Disabled People's Organisations Coalition

Learn about the Disabled People's Organisations Coalition (DPO Coalition).

About the DPO Coalition

Vision, role and mandate

The DPO Coalition’s vision is: “Full achievement of Disability Rights equality in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

The DPO Coalition’s primary role is to increase the collective impact of DPOs to achieve Disability Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Disability Convention or UNCRPD) and associated treaties and documents.  

The DPO Coalition’s role is mandated by the UNCRPD, which New Zealand ratified in 2008. Specifically, Article 4(3) promotes the active involvement by government agencies of representative organisations of disabled people (referred to as Disabled People’s Organisations or DPOs), which are governed by disabled people.  

Article 33 promotes the Government’s role in implementing the UNCRPD, its requirement to recognise an independent monitoring framework i.e., the Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM), and the role of disabled people and their representative organisations in the monitoring process.  

Upholding a civil society role as representative organisations, the DPO Coalition plays an active and influential role within the IMM and through ‘disabled people-led’ monitoring work.

General Comment No.7 on the participation of persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organisations, in the implementation and monitoring of the UNCRPD, also offers clarification to States Parties on their obligations under Articles 4(3) and 33(3) and their implementation. The obligations of States Parties also include the financial resourcing of DPOs.  

The Government is obliged to consult with DPOs. Specifically, the UNCRPD states: “In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations”. 

Current members

The DPO Coalition currently consists of the following six members.

Disabled People's Organisation Membership Website
Association of Blind Citizens New Zealand (Blind Citizens NZ)  Blind, deafblind, vision-impaired, and low-vision  www.blindcitizensnz.org.nz external URL  
Balance Aotearoa  People with mental health and addiction experience  www.balance.org.nz external URL
Deaf Aotearoa  Deaf people www.deaf.org.nz external URL  
Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA)  Disabled people www.dpa.org.nz external URL  
Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand Inc People with Neuromuscular conditions www.mda.org.nz external URL  
People First New Zealand 
Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi 
People with learning (intellectual) disability  www.peoplefirst.org.nz external URL

Kāpo Māori Aotearoa was a founding member of the DPO Coalition. Kāpo Māori continues to work as a Disabled Persons Organisation but currently is not a member of the DPO Coalition. 

There are other Disabled People’s Organisations in New Zealand and eligible DPO’s can apply to the join the DPO Coalition. You can learn more in our 'Attributes' section.

Some DPO Coalition members are affiliated with international bodies, such as the World Blind Union, World Federation of the Deaf, Inclusion International, Rehabilitation International, Disabled Peoples’ International, Pacific Disability Forum, and the International Disability Alliance. 

Representatives on Advisory Groups 

The DPO Coalition provides a well established and respected ‘voice’ mechanism. Advice provided by the DPO Coalition represents the collective views of the organisations’ members and is provided with the intention that disabled people’s rights are progressively realised.

The DPO Coalition expects that Government agencies seek advice from them on a ‘first and last’ basis. This means that before broader engagement starts, the agency comes to the DPO Coalition to discuss their proposal, and then again lastly, before implementing changes.  

The DPO Coalition has a close working relationship with Whaikaha. Whaikaha’s senior managers including the Chief Executive, regularly attend DPO Coalition meetings.

The DPO Coalition has three members on the Whaikaha Strategic Advisory Group.

The DPO Coalition currently has representatives on the following Government advisory groups:

  • Enabling Good Lives Leadership Group
  • Disability Data and Evidence Working Group
  • NCEA Learning and Support Advisory Group
  • Patient Profile National Health Index (PPNHI) Disability Data Project
  • PPNHI Data and Accessibility Working Groups – Access to Health Group
  • Equitable Access to Wellbeing Project (previously Te Pou Dual Disability Governance Group)
  • Family Violence Online Help Advisory Group
  • Whaikaha Supported Decision Making Advisory Group
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Advisory Group on Building Accessibility
  • Accident Compensation Scheme Customer Advisory Panel
  • Understanding Policing Delivery Independent Panel
  • Ministry of Justice Advisory Group on research about victimisation of disabled people 

Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM)

The DPO Coalition is one of the three partners of New Zealand’s Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM), alongside the Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman.

