Hot Issues January 2016
Hot Issues is an electronic newsletter produced independently for the IHC advocacy team. The newsletter covers education, current political developments, submissions, family concerns, disability topics and events.
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Inside IHC Hot Issues:
- Disability Strategy and Action Plan updated
- New National Care Matching Service launched
- New Year Honours for services to disability
- Ministry of Health’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Plan
- New series of IHC Workshops for 2016
- Sib Shops in Wellington in March
- NGO Health and Disability Network seeking positive video clips to highlight work
- State care abuse claimants suing Government
- Zika virus can cause intellectual disability
- Christchurch’s Margaret Mahy playground not disability-friendly
- Students with disabilities not allowed to type school work
- Invercargill special school’s isolation room causes concern
- Teacher laments reduced support for students
- Australian court denies parents bid to sterilise disabled daughter
- Australian Senate Inquiry into disability abuse and violence
- Is screening sperm donors for autism eugenics
Disability Strategy and Action Plan updated
A reference group will convene in February to start the process of revising the 2001 NZ Disability Strategy. Disability Issues Minister, Nicky Wagner says that “the Disability Strategy provides the big picture vision for what we want New Zealand to look like for disabled people in ten years’ time and beyond”. She has also released the updated Disability Action Plan 2014 – 2018 after its review in 2015. New to the Action Plan will be requirements to work with the private sector to increase employment of disabled people and to implement the Disability Data and Evidence Working Group work programme.
New Zealand Disability Strategy Revision Reference group Office for Disability Issues
New National Care Matching Service launched
Hot Issues has previously mentioned the development of the new care matching services for those who are seeking local care workers or relief carers to link with those providing the service. The new online service has now been launched by CarersNZ. It is free for those disabled people and families who receive Ministry of Health Disability Support Funding. As well as the website there is a pre-authorised NASC referral form available through an app. Those seeking care work can also register, although there is a charge for this. The MyCare service also provides services to organise schedules and tasks and to access support circles. Contact Carers NZ about the National Carer Matching Service: 0800 777 797 or email email@example.com. Contact MyCare if you have trouble accessing the online service or have questions about the free upgrade trial offer: 0800 677 700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New Year Honours for services to disability
Several New Zealanders received honours in the New Year List for services to the disability community. This year’s recipients included: Mrs Dianne Glenn, JP, for services to disabled women and the environment (ONZM); Mr Kevin Blogg, for services to people with disabilities, Mr Philip Blundell, for services to people with disabilities and the community, Mr Gary Endacott, for services to people with disabilities, Ms Jan Moss, for services to the care of disabled people (all MNZM); and Mrs Robin Wynn-Williams for services to mental health support (QSM).
New Year Honours List 2016 Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
Ministry of Health’s Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Plan
The Ministry of Health has published a discussion document on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder which is caused by the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. About half of all pregnancies are exposed to alcohol, and about 1 percent of the New Zealand population is estimated to have FASD as a result. FASD can be characterised by a range of problems such as intellectual and behavioural deficits, as well as irreversible damage to the brain and body. The discussion document seeks feedback on how things could be improved. The closing date for submissions is 26 February 2016. Marlborough grandparents raising grandchildren with FASD have welcomed the initiative.
Mother warns against drinking while pregnant New Zealand Herald
New series of IHC Workshops for 2016
IHC is offering a new series of workshops around the country that include practical information and strategies while also giving parents the opportunity to share their experiences. Workshops include creating visuals, using stories to help social learning, sensory processing, and anxiety. Three extra workshops will be held in Auckland including one on Autism for Fathers. Most workshops will be two hours long and most are free for parents, family members and people with autism or intellectual disability, but $65 for professionals.
Sib Shops in Wellington in March
Parent to Parent Wellington are holding two ‘Sib Shops’ in March for those aged 8-18 who have a brother or sister with a disability or impairment. The aim of the Sib Shop day is to provide children with an experience that will assist them to cope with the challenges and stresses of living with a brother or sister who has a disability or health impairment, and they are run by adults with disabled siblings. They are free but places are limited. They will be held in Petone on Saturday 5th March for sibling 8 to 12 years old and Sunday 6th March for those aged 13 to 18 years.
NGO Health and Disability Network seeking positive video clips to highlight work
The Secretariat of the Ministry of Health’s NGO Health & Disability Network is seeking short 2-3 minute video clips showing the benefits not-for-profit health and disability community organisations provide to New Zealand. They will edit the contributions into a video to use at events and presentations for funders and others and on the internet, to show the diversity of the sector. They will also load some videos to their YouTube channel. Organisations vary greatly in size, types of services and their interaction with the community and government agencies and these clips will help illustrate this diversity. They would like video clips by the end of January.
