the PM appeared increasingly rattled and curiously disinterested as the debate unfolded. I was invited to be part of the Green Party-hosted parallel event The Green Room ( ) and ended up standing next to the feisty Lucy Lawless during much of the time as we watched the live feed. She leaned over at one stage and observed that he seemed to be already thinking about his next job in international finance or somesuch.

Then Russell Brown interviewed us.

Russell Brown interviewing Lucy Lawless and Sacha Dylan during The Green Room 2014. Photo: Ken Spagnolo.

Some hours earlier, Key was confronted with allegations that the Minister he has been refusing to hold accountable over her serial misdemeanours this year may have been doing the numbers to roll him if it would help secure a coalition with a party whose leader personally dislikes him.

That Minister is also central to the network of underhand influence outlined in Nicky Hager’s recent book Dirty Politics which has dominated political discourse with details of collusion by a variety of people who sewer rats would look down on.

Hager delivered a great speech at a Human Rights Fundation-hosted event the night before the debate (watch below). He spoke beautifully about the damage it does to our democracy if we tolerate people and organisations behaving unethically.  As voters we have to take responsibility for the quality of the people we choose to represent us. We need to be able to trust them to make some difficult decisions for our shared future.

Sharing wealth fairly and productively is one of those decisions.

 

Share This

Licensing

A worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/capital-gains-personal-deficits/

disability

One in Four – NZ Disability Survey

No comments yet

A focused Disability Survey has been conducted after each national Census since 1996. This is the only official source of data about disabled New Zealanders. The first data from the 2013 Disability Survey has been released, focusing on demographic details. Later releases will add detail about needs and barriers.

A Million

The headline finding is that there are now over 1 million disabled people in New Zealand. That’s 24% or about one in four of the total population.

If we understand disability as the interaction between how a person functions and how the world functions, there will obviously be a great variety of combinations. They will be affected by things like a person’s surroundings, life-stage and resources.

Age

The disability rate increases dramatically with age. The survey shows 59% of people aged 65+ are disabled,  compared with just 11% of under-15s and 27% of all adults.

Different age distributions also help explain variations of disabled population rates across different regions and ethnic groups.

Gender

Overall, disabled people reflect the gender split of the total population – 51% female and 49% male.

However 13% of boys are disabled compared with 8% of girls.

After age 15, the proportions are roughly similar but a greater number of women than men are disabled, partly because they tend to live longer.

Graph shows disabled males as a proprtion of males in broad age brackets.

disab2013_101-female

Impairment Type

The Disability Survey groups personal impairment into broader categories based on answers about activities people have difficulty doing. I have further combined some here. There are some fundamental problems with the way Statistics NZ understands disability and impairment, but this is all we have for now. This graph shows the prevalence of impairment types for disabled New Zealanders by age:

disab2013_402-imp-type

Impaired mobility affects 14% ( one in seven) of the whole NZ population.

Impaired mobility, hearing and agility affect a higher proportion of older people than children.

Impaired thinking, learning, mental health and speaking affect a higher proportion of children than older people.

Impaired mobility and agility affect more women than men. Impaired hearing affects more men than women (no surprise to some).

53% of disabled people have more than one type of impairment. Greedy, I know.

Internal Proportions

Updating my list from previous Disability Surveys,
out of every 9 disabled New Zealanders:

  • 5 have impaired mobility (getting around) = 567k.
  • 4 have impaired thinking, learning or remembering = 470k.
  • 3 have impaired hearing = 380k.
  • 3 have impaired agility (grabbing things, etc) = 324k.
  • 2 have impaired mental health = 242k.
  • 1 has impaired vision = 168k.
  • 1 has impaired speaking = 128k.

Share This

Licensing

Quoted and linked content is licensed by Statistics New Zealand under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence.

Otherwise, a worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com. To raise any concerns over rights, please contact me right away.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/one-in-four-nz-disability-survey

disability

More Disabled New Zealanders

No comments yet

1 ,062,000 faces. The 2013 round of the only government survey about disability shows disabled people’s proportion of New Zealand’s population is now 24%.