The IMM:  

  • promotes, protects and monitors the implementation of the UNCRPD
  • reports to Parliament, the public and the United Nations on the implementation of the UNCRPD and specific disability issues
  • provides advice on legislation, policy and practice affecting disabled people.

The IMM is designated under the UNCRPD and was established by notice in the New Zealand Gazette on 13 October 2011.

The IMM meets quarterly. The Chair and secretariat roles within the IMM rotate six monthly.

As part of the IMM role, the DPO Coalition also meets bi-annually with the Ministerial Leadership Group on Disability Issues (MLGDI) to discuss progress on the UNCRPD and raise specific issues of urgency or concern. 

Disabled person-led monitoring

The DPO Coalition undertakes a Disabled person-led monitoring role.  

Since 2018, the DPO Coalition has commissioned the Donald Beasley Institute to undertake this role, and the research is led entirely by disabled people.  

In 2019, the Donald Beasley Institute began by interviewing disabled people and their families/whānau about their experiences of housing (2018 - 2020) and then health and wellbeing (2020-2021).  

The Donald Beasley Institute is working on completing their next cycle of monitoring, investigating disabled people's right to supports and services under Whaikaha.

The DPO Coalition is currently working through a procurement process, supported by Whaikaha, to secure a supplier for 2024-2026.  

Prior to 2018, the DPO Coalition produced the following monitoring reports:

  • Disability Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand: Acceptance in Society (2015).
  • Disability Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand: Participation & Poverty (2015).
  • Disability Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand; Media, an analysis of the portrayal of disabled New Zealanders by the New Zealand media, following the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008 (2013).
  • Disability Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand: Youth (2013).
  • Disability Rights in Aotearoa New Zealand - A systemic monitoring report on the human rights of disabled people in Aotearoa New Zealand (2010, 2012). 


The DPO Coalition is fully funded by Whaikaha.  

The total funding amount is divided equally amongst the DPO Coalition organisations.

Funding includes costs associated with attendance at meetings and reasonable accommodations.

Joining the DPO Coalition


The DPO Coalition has developed a set of attributes for organisations who wish to join the DPO Coalition.  

Download the Disabled People’s Organisation Roles and Attributes (DOC 49KB)

Any organisation can assess whether they meet the attributes. If an organisation considers that they meet the attributes, they can email the DPO Coalition at us-dpo@groups.io and:

  • provide a short description of the role of their organisation in representing disabled people
  • outline why they want to join the DPO Coalition
  • provide / attach an assessment of their organisation against the attributes.

The DPO Coalition will discuss and consider the application and may seek advice as required. Discussion with the applying organisation may be part of this process.

All communications to the DPO Coalition should be accessible (MS Word, suggested font Arial minimum size 16pt).

Note that organisations in the DPO Coalition review themselves against the attributes annually to ensure they continue to meet the criteria. 


Two members from each DPO attend the meetings: one governance member and one management level member.

Meetings occur approximately every six weeks (no more than 10 per year) and are typically held over two and a half days (Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday). Some meetings are held in person, in Wellington, and some are online.

Key messages are generated after each meeting. If you would like to subscribe to the email list to receive these, please email the DPO Coalition Secretariat at us-dpo@groups.io.

Contacting the DPO Coalition - Information for Government agencies

Government agencies seeking advice or input from the DPO Coalition must engage with the Coalition as a whole; contacting one or two DPO members does not mean that you have engaged with the DPO Coalition.

All requests for a representative or input from the DPO Coalition are to come via email to us-dpo@groups.io.

Government obligations and processes

The DPO Coalition is independent and works closely with the Government in line with Article 4.3 of the UNCRPD, which states:  

“In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organisations”.

The process for seeking input from the DPO Coalition is as follows:

  • Include the information as specified under the request requirements. (DOCX 36KB)
  • Refine the request if asked to do so by the DPO Coalition Secretariat.
  • Fund the time and support costs of the DPO Coalition representatives (if these are not already provided through existing funding arrangements with Whaikaha).

The process for seeking a representative or representatives from the DPO Coalition is as follows. Please allow for a minimum of six weeks for confirmation of the nominated representative(s).

