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2014 Election Māori Party’s response

We have asked the main political parties questions about disability issues. Here is the Māori Party’s response. We will post the responses as we get them.

The Māori Party is committed to initiatives that increase self-determination in the disabled community. Our 2011 Manifesto details the areas the Māori  Party would like to progress including:

  • establishing a national Māori  advocacy unit,
  • extending individualised funding and the promotion of the Circle of Friends to enable disabled persons to live the life they wish,
  • the establishment of a Disability Employment Summit, and
  • investigate post-school options to ensure this first generation of children who have experienced mainstreaming can continue to succeed.

You might note that in the 2014 Budget I recently announced the extension of the Enabling Good Lives approach, to the effect of $3.8m over the next four years; as well as $6m for Vocational Services for School Leavers with Disabilities and very high needs; as well as $32m for autism support and $6m for the promotion and maintenance of New Zealand Sign Language. It is extremely pleasing that we have been able to action a range of priority areas that have been advocated for from the disability sector for. While there is always more that can be done, the progress is certainly very positive.

You have asked for a response from the Māori Party to a number of questions and these are noted below. While many of these initiatives have been achieved during my time as Minister of Disability Issues, my party remains conscious that the impetus has come from the disabled community to address their needs. To this end, the Māori Party will continue to support any initiative that enables disabled people to be treated as equal New Zealanders and to have the same rights of citizenship and participation in society.

Employment

What action will you take to address these barriers and lower unemployment amongst disabled people, especially for Māori and Pasifika as well as disabled women?

Our party is proud to have supported the Disability Employment Summit in 2011 and we look to an initiative which came out of the summit to help address those barriers to employment identified by the disability community.

A partnership between the Disability Employment Forum, the Employer Advisory Group and Government agencies has been formed to ensure ongoing dialogue between the three parties of ways to increase employment opportunities for disabled people. We trust that that those within this network of people, who live with disabilities themselves, who support people with disabilities, and who support employers to build their disability confidence, are armed with the best answers for this issue. We therefore give our full support to empowering the resolutions of this forum.

Poverty/ income support

What action will you take to ensure disabled people receive adequate financial support?

The Māori Party has actively sought to reduce persistent income inequality so that whānau have access to the resources they need to grow, to live in healthy home environments and to lead healthy lives, and we remain committed to this .

We will continue to support Enabling Good Lives as a cross-agency approach to provide individualised and portable financial support to disabled people. Most importantly Enabling Good Lives is about giving those who require support greater control over the support they receive and the lives they lead. This is connected to our party’s broader ideologies of rangatiratanga and manaakitanga.

On the basis of these ideologies the Māori Party will also pay close attention to initiatives advanced under the Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 which give the disability community the opportunity to have a say on things that are important to them and work with agencies and Disabled People’s Organisations.

Lack of data

What action will you take to increase the publicly available data on disabled people?

In increasing publicly available data about the disabled community we think it is crucial that the disabled community itself determines what data is collected about them and how. We support initiatives which encourage dialogue with and amongst the disabled community and their networks for this purpose.

The Māori Party was a key champion in advocating for the retention of the Disability Survey. The Disability Survey, run by Statistics New Zealand in each census year, is currently the most detailed and comprehensive source of data on disabled people living in New Zealand. The 2011 Disability Survey was postponed due to the decision not to proceed with the 2011 Census following the Canterbury earthquake. The Māori Party took up the issue with Statistics New Zealand and argued for specific resources to be allocated to ensure the Disability Survey was continued.

Another part of the answer lies in ensuring that those collecting data are using consistent language and sharing their information with one another. On this basis the Māori Party wants to improve information co-ordination across all sectors working with disabled people, including registered and non-registered health professionals, across DHBs and PHOs, as well as the information systems held by education, speech language services and social services for children (for education purposes).

The Māori Party also wants to establish a national Māori advocacy unit. Our party remains conscious that if we are to improve health and independence outcomes for disabled New Zealanders we need to have a full and accurate picture of who they are beyond their disabilities. The 2006 census told us that Māori  have a disability rate of 19% compared with 13% for non-Māori (age-standardised); a Māori advocacy unit will support the provision of a clearer qualitative picture of these New Zealanders. The Māori  Party wants to advance research which measures wellbeing on a scale relative to understandings of hauora. We believe a Māori  advocacy unit will also support the advancement of Māori-centric research of this kind.

Human rights protection

What will your party do to strengthen human rights protection?