That’s about one in four. In the 1996 and 2001 surveys it was one in five. In 2006 it was one in six though Statistics NZ is wisely discounting that inexplicable outlier now.

The first set of information released from the 2013 Disability Survey focuses on population proportions. Later releases will add detail about needs.

Why more?

The department says the rise this time may be because of better surveying, more older people, and improving attitudes about disability.

The proportion of the New Zealand population in older age groups is growing, and people in these age groups are more likely to be disabled than younger adults or children.
However, population ageing does not account for all of the increase. People may be more willing to report their limitations as public perception of disability changes; methodological improvements to the survey could also be a contributing factor.

The influence of age

The disability rate increases dramatically with age. The 2013 Disabilty Survey shows 59% of people aged 65+ are disabled,  compared with just 11% of under-15s.

Different age distributions also help explain variations of disabled population rates across different regions and ethnic groups.

Impairment types

Updating my list from previous surveys, out of every 9 disabled New Zealanders:

  • 5 have impaired mobility (getting around) = 567k.
  • 4 have impaired thinking, learning or remembering = 470k.
  • 3 have impaired hearing = 380k.
  • 3 have impaired agility (grabbing things, etc) = 324k.
  • 2 have impaired mental health = 242k.
  • 1 has impaired vision = 168k.
  • 1 has impaired speaking = 128k.

53% of disabled people have more than one type of impairment. Greedy, I know.

Half the picture

Statistics NZ aren’t quite there yet in understanding disability:

For the 2013 Disability Survey, we defined a disability as: ‘an impairment which has a long-term limiting effect on a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Long-term means six months or longer and limiting effect means a restriction or lack of ability to perform.’

You’ll notice they are missing the whole ‘interaction with surroundings’ part of the model underpinning both the official NZ Disability Strategy and the UN Disability Convention. They’re actually only measuring impairment, though their analysis does not reflect that.

But then they’re hardly alone, and any information is better than none. People working with other population groups this size may be astonished to hear that this 5-yearly survey is the only one about disability conducted by our government, and that we have no cross-tabs into the rest of Statistics NZ’s $90m annual spend on public statistics. This is also the first survey in the series with de-prioritised ethnicity. Stats geeks will get what that shows.

Less than half the picture

Let’s also note in passing that Statistics NZ shares the ignorance of some other international agencies in adopting an inconsistent approach rooted in not understanding what disability is.

People were not considered to have a disability if an assistive device (such as glasses or crutches) eliminated their impairment.

Cured! So people who use hearing aids and spectacles don’t count as impaired (“a disability” = an impairment). However, people who use wheelchairs do count. Go figure.

Share This

Licensing

Quoted and linked content is licensed by Statistics New Zealand under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence.

Otherwise, a worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com. To raise any concerns over rights, please contact me right away.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/more-disabled-new-zealanders

cities

Auckland CBD waterfront projects emerge

No comments yet

As New Zealand enters another investment cycle after the 2008 global financial crisis, commercial projects centred on our biggest city’s gorgeous downtown waterfront begin to spring into public view.

As the astute Transport Blog notes, recently-announced projects involve trading public space for private investment.

Metro magazine editor Simon Wilson examines the implications of proposed cbd cultural/tourism projects and some of the local politics involved in decision-making about them.

Share This

Licensing

A worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post, though quoted or linked material may be licensed separately. To raise any concerns over rights, please contact me right away. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/auckland-cbd-waterfront-projects-emerge/

disability

Revealing Words

5 comments

Historically there have been many different ways of talking about disability and the people who experience it.

Understanding about disability varies, even amongst disabled people and disability-focused organisations. There’s not even clear agreement about what to call us.

