New Year Honours for those in the disability sector
Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit:
- Cindy Johns , for services to people with learning disabilities
- Grant Cleland , for services to disabled people
- Barry Clark , QSM, JP for services to the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association
Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit:
- Corey Nathan Peters , Wānaka, for services to sit-skiing
- Ruth Beatrice Gerzon , Whakatāne, for services to community development and social justice
And of course, it would be remiss of us not to point out that two of our team also received honours.
Matt Frost, Principal Advisor, received his Queen Service Medal for services to people with autism. As the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet put it:
Mr Matt Frost has been an advocate for the rights of disabled people, particularly people with autism, for more than 15 years.
Mr Frost began his service with CCS Disability Action Nelson-Marlborough in 2006. He was invited to Chair the Implementation Advisory Group for the New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline in 2008. This Guideline was the first in the World to take a whole-of-life view of Autism and how to support autistic people to live lives in the community. He was the Deputy Chair of the Living Guideline Group, a technical advisory group which updates the evidence in the Guideline until 2020. Mr Frost was a Policy and Information Researcher for Autism New Zealand for three years and regularly gives his time to meet with teachers and families to ensure they have an understanding of the lived experience of autism.
And Office for Disability Issues Director Brian Coffey becomes a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to people with disabilities.
Brian Coffey (Te Ātiawa ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara) has had a career in education as a teacher, educational psychologist and has held managerial roles for special education strategy.
Mr Coffey has been involved in disability and mental health provision as a support worker and at a national policy level. He has been involved in several government inter-agency initiatives regarding the disability sector and has been Director of the Office for Disability Issues since 2017. Under his leadership, the organisation has expanded from six employees to 18 and has been focused on disabled children and youth with additional support needs. He has led the development of the Positive Behaviour for Learning Initiative, the development of the ‘Success For All – Every School, Every Child’, which was the response to the government’s 2010 Review of Special Education. He has been a government representative at the United Nations examination of New Zealand’s Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He was an advisor to the development of the refresh of the ‘New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026’ and has led its implementation, alongside disabled people, through the development and implementation of the Disability Action Plan launched in 2019 through to 2023. Mr Coffey is a Board member for Pathways, a national provider of community-based mental health, addiction and wellbeing services.
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