An exciting and significant development for Balance NZ has been the invitation to become the “official” organisation representing Tangata Whaiora/ Mental Health service users in a forum of disability organisations working with government. This is the first time that Tangata Whaiora have been represented in the arena of disability.

The forum has been called to help develop a comprehensive Disability Action Plan to ensure Aotearoa New Zealand is fully responding to its obligations under the “Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities”, which New Zealand signed in 2008.

Four of the most important issues for Balance NZ to advocate for are:

  • The need for a comprehensive review of the Mental Health Act
  • Ending the practice of seclusion in mental health services
  • The need to address the physical health needs of those treated (especially for “serious mental illnesses”) in our mental health services. It has recently been confirmed that Tangata Whaiora with serious diagnoses die 20-25 years earlier than the general population.
  • The need to address both overt and covert systemic stigma and abuse of Tangata Whaiora

There are also a number of issues shared with other disabilities regarding legal capacity, increasing employment and education opportunities (including reviewing discriminatory minimum wage exclusion practices); equity of access to a wide range of services etc.