28 Jun 2018 | Partners in Care
Huge congratulations to Martine Abel-Williamson from the Commission’s consumer network. Martine was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to people with disabilities in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list.
As well as being part of the consumer network, Martine also sits on the Commission’s patient deterioration programme expert advisory group.
She previously worked in various roles for Manukau City Council and then Auckland Council, including as policy advisor disability and strategic advisor disability. She now runs her own business as a disability advocate.
Since emigrating from South Africa in 1996, Martine describes her experiences navigating the New Zealand health system as a blind person as ‘interesting and often challenging’.
She is currently treasurer at the global level of the World Blind Union and regional UN advocacy network co-ordinator of World Blind Union Asia-Pacific (WBUAP).
Her award citation says: ‘In these roles she has travelled the world to assist building international capacity in disability services in developing countries, as well as liaising in areas of systemic advocacy, specialising in access to the environment and transport.’
Martine says working internationally has given her the opportunity to experience different ways of doing things and bring new ideas back to New Zealand.
‘It’s also an opportunity to promote what we’re doing in New Zealand to transform disability services, and it’s great to tell others about that.’
She says she’s learning a lot through her roles at the Commission and recommends it to others.
‘It’s great to provide advice and share your experience, but it’s also great to see how things work at that level. It’s really positive.’
She says she was surprised by her award, but is looking forward to receiving it at a ceremony at Government House in October.