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Labels – Do the labels we use for certain populations create exclusion?

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Event description

Every day as social services kaimahi, we are working with children, rangatahi and whānau across our communities and hapori. But what is the impact of the language we use when speaking about the people who we work with?

When addressing issues of equity and intersectional need, the wider social services sector is asked to think specifically about groups who are unable to gain equitable access to services and supports.

This workshop will utilise a combination of small group activities, audio-visual material and discussions to examine how the use of certain language to describe groups of people or populations can focus attention on individual deficit and blame, or on the contextual and socio-political perspective of a particular group’s circumstances.

Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • reflect on language used to describe the groups they are working with, and social meanings inherent in this language
  • explore how this language can create either benefit or harm to populations
  • develop their use of language to both accurately describe the wider elements of people’s circumstances and enhance mana and wellbeing.

“I have stopped talking about ‘vulnerable’ people, now I’m talking about ‘systems that don’t fit our people’. There is so much freedom in this kōrero” - SSPA member kaimahi, feedback on Dr. Hager’s Whakamanawa 2022 workshop.


Dr. Debbie Hager is a health promoter with a focus on women’s health and wellbeing. Her specialist area of research are the intersections between domestic and sexual violence and disability, including mental illness. Debbie teaches Health Promotion at the University of Auckland, and Human Rights at AUT.  Debbie presented at Whakamanawa 2022 – The National Social Services Conference, and SSPA has invited her to provide further spaces for kōrero on this kaupapa after receiving a huge amount of interest.  You can learn more about Debbie here


This workshop will take place kanohi ki te kanohi at Kauri Room, CCS Disability Action, 14 Erson Ave, Royal Oak. The venue is fully accessible. Tea, coffee and water will be available, along with a small snack.

Parking: available free on-site or on-street.

Public transport: closest bus stop is 2 min walk on Mt Albert Road or Pah Road. Closest train station is Onehunga. 

Registration and payment information:

Payment for this workshop is by credit card only (a CC fee will apply) - if for any reason you cannot pay by credit card then please contact our finance team at

Registrations can be transferred to another colleague in your organisation at any time prior to the workshop by contacting

See our Refund Policy for registration cancellation information.

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    Refund policy

    Cancellations must be notified in writing by email to more than 7 days prior to the workshop. No refund will be given for registration cancellations (including “no shows” at the workshop) but registrations can be transferred to another colleague in your organisation at any time prior to the workshop by contacting Registration cancellations received less than 7 days prior to the workshop will be charged an administration fee of $20.