Congratulations to NZRA life member and current board member Anne Hawker on becoming an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to disabled people.
We caught up with Anne and asked her about her Queen’s Honour. Anne says she was humbled but proud to be acknowledged for her work.
Anne became the first woman president of Rehabilitation International and used that to “assist disabled women to have a different life,” says Anne. She’s also proud to have been President of the Disabled Persons Assembly and get the Human Rights Act passed as well as the Disability Survey.
Despite having achieved so much, Anne still sees potential for more change and development within the disability space. “[I’d like to see a] continued move from special into mainstream and clearer when specialised services are required,” says Anne. She’d also like to see more community development in rehabilitation, and for rehabilitation to be available to everyone.
Anne also wants disability to be part of the diversity conversation, for the stigma towards disabled people removed, for people’s strengths not their deficits to be seen, and for a move away from the medical model to the social model.
“Disabled people are proud of who we are, and we are proud to use the term disabled people without having others define us,” She adds.
Anne says that her career path chose her, as she had to give up teaching after being diagnosed with disseminated sclerosis.
We asked Anne why people should come to the NZRA conference this year. “Be part of the conversation to drive change in the rehabilitation sector to ensure you contribute to a revitalised and relevant rehabilitation sector.”
The full impact of Anne’s work cannot be measured as her work has been life-changing for so many, but milestones in her career were curated for the Queen’s Honours announcement, and we’ve added some others that need acknowledging.
• President of Otago DPA & Otago MS Society
• Setting up Total Mobility in Otago
• The first non-DHB to establish a home support service for ACC
• Established the first stroke club and carers group in New Zealand
• Set up the attendant care scheme in Otago
• Member of the Taieri Social Service & Dunedin Social Service Committee
• Ran the Dunedin women’s school girl cricket competition
• Managed the Otago women’s school girl cricket and school girl hockey teams
• President of Rehabilitation International from 2008 to 2012 and chaired their Social Commission from 2000 to 2008.
• Played a leading role in Rehabilitation International’s work towards the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
• President of the Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand from 1993 to 1997, where she led and partnered a range of policy initiatives and championed all issues facing disabled people from employment, data, human rights; education, health and accessibility.
• Advocated for the New Zealand Disability Strategy, which then became New Zealand’s negotiating mandate for the UNCRPD.
• Treasurer of the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association and the Federation of Disability Information Service in the late 1980s and 1990s.
• New Zealand’s representative to the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Society from 1988 to 1993.
• CEO of the Head Injury Society in 1995/1996.
• Principal Disability Advisory for MSD since 2007. With the Ministry for Social Development, she singlehandedly implemented the ‘Lead Toolkit: A guide for employing disabled people’, published in 2018.
• Instrumental in establishing the ‘We Enable Us’ network, providing leadership on effective and inclusive employment of disabled people in the public sector.
• Been a driving force behind ‘The Accessibility Charter’.
Well done Anne, we are so proud of you and your achievements so far! And we are grateful for your ongoing involvement in the NZRA.