Health and Disability NGOs YouTube channel Ministry of Health
State care abuse claimants suing Government
The historic abuse of those in state care continues to be problematic. Some of those who claim abuse are suing the government for $740,000 for what they say is a failure to act when they asked for their personal records. Each of the 74 clients is seeking $10,000 to be paid on in addition to any compensation received for the abuse itself. The group of 74 people needed the documents in order to file compensation claims for the abuse. But the claimants say that delays with the Ministry of Social Development is adding to their problems. Cooper Legal, representing the claimants, lodged a lawsuit with the Human Rights Review Tribunal in April. Each of the 74 clients was seeking $10,000, to be paid on top of any compensation received for the abuse itself. Legal action has been taken to hurry up the process.
State care abuse victims suing government Radio New Zealand
Zika virus can cause intellectual disability
A mosquito-borne virus that causes fever and can affect the unborn child of a pregnant woman if she is infected is causing concern as a potentially emerging disease. Children can be born with physical or intellectual impairments as a result of infection. There have been recent outbreaks of the zika virus in some Pacific countries and in South East Asia but is not currently known in New Zealand. It has recently spread to Central and South America and there are concerns that pregnant women travelling to the Olympic Games in Rio this year could be at risk.
Zika virus Ministry of Health
Christchurch’s Margaret Mahy playground not disability-friendly
Christchurch has a big new playground named after the children’s author Margaret Mahy. However, some parents of disabled children are disappointed that much of it is inaccessible for their children. Children in wheelchairs cannot get close enough to the activities to participate, and there is no wheelchair swing. So they have to watch from the side-lines, or be carried and lifted on to equipment, which is not fair or realistic particularly for older children. CERA says they tried to make ‘something for everyone’, but may consider some improvements to include disabled children.
Mahy playground ‘misses the mark’ for children with special needs – advocate Stuff
Students with disabilities not allowed to type school work
Two disabled secondary school students who have difficulty with writing have been told that their work has to be handwritten and not typed. Even though they are eligible for reader-writer assistance under the Special Assessment Conditions for NCEA, they have been told that this work and assignments must be handwritten by their assistant and not typed. A representative from NZQA said that the students could be eligible for text to speech software, but that a reader-writer typing their work would give them an unfair advantage.
Invercargill special school’s isolation room causes concern
Police are investigating complaints about a room in an Invercargill special school used for isolating students with challenging behaviour. A parent complained about the practice at the school in 2014, although other parents supported the use of the ‘safe’ room. The Ministry of Education investigated and the school stopped the practice. The Ministry of Education is currently preparing guidelines to address seclusion and physical restraint, saying seclusion is a last resort where students whose behaviour is a risk to themselves or others may possibly be placed alone in a room.
School safe room ‘dark and grimy’ and ‘not pleasant’ – Ministry of Education report Stuff
Teacher laments reduced support for students
An Upper Hutt teacher has retired after teaching for 21 years including 16 years of teaching children with learning disabilities. Over those years she has noticed reduced support for children with special education needs. She has noticed that teacher aide hours have reduced over that time, and that the paperwork and administration required to get them support has increased. She has also valued the expertise and information provided by parents of her students.
Australian court denies parents bid to sterilise disabled daughter
An Australian court has denied parents’ request for the sterilisation of their intellectually disabled daughter. The Victorian civil and administrative tribunal denied an application from the 25 year old’s parents to provide consent for the unnamed woman to have a tubal litigation as a form of permanent contraception. Her parents raised concerns that the woman’s friendly and trusting nature made her vulnerable to being taken advantage of sexually. The young woman has been on the contraceptive pill since 2007 and wants to stay on it but the parents preferred a permanent sterilisation. The tribunal was not satisfied that the ‘invasive procedure’ would be in the best interests of the woman.
Australian Senate Inquiry into disability abuse and violence
While the New Zealand Parliament’s Education and Science Select Committee had a small inquiry into the education and support of children with certain impairments in 2015, the Australian Senate held a much wider ranging inquiry into ‘Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the gender and age related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability’. Submissions were due in June but were extended to the end of November because of the numbers of people and groups wanting to provide information. Submissions have ranged from how the Australian education system is failing disabled children to aspects of violence and abuse against disabled adults in residential care.
Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings, including the gender and age related dimensions, and the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability Australian Senate
Is screening sperm donors for autism eugenics?
Autistic Self Advocate Ari Ne’eman has expressed concern at developing policies by sperm banks and fertility clinics in various countries to discriminate against donors with autism and other neurological conditions such as dyslexia. The London Sperm bank is