Media release: UN Special Rapporteur to headline Make it Work International Conference

UN Special Rapporteur to headline Make it Work International Conference

27 April 2016


IHC is delighted to announce Catalina Devandas Aguilar, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as a keynote speaker at the IHC Workability International Make it Work Conference in September.

The Workability International Conference is held annually and this year it is being hosted in Auckland by IHC New Zealand.

Brent Wilton, Director of Global Workplace Rights at Coca-Cola, and Steve Shepherd, former head of Ranstad’s specialist disability recruitment team in Australia, have also been confirmed as keynote speakers.

Janine Stewart, General Manager of IHC Programmes says, “We thrilled to have secured the attendance of such high-quality keynote speakers. They will add real value to the conversation and provide excellent insights from their varied backgrounds. We are looking forward some provocative conversations about the future of employment for those with disabilities.”

“Catalina is a lawyer and human rights advocate who has worked extensively on disability issues at the national, regional and international level. As Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, she leads work calling for persons with disabilities to be guaranteed the full enjoyment of their human rights and freedoms without discrimination.”

The conference aims to highlight the clear economic and social benefits that arise when all citizens have the opportunity to be engaged in work. The conference will explore innovative ways to tackle the barriers to employment people with disabilities continue to face.

Brent Wilton has previously worked as Secretary-General of the International Organisation of Employers in Geneva, and has a clear view that disability should not be a barrier to employment. Steve Shepherd is a champion of diversity employment programmes. Steve will address the conference on recruitment that centres on skill and capability, rendering disability irrelevant at the interview table.

“We have also secured the support and attendance of Phil O’Reilly, former CEO of Business New Zealand and current chair of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD and member of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation. Phil will also address the conference delegates,” says Janine Stewart.

IHC is currently calling for abstracts that reflect the three themes of the conference: Partnerships, Relationships, and Allies for Employment; Employment not Welfare; and Socially Responsible Business. More information about abstracts can be found at

The Make it Work conference is taking place in Auckland, New Zealand from 26–28 September 2016, and will be held at Sky City Convention Centre and the Auckland Museum.



Polly Atkins
IHC New Zealand
021 1741715

About IHC

IHC was founded in 1949 by a small group of parents who wanted equal treatment from the education and health systems for their children with intellectual disabilities. The IHC of today is still striving for these same rights and is committed to principles of advocating for the rights, welfare and inclusion of all people with an intellectual disability. We support people with an intellectual disability to lead satisfying lives and have a genuine place in the community.

We have more than 5500 staff working to support 7000 people in services that include residential care, supported living, vocational support, respite care, and New Zealand’s largest non-government social housing provider. We also lobby and advocate for the human rights of all people with an intellectual disability at both a national and an international level. We raise money and awareness of the issues facing people with intellectual disabilities through our charitable activities, including an extensive advocacy programme, a one-to-one volunteer programme and the country’s largest specialist intellectual disability library.

About Workability International

Workability International champions the right to work of any person who has a disability or is otherwise marginalised. We are proud to be the world’s largest body representing providers of work and employment services to people with disabilities. More than three million people with disabilities are engaged in work programmes; accessing employment and work, delivered by more than 130 member organisations in more than 40 countries.