However if you’re writing about disabled people, using any of these words suggests you’re making disabling assumptions that aren’t helping:

  • suffer, struggle
  • bound, confined
  • lets
  • despite
  • overcome
  • inspiring
  • brave
  • special

If you find yourself using any of these, ask how you’re picturing the person and their place in the situation:

  • Are you imagining how you might feel if you became them right now?
  • Is the person’s value solely in terms of what they teach others about ourselves?
  • Are they a helpless victim to you? Or are they a noble exception to that, due to their ‘pluck’?
  • How will other disabled people respond to reading your description?
  • Do you really need to delve into medical details or describe how someone became disabled? Is that actually relevant to your story? It might be interesting to reflect on your motivation or what you’ve been taught to ask.

Some specific outdated words are simply unacceptable in any circumstances except a list of words to avoid, eg: handicapped, cripple, spastic, retard. You get the picture.

What other words or phrases have you noticed are red flags?

Share This

Licensing

A worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/revealing-words/

disability

Your Relationship With Disability

No comments yet

It’s often useful to consider how we each relate to disability, so we understand better where one another are coming from . Think about which of these apply to you (may be more than one):

  • (A)  I am a disabled person.
  • (B)  I have a family member who is a disabled person.
  • (C) I am a parent of a disabled person.
  • (D)  I have a friend who is a disabled person.
  • (E)  I have a workmate who is a disabled person.
  • (F)  I do disability-related work.
  • (G)  I have studied disability.
  • (H)  I do not know much about disability but I’m interested.
  • (I)  Other – please describe.

Which of those fit for you? (no strings) And how does that shape your thinking?

This post is also at Public Address’s Access blog.

Share This

Licensing

A worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this page. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/your-relationship-with-disability/

disability

Disability Stakeholders

1 comment

Some types of people and organisations commonly come up when we discuss disability. My understanding of them flows from how I think about disability. There are other ways, which you are free to raise and discuss below. And let me know if I have missed anything.

To me, the main stakeholder types are:

  • Disabled people.
  • Parents and families of disabled people.
  • Disability change movements.
  • Organisations of disabled people.
  • Organisations who provide services for disabled people or families.
  • Agencies whose purpose relates to disability.

Disabled people are those of us who have impairments and experience disability.

However, if we understand disability as the interaction of personal impairment and social process then the experience of disability comes in different forms and intensity – and is not actually restricted to disabled people. Attempts to reassert primacy have resulted in phrases like ‘people living with disability’ and ‘people with direct experience of disability’. Having impairments and experiencing disability are both required to be a disabled person. If there is a simpler word for that, I’m all ears.

Parents and families of disabled people may experience the social process of disability quite strongly at times. However, there is a difference between being a disabled person and loving or living with one. Extra reliance on family for support can amplify the usual struggles most parents face letting their children take risks and live their own lives.

Disabled people and families are often spoken of together as the ‘disabled community‘. However, there are significant power differences and speaking on behalf of disabled family members has long been a source of tension.

Disability change movements are active groupings of people and organisations who are motivated by improving the world for disabled people and families, though often only in particular aspects or for specific subgroups of people. These are mostly powered by disabled people, families and organisations.

Coordination between movements, resources, skills and strategic planning for sustained action are  challenges. Disabled people and our organisations have much to learn from other social change movements.

Organisations of disabled people (‘DPOs’) are intended to represent the interests of disabled people, and to be comprised of them. The United Nations disability rights convention recognises DPOs as ‘civil society’ organisations with a special representative role. The main national DPOs in New Zealand serve distinct impairment-based populations and work together as the ‘Convention Coalition’ that has an official role in monitoring implementation on the Convention. DPOs include the Disabled Peoples Association (DPA), People First, the Deaf Association, and the Association of Blind Citizens (ABC).

Service providers deliver a variety of services focused on the immediate needs of disabled people and/or families, often focused on particular impairments.  These are the mostly non-profit organisations familiar to the public over decades, such as CCS, IHC,  the Foundation of the Blind and the National Foundation for the Deaf. Their role has often evolved to blur advocacy with service provision – another common source of tension. Some government departments are also significant contractors of or providers of services, as are District Health Boards.

Agencies regulate and support the workings of what is often called the ‘disability sector’*, but do not provide support services as such. Both central and local government contributes to this role.

