Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views • Issue no. 22 January-March 2004

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New Zealand: Studying Cultural Perspectives on Disability

Robyn Hunt (robyn@iecho.co.nz)

The increasing cultural and ethnic diversity of New Zealand society has led one of the country’s largest national disability service providers to look at different cultural perspectives on disability.

Besides New Zealanders of European and indigenous (Maori) origins, there are increasing numbers of people from Pacific Islands, Chinese, Indian and other Asian peoples, as well as people who have come as refugees from countries such as Somalia and Iran. People with disabilities from ethnic minorities do not always know about or use support services.

CCS is looking for people with lived experience of disability, lived experience of a particular culture, and would be able to make links within a particular community to draw on community perspectives.

Paul Gibson, National Policy Manager for NZCCS explains that although there are many examples of best practice available on the Internet and elsewhere they are mostly from a Western perspective.

He says that the scope has been left deliberately wide so aspects of disability culture such as cultural difference between congenital and acquired disability might also be researched as well as the cultural perspectives of different ethnic communities.

Several small research grants of NZ$500 or NZ$1000 are available to students, part time or voluntary community workers in the disability field in New Zealand

CCS expects any research funded to explore what impairment and disability means in the researcher’s own culture, in the place of the origin of the culture, historically, and in modern day New Zealand.

It should also assist CCS in developing policy and lobbying by providing information on diverse cultural perspectives on disability, and to establish relationships within diverse communities.

Researchers will share findings with CCS, and make findings available through the CCS library, one of the country’s best disability libraries. These findings may have relevance and interest beyond New Zealand.

Research should be completed and results available by June 30th 2004.

For more information, contact Paul Gibson, National Policy Manager, CCS pgibson@no.ccs.org.nz

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