  • If the request is incomplete, clarification will be sought from the requester to better understand what is being asked for.
  • Confirmation will be provided to the requestor if the expert input or representative role needs to be decided by the DPO Coalition. At this point, some requests will be confirmed as not relating to Article 4.3. When this occurs, the request may be referred by the DPO Coalition to individual DPO’s to deal with through their organisational process.
  • Requests for expert input or representative roles confirmed as relating to Article 4.3 will be managed through a nomination’s process. The DPO Coalition will seek nominations from their respective DPOs. Nominations will include a description of the person's skills and suitability for the role. This is provided at least five working days before the date that the DPO Coalition will vote.
  • Voting occurs at the next DPO Coalition meeting or by email if required to meet the due date for the request.
  • Successful person(s) are advised and added to the DPO Coalition representatives list.
  • The requester will be advised of the name, contact details and reasonable accommodations required for representative(s) to participate.

In terms of both of the processes outlined above, the DPO Coalition will:

  • Respond to all requests in a timely manner, including providing feedback on the request as relevant.
  • Clarify what input is funded by existing funding arrangements, with anything additional to be funded directly by each project.  
  • Maintain a current list of DPO representatives on Government advisory and/or partnership groups.
  • Review the process overall from time to time to ensure that the DPO Coalition are delivering according to the Convention. 

Request requirements (for both into policy advice and/or requests for representatives)

Requests should cover the following points:

  • An outline of the work, covering its purpose in relation to a rights-based approach and to the objectives of relevant strategies and plans (e.g., the New Zealand Disability Strategy and Disability Action Plan), timeframes for the work and any key decision points. 
  • Why input from disabled people is required.
  • What types of input and/or representation are required for the project?
    • Types of input include:
      • lived experience, and/or
      • specific technical expertise, and/or 
      • expertise from a specific disability perspective. 
    • Types of representation include:
      • representation from an individual DPO within the Coalition 
      • representation from some DPOs within the Coalition
      • representation from all DPOs within the Coalition. 
  • Are DPOs deciding the representatives or are they being asked for nominations for someone else to make the final decision?
  • Is the input specific to a disability or generic to all disabilities? [this helps confirm which and how many organisations from the DPO Coalition need to be involved].
  • Is the representative required to make decisions on behalf of one or more DPOs? 
  • Are there any decisions required relating to Article 4.3 of the Convention? [NB: Clarity on where decisions will be made advises whether a DPO governance person needs to be involved and what connection is required to DPO governance and decision-making processes].
  • What payment and support is proposed for the representative?

Requestors may wish to use the request template (DOCX 36KB).

Requesting attendance at DPO Coalition meetings or to provide documentation

To request an agenda item or to provide documentation for consideration at a DPO Coalition meeting, please email the DPO Coalition Secretariat: us-dpo@groups.io 

All papers must be received at least six working days prior to the date of a DPO Coalition meeting to allow sufficient time for the members to consider the information provided. 

All papers must be in an accessible format i.e. MS Word, Arial 16 pt minimum.

Additional background and history

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention), in Article 4(3), promotes the active involvement by government agencies of representative organisations of disabled people (referred to as Disabled People’s Organisations), which are governed by disabled people.

Over 2013/2014, the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 was developed through a collaborative process involving government agencies and national Disabled People’s Organisations. This work was coordinated by the Office for Disability Issues (Now part of the Partnerships and Stewardship group at Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People). Organisations that comprise the DPO Coalition have a history of working together under the Convention i.e. monitoring implementation of the Convention and working with government agencies.

The recognition of Disabled People’s Organisations that are distinct from other disability sector organisations recognises that disabled people themselves should have the opportunity to be around the table in matters affecting them. This development is acknowledged as the basis of the new way of working together and was agreed between the Chief Executives’ Group on Disability Issues and the DPO Coalition in July 2014.

The evolving direct relationships between government agencies and Disabled People’s Organisations are in addition to, and do not replace or substitute, relationships with other disability sector organisations.

The Office for Disability Issues supported the DPO Coalition to meet together and lead thinking about how working collaboratively with government agencies to implement the Convention can be advanced.