Disabled People's Organisations

This page presents information about Disabled People's Organisations and the DPO Coalition. You can find out about: the role and attributes of Disabled People's Organisations; how to find a representative from the DPO Coalition when seeking input into policy advice processes; and how to contact the DPO Coalition, or Disabled People’s Organisations individually.

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Representative organisations of disabled people

Disabled People's Organisations and the DPO Coalition

Requests for representation and input from the DPO Coalition into government processes 

How to contact Disabled People's Organisations in the DPO Coalition

Representative organisations of disabled people

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention), in Article 4(3), promotes the active involvement by government agencies of representative organisations of disabled people (referred to as Disabled People’s Organisations), which are governed by disabled people.

Over 2013/2014, the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 was developed through a collaborative process involving government agencies and national Disabled People’s Organisations. This work was coordinated by the Office for Disability Issues. Organisations that comprise the DPO Coalition have a history of working together under the Convention i.e. monitoring implementation of the Convention and working with government agencies.

The recognition of Disabled People’s Organisations that are distinct from other disability sector organisations recognises that disabled people themselves should have the opportunity to be around the table in matters affecting them. This development is acknowledged as the basis of the new way of working together and was agreed between the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues and the DPO Coalition in July 2014.

The evolving direct relationships between government agencies and Disabled People’s Organisations are in addition to, and do not replace or substitute, relationships with other disability sector organisations.

The Office for Disability Issues has supported the DPO Coalition to meet together and lead thinking about how working collaboratively with government agencies to implement the Convention can be advanced.

Disabled People's Organisations and the DPO Coalition

Alongside collaborating with government agencies to agree on priorities in the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018, the DPO Coalition developed a set of attributes that distinguish Disabled People’s Organisations from other organisations.

Any organisation can review the list of Disabled People’s Organisation Attributes and consider whether their organisation meets the criteria. Organisations in the DPO Coalition review themselves against the attributes annually.

An organisation wishing to join the DPO Coalition should write to the DPO Coalition and:

  • provide a short description of the role of their organisation in representing disabled people;
  • outline why they want to be recognised as a Disabled People’s Organisation; and
  • provide an assessment of their organisation against the Disabled People’s Organisation Attributes self-assessment tool.

The DPO Coalition will discuss and consider the application and may seek advice as required (including from the Office for Disability Issues). Discussion with the applying organisation may be part of this process.

Organisations should email their application including the completed (Disabled People’s Organisation attribute) self-assessment tool to the DPO Coalition at: dpo.coalition.nz@gmail.com.  Communications to the DPO Coalition should be accessible (MS Word, suggested font Arial minimum size 16pt).

Download - Disabled People’s Organisation Roles and Attributes [DOC, 49 KB]

Requests for representation and input from the DPO Coalition into government processes

Disabled People’s Organisations have a partnership with Government under the Convention.

As part of this partnership, the Government requires high level strategic input from Disabled People’s Organisations around rights-based approaches and/or decision-making. This is covered by Article 4.3:

In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organisations.

This input may take various forms ranging from technical advice through to a representative speaking on behalf of their Disabled People’s Organisation and/or the DPO Coalition.

Disabled People’s Organisations need the process for input and representation to be clear so that the overall partnership under the Convention is effective for both Disabled People’s Organisations and Government.

1.     Government obligations

  • To use this process to seek Disabled People’s Organisations input and representation for activity relating to the Convention's Article 4.3.
  • To include the agreed information in each request.
  • To refine the request if required by Disabled People’s Organisations feedback.
  • To fund the time and support costs of Disabled People’s Organisations representatives (if these are not already provided through existing funding arrangements with Disabled People’s Organisations).
  • To review the process overall from time to time to ensure that government agencies are delivering according to the Convention.

2.     DPO Coalition obligations

  • To respond to any requests made directly to their Disabled People’s Organisation to this process if the request relates to the Convention's Article 4.3.
  • To clarify what input is funded by existing funding arrangements, with anything additional to be funded directly by each project. To maintain a current list of Disabled People’s Organisations representatives.
  • To respond to requests for input or representation in a clear and timely way, including providing feedback on the request, as described in the process section below.
  • To review the process overall from time to time to ensure that the DPO Coalition are delivering according to the Convention.

3.     Content of the request

Requests must be clear about the nature of the work, priority with respect to the Disability Action Plan, duration, time commitment, skills required, payment (time and support costs) and due date.

