Equal Justice for People with Disabilities? An Analysis of Complaints to New Zealand’s Human Rights Review Tribunal

Room 920
Melbourne Law School
185 Pelham Street, Carlton


New Zealand’s unique medico-legal system includes access to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. To date, the Tribunal has heard a number of complaints from people with disabilities who have experienced a breach of their rights under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights.

In this seminar, Professor Kate Diesfeld, Chair of the Auckland University of Technology Ethics Committee, will examine select decisions of the Human Rights Review Tribunal to explore patterns in breaches and whether this regime offers just remedies for the aggrieved. Many decisions relate to the abuse and neglect of people with multiple disabilities in a range of residential contexts. Professor Diesfeld will also discuss preventive strategies, alternatives to the current model and lessons for Australia in light of its Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Professor Kate Diesfeld was employed as a staff attorney for Protection and Advocacy, Inc in Los Angeles representing people with developmental disabilities. She was the Legal Supervisor of Kent Law Clinic (Mental Health and Learning Disabilities) at the University of Kent at Canterbury in England. Also, she represented people before the Mental Health Review Tribunal in England.

She was Director of the National Centre for Health Law and Ethics at AUT University. At Te Piringa Faculty of Law at the University of Waikato, she was Co-editor of the Waikato Law Review, Associate Dean (Research) and taught Health Law, Torts, Dispute Resolution and Legal Ethics. Currently Adjunct Associate Professor at Te Piringa, and the Chair of AUT's Ethics Committee, Professor Diesfeld convenes the health law courses at AUT and supervises doctoral research on disability and health law.

This venue is wheelchair accessible. To discuss any other accessibility requirements, please get in touch via social-equity@unimelb.edu.au or +61 3 8344 7603.