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Why a disabled staff group matters to us

The CCS Disability Action National Disabled Staff Leadership Team talks about the importance of disabled staff leadership to the organisation.

Within our organisation, we have a National Disabled Staff Leadership Team (NDSLT).  There are six regional coordinators, one for each region, and there is one based in our National Office. The team is under the leadership of Disability Partnership Leader Peter Wilson.  The role of the coordinators is to develop and support disabled staff within each area and to give feedback to the organisation based on the lived experience of disabled staff.  People have asked why do we need to do this.

One of our strategic priorities is Leadership – specifically it states CCS Disability Action fosters and supports people with disabilities in acts of leadership in life; within CCS Disability Action; within the communities in which we live.  Having a NDSLT gives CCS Disability Action a vehicle for this leadership.  We have resourced the team, offered training and asked for feedback from a lived experience perspective.  The NDSLT is people with disabilities providing leadership to the organisation.

So why do we need disabled people providing leadership?

Most organisations, including disability service providers, are made up of a majority of non-disabled people. Those individuals, who are part of this majority culture, may hold unconscious values, beliefs and attitudes that unwittingly create barriers for disabled people at personal and institutional levels. This can lead to subtle and often unintended discriminatory practices, which require reflection, discussion and attitudinal or practical changes.

It is this openness to self-reflection that has prompted CCS Disability Action to promote disability leadership in several ways, including the development of the NDSLT, who act as a resource in the development of projects and in highlighting issues for discussion and exploration. This information is essential to us improving the services we provide to disabled people and their family/whānau.  If we have staff who are aware of their attitudes, they are much more likely to provide a service that is responsive, respectful and of high quality. 

A disabled staff group is a resource to our organisation as we are a place to come to ask advice and guidance. While having an impairment does not exclude you from having discriminating attitudes yourself, hopefully it enables a disabled person to more easily be able to understand the experiences of another disabled person. We share the experience of being a minority.

Working along side disabled colleagues also gives other staff an opportunity to learn from our experiences and an opportunity to reflect on and change their own attitudes.  We have the opportunity to develop peer relationships and interact from an equal power base.

A disabled staff group also provides support to those group members who choose to join.  It can become a place where shared experiences are talked about and mutual understanding is developed.  A place where issues can be raised in a safe environment and solutions shared.  If you would like to know more about the NDSLT contact us.

National Disabled Staff Leadership Team

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