On the passing of Alison Riseborough

Brian Coffey, Chief Advisor to the Chief Executive pays tribute to Alison Riseborough.

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Alison Riseborough on Saturday 19 August following a medical event on Wednesday last week. We mourn with Alison’s family and friends, the disability community, and her former colleagues in the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and across government.

Alison was a leader, influencer and advocate. She was a public servant with 32 years of service in the Department of Labour and MSD prior to her retirement in 2020.

Her advice was valued as she combined her lived experience as a disabled woman and her considerable knowledge of policy development and the work of Government. Alison’s commitment to better policy and services for disabled people and all New Zealanders was always evident.

Many disabled people will recall Alison’s community leadership, advocacy for and championing of accessible public transport.

Since retiring from the MSD disability policy team, Alison has made good on her “retirement promise” of contributing more to the community and became more involved in the work of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  In recent years Alison has represented the Association within the Disabled Peoples Organisation (DPO) Coalition.  In her work within the Coalition, Alison was able to again combine her experience and knowledge from many years in the public service, her commitment to the disability community and her experience as a recipient of government funded disability services.

Alison was always willing to test the thinking of others, and was appropriately cautious about the commitment from others to disability issues until there was clear evidence that the commitment was real and progress being made.

We mourn Alison’s passing and celebrate her life, influence and contribution.