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Looking back on 2015; are we any clearer about the future?

The end of the year is rapidly approaching and as always it is a time for reflection and the making of New Year’s resolutions.

Looking back on the year, the main questions for me are:

  • Are we are any clearer now about the future shape of the disability sector than we were at the start of the year?
  • Are more disabled people enjoying a better life?
  • Are we really hearing the voices of disabled people or has the conversation been limited to those on working groups or disability organisations?
  • Is New Zealand any more inclusive than it was twelve months ago?

No doubt we will all have a different answer to the above questions. For me I am still not convinced that we are any clearer about the future and I did comment on this earlier in my blog “Making sense of our sector and the way forward”. Whilst I acknowledge that there are more disabled people accessing individualised funding support does this in fact mean their lives are really better? Was I out of the room when the “big picture” was presented? – the real vision of what “it” will all look like and the pathways to getting there.  And do we all understand what “it” is?

Next year we will be holding in March our “Gathering” Karanga Maha – Many Voices. This will be our contribution to the challenge of bringing those many unheard voices (especially of our younger people) into a forum to be heard and engaged with. Unless we really connect with all disabled people and understand what is really important to them, then we are in danger of once again doing things “for” rather than “with” disabled people. I am not convinced that listening to representatives of disabled people is sufficient.

My frustrations about all this though, are, and can be tempered by the possibility that we are deliberating taking time to get it right. If this is the case then that is fine by me as long as the conversations do not go on forever. My experience over many years has taught me that change does take time and successful change takes even more time than anyone thinks. I also have come to understand that once the change occurs there is no going back. Therefore, we do need to get it right.

My other concern is that whilst we may be working steadily towards a system that truly puts disabled people in the driving seat, are we doing enough in other areas such as housing, employment and transport to underpin this newly found freedom. In other words, it has to be a total package or all we will have done is identify the possibilities of a better world but one that still has all the barriers of the present one.

So my work resolution for 2016 is to clearly continue to ask the difficult questions that need to be asked if we are truly creating the opportunity for a different and better world for everyone. Whilst these questions do not always sit comfortably with decision-makers and others, I believe not to ask them is doing us all a disservice.

Have the very best, safe and peaceful holiday break. Take time for family, friends and fun and return for 2016 refreshed and re-energised for the New Year ahead.

David Matthews
Chief Executive

2 Responses to “Looking back on 2015; are we any clearer about the future?”

  1. Rosemary McDonald says:

    Greetings David,

    1.”Are we are any clearer now about the future shape of the disability sector than we were at the start of the year?”
    If by the ‘sector’ you mean Service Providers…well. who knows? It seems that the PSA and the NZDSN have got together to undermine the potential for total autonomy for disabled people that a greater roll out of IF/bulk funding/ vouchers could bring.

    2.”Are more disabled people enjoying a better life?”
    I read this the other day…”Demonstrating changes to disability support

    EVALUATION REPORT

    07 April 2015″ cached here… http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:V4Z4jP_MT38J:https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/demonstrating-changes-disability-support-evaluation-report-aug15.docx+&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=nz

    compulsory reading for ALL.

    3.”Are we really hearing the voices of disabled people or has the conversation been limited to those on working groups or disability organisations?”

    No. we are not hearing the voices of disabled people because those voices have been stolen and silenced by the government funding dependent DPOs.

    4.Is New Zealand any more inclusive than it was twelve months ago?

    No…if anything, NZ is less inclusive for many.

    We should have LAWS that enforce regulations around access in the built environment….LAWS.

    But the would mean that disabled people have equal rights under NZBORA…and this is not the case.

    “So my work resolution for 2016 is to clearly continue to ask the difficult questions…”

    Who are you going to ask these questions David?

  2. Mike Pulman says:

    Great blog David and your thoughts heading into 2016 were right on point! I wonder though, will we be asking these same questions again this year also? Clearly, as the comment above touches on, some people feel that their voice is still not being heard…

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