* The disability sector is frequently mis-conceptualised to contain not only the service providers, DPOs and agencies, but also disabled people and families. This mashes together a variety of perspectives and needs and  does not recognise the different power, resources and mandates of stakeholders.

It also defines disabled people mainly as users of disability services, which is untrue for about half of us. Even then, this error reflects a curiously dependent and institutionalised understanding of our places as citizens and consumers.

By comparison, when someone says ‘education sector’ we do not usually think of students and their families but only of the people and organisations who work to deliver them an education. Discussing the ‘retail sector’ does not normally include its customers.

This post is also at Public Address’s Access blog.

Share This

Licensing

A worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post, Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/disability-stakeholders

disability

Who Are Disabled New Zealanders?

3 comments

Disabled people are part of every community and grouping in New Zealand. However, most surveys do not ask about us, and we’re poorly understood for various reasons. Let’s start fixing that together.

How many

Official Census results every five years or so say disabled people are between 1/6th and 1/5th of all New Zealanders.

That’s 750 – 900 thousand people. More than you thought, right?

Proportions

More older people than younger people are disabled in some way. The impending surge in retiring ‘boomers’ is relevant, because about half of all over-65s are disabled.

Disability affects more boys than girls and more older women than older men, but matches our gender balance overall.

More Pakeha and Maori people are disabled than Pacific or Asian people – which might reflect immigration restrictions, or something else we don’t know about yet because nobody has studied it.

Disabled people tend to be poorer, less educated, and far less likely to be employed. That restricts a whole lot of options.

Impairment happens through birth, illness, accident and ageing. At what stage of our life it happens has a big impact, but is not recorded in most statistics. About half of disabled people have more than one form of impairment.

Out of every 9 disabled New Zealanders:

  • 5 have impaired mobility (getting around).
  • 3 have impaired hearing.
  • 3 have impaired thinking, understanding or remembering.
  • 3 have impaired agility (grabbing things, etc).
  • 1 has impaired vision.
  • 1 has impaired mental health.

How impaired?

It’s also a matter of degree:

  • Most people with impaired mobility do not use wheechairs. They may just be unsteady on their feet or have trouble climbing stairs or walking long distances. Only 1 in 10 mobility parking permit holders have wheelchairs – please think about that before you abuse the other 9.
  • Most people with impaired vision are not blind. They are more likely to need larger text and clearly-marked steps rather than braille or a guide dog.
  • Most people with impaired hearing are not part of the Deaf community who share New Zealand Sign Language. Their needs can be rather different.
  • Only about half of disabled people use disability support services, equipment or organisations.
  • Only 4% of disabled people live in institutions. Most of us live in our own places or share with others like everyone else does.
  • Many disabled people don’t think of ourselves as disabled most of the time. Only when we encounter disabling settings or circumstances.

Remember all of that when you’re looking for a ‘representative’ group. What would you like to know more about?

This post is also at Public Address’s new Access blog.

Share This

Licensing

A worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post, though quoted or linked material may be licensed separately. To raise any concerns over rights, please contact me right away. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/who-are-disabled-new-zealanders/

leading

Clever Equations

No comments yet

Owen Woodhouse, the architect of New Zealand’s world-leading accident compensation scheme, ACC, has died aged 97.

ACC ended the reign of lawyers. It brought certainty of relief for thousands of New Zealanders. In later years it has suffered a fair bit of tinkering as some governments have readied it for privatisation.

The scheme also displayed the morality of its founders. Here’s Sir Owen in a 2012 interview:

“The social responsibilities which underpin ACC ought never to be tested by clever equations, or brushed to one side by economic dogma. In the end, they depend on decent fellow feeling and the ideas and ideals that support it.”

Share This

Licensing

A worldwide Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License applies to this post, though quoted or linked material may be licensed separately. To raise any concerns over rights, please contact me right away. Please attribute content to Sacha Dylan and link back to http://sachadylan.com.

Permalink

http://sachadylan.com/clever-equations/