The Māori  Party wants to adequately resource formal and informal caregivers to enable whānau members to stay in their own homes, especially older people, and disabled persons to be supported to live in their homes as much as possible. The Funded Family Care Scheme has gone part of the way to pay family members who provide personal care and household management, however there are a number of challenges around the scheme including the 40 hour maximum and minimum wages. Added to this is the bureaucracy that must be navigated by families and those with disabilities before there is even a possibility that a disabled person can sign up to the agreement for assistance. In light of these concerns for equality, the Māori Party would look to support changes in the wages, the hours and the process for disabled persons. We will also review the work conditions, pay and training opportunities for those working in the elderly, disability and home sector and establish a workforce project for pay parity to retain Māori nurses in iwi providers.

Other action which the Māori Party will support is in the area of local government, to ensure that transport and building standards provide adequate access. We would like to see guaranteed Warrant of Fitness standards implemented for rental housing, starting with state housing, with disability access forming part of the test.

Independence and community living

How will your party unite the different initiatives, drive progress and demonstrate a clear overall vision?

Our party’s focus on the importance of unity and dialogue to empowerment has been fundamental to our support of Enabling Good Lives, the Disability Action Plan 2014-­2018, and initiatives formed out of established partnerships, forums and networks amongst the disability community. The Māori Party will continue to drive this focus at each of these levels, where the primary drivers of progress are disabled people themselves. Communication is key to driving progress and we want to see continued investment in enhancing communication channels across the disabled community.

Our vision is to consolidate the gains that have been made in Whānau Ora and we will work hard to see this embedded for the future. Indeed our party’s foundational principles of rangatiratanga, manaakitanga, kotahitanga — encapsulated within our cornerstone policy of Whānau Ora — constitute the bounds of our overall vision for all New Zealanders.

Diversity

How will your party ensure disability services are culturally appropriate and reach those with the highest level of need?

Ensuring services are appropriate and responsive to need forms the foundation of Whānau Ora. The Māori Party will continue to advance the Whānau Ora approach and look for answers from within the disabled community itself, as well as the networks and forums out of which collective decisions are made.

To help facilitate better communication from all corners we need to focus on building cultural competency across government services, especially in the health and education systems. It is an essential skill that assists professionals to better understand and effectively communicate with Māori and their whānau.

Disability Commission

Will your party look into the creation of an independent disability commission to manage all disability policy and disability support service funding?

The Māori Party has concentrated on policy and support which responds to the needs of disabled people and their support networks, as identified by them. If the collective opinion of the community is in favour of an independent commission, this is certainly a cause which the Māori Party would be interested in exploring further.

Education

How will you ensure that disabled children can effectively attend and be included in their local school?

We want to see disabled students go to mainstream schools just like everyone else and require schools to be inclusive environments so that all children and young people are able to be present, participate, learn and achieve. As indicated earlier, in Budget 2014 the Māori Party negotiated $6 million over the next four years to provide services to new school leavers who are entering into the Very High Needs Scheme.

The Māori Party has been a driver and supporter of resources for the Deaf community and for young people with special education needs who attend mainstream schools and early childhood centres to support children and young people with special needs.

Further to these initiatives, we would establish wellbeing centres for youth in consultation with them to help inform local education, recreation and community-based policy.

Equal rights

Will your party commit to repealing Section 141 and 142 of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989?

The Māori Party is not in favour of any policy which promotes the idea that children with a disability enjoy a lesser right to family than other children. At the same time we are cognisant of needing to ensure appropriate protection is provided to those children and young persons who are very vulnerable to abuse.

Our party is committed to attaining equal rights for all children to be with their whānau; where exceptions to this rule were made we would look to the types of partnerships forged between Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou, Waikato-Tainui, and Ngāti Kahungunu with CYFS for the answer.

Access

What action will you take to ensure the community is accessible to all?

Our party seeks:

  • Warrant of Fitness standards to be implemented for rental housing,
  • acceptable disability access in all buildings owned by the state,
  • a greater onus on local government to guarantee adequately accessible transport and building standards,
  • investment in digital distance education & digital learning applications to keep all young people engaged in their learning
  • more community learning spaces, accessible to all, to continue the learning experience outside the classroom

Housing

What action will you take to ensure accessible and affordable housing is available?

As stated above, the Māori Party wants to implement guaranteed Warrant of Fitness standards for rental housing, starting with state housing. This will require legislative clarification of the relationship between the Building Act 2004, the Health Act 1956, and the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947. In addition, we want the Government to be able to guarantee acceptable disability access in all buildings owned by the state.

In Budget 2014, the Māori  Party secured $16 million over the next four years to:

  • support rural whānau to repair/ rebuild their homes,
  • support whānau on the Chatham Islands to improve their housing, and
  • progress government support options for Māori social housing providers.

Thanks again for seeking the views of my party in these matters.

Heoi anō

Signture

nā Hon Tariana Turia Co-leader of the Māori Party

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