News and opinions on disability
and inclusion

It is about people

He aha te mea nui o te ao?

He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world?

It is people! It is people! It is people!

David, our Chief Executive, asked some critical questions about the current reforms of disability supports last week. Why, because of people. We are passionate about all people, especially disabled people, living good lives in communities that include everyone. Disability supports, and all the policies and laws around them, are only important because they can help or hinder people living good lives. We care about the impact of policies and laws on people and communities. This might seem like a simple and obvious point, but it is easy to lose the focus on people when talking about policies and laws.

As David noted, there are currently a lot of government-initiated pilots, demonstrations and different initiatives. Some of them are creating great results. For example, Choice in Community Living has supported people to live better and more independent lives. Where things are falling down is the next steps. There is no funding to take these pilots further so they are only available for a limited number of people. This is not fair.

I believe the government has been focusing on entirely the wrong issue. The issue is not how to support people to live good lives and create inclusive communities. Generally, disabled people, their whānau and their communities already have lots of good ideas about how to do this. Organisations like ours also have good ideas and can help if disabled people want to involve us in their lives.

The key issue is actually how to fund and resource these ideas in a way that is adequate, fair and easy to access. Unfortunately, successive governments have not wanted to look at funding and resourcing, which is why we have a significantly underfunded disability support sector. This is a mistake, especially because I believe the public would be open to looking at more funding, if a good case was made. Why, because it is about people. Disability supports are about disabled people and their whānau getting a fair go.

You do need to give the public confidence that the funding will go towards a fair go for disabled people and not towards more bureaucracy and hurdles to jump through. This would take work, but it would open up far more possibilities. Currently, I think we may be stuck. Trying to create fair and adequate disability supports within existing funding could be a dead-end. Although we did not intend it, we may have inadvertently created a no-win situation.

What do you think?

We got some great comments last week, thank you to everyone who commented. This is an important issue and there should be more public discussion.

Sam Murray
National Policy Coordinator

One Response to “It is about people”

  1. Roger Loveless says:

    Unfortunately the language of bureaucrats is dollars. It is very easy to add up what we are spending on supports but there is almost nothing that tells us what value we get from removing barriers to participation. Whether this is good footpaths, access to equipment, education and high cost treatments, the same principles apply. Of course in an ideal world all of this should be available, but at the very least these things should not be cut back just because it’s hard to collect data on the value of the benefits. (That’s so that benefit/cost analysis can be used.)

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