The request needs to cover the following points:

  • An outline of the work, covering its purpose in relation to a rights-based approach and to the objectives of the Disability Action Plan, timeframes for the work and any key decision points. This tells us what the requester is trying to achieve.
  • Why input from disabled people is required; what types of input and representation are required for the project. Types of input are: lived experience, specific technical expertise, or expertise from a specific disability perspective. Types of representation (decision-making) include: representation from an individual Disabled People's Organisation, representation from several Disabled People's Organisations, representation on behalf of several Disabled People’s Organisations or representation on behalf of all Disabled People’s Organisations. This tells us what mix of input and representation (decision-making) the requester believes they need to deliver their objectives.
  • Is the input specific to a disability or generic to all disabilities?
  • Confirms which and how many organisations from the DPO Coalition need to be involved.
  • Is the role required to make decisions on behalf of one or more Disabled People’s Organisations? Are there any decisions required relating to Article 4.3 of the Convention? Clarity on where decisions will be made tells us whether a Disabled People’s Organisations governance person needs to be involved and what connection is required to Disabled People’s Organisations governance and decision-making processes.
  • What payment and support is provided for the representative?
  • This tells us whether the role is funded by the project or expected to be covered by Disabled People’s Organisations themselves.
  • Are Disabled People's Organisations deciding the representatives or are being asked for nominations for someone else to make the final decision. The representatives list will record nominating agency and appointing agency.

4.     Process

  • All requests for a representative or input from the DPO Coalition are to come via email to dpo.coalition.nz@gmail.com
  • If the request is incomplete, there will be discussion with the requester to clarify.
  • Confirmation that the expert input or representative role needs to be decided by the DPO Coalition. At this point, some requests will be confirmed as not relating to Article 4.3. When this occurs, the request may be referred by the DPO Coalition to individual Disabled People’s Organisations to deal with through their organisational process.
  • Requests for expert input or representative roles confirmed as relating to Article 4.3 will be managed through a nomination’s process. The DPO Coalition will seek nominations from Disabled People's Organisations. Nominations must be from a Disabled People's Organisation and include a description of the person's skills and suitability for the role. This is provided at least five working days before the date that the DPO Coalition will vote.
  • Voting occurs at the next DPO Coalition meeting or by email if required to meet the due date for the request.
  • Successful person(s) are advised and added to the DPO Coalition representatives list.
  • The requester will be advised of the name, contact details and reasonable accommodations required for representative(s) to participate.
  • Requestor must allow a minimum of six weeks, from the date of their request, for confirmation of the nominated representative(s).

How to contact Disabled People’s Organisations

Government agencies seeking advice or input from Disabled People’s Organisations on matters of particular relevance to their membership, should contact that organisation directly in the first instance. DPO Coalition members, a brief description of their membership and their organisation’s website address are listed in the following table.


Disabled People’s Organisation



Association of Blind Citizens New Zealand

(Blind Citizens NZ)

Blind, deafblind, vision-impaired, and low vision


Balance Aotearoa

People with mental health and addiction experience


Deaf Aotearoa

Deaf people


Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA)

Disabled people


Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand Inc  People with Muscular Dystrophy www.mda.org.nz

People First New Zealand Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi

People with learning (intellectual) disability


Kāpo Māori Aotearoa, was a founding member of the DPO Coalition. Kāpo Māori continues to work as a Disabled Persons Organisation but currently sits outside the DPO Coalition.

Contacting one or two individual Disabled People’s Organisations does not mean that you have engaged with the DPO Coalition.

Government agencies seeking advice or input from the DPO Coalition must engage with the Coalition as a whole. First read through the section above called ‘Requests for representation and input from the DPO Coalition into government processes’.

When you have all the required information you can contact the DPO Coalition through the following email address: dpo.coalition.nz@gmail.com

Please note that you will need to allow a minimum of six weeks for the nominations process from the date your completed request is received by the DPO Coalition.

Government agencies that are already working with the DPO Coalition on matters related to the Disability Action Plan must work with the DPO Coalition as a whole. To request an agenda item or to provide documentation for consideration at a DPO Coalition meeting, use the following email address: dpo.coalition.nz@gmail.com. All papers must be received at least six working days prior to the date of a DPO Coalition meeting to allow sufficient time for the members to consider the information provided. All papers must be in an accessible format i.e. MS Word, Arial 16 pt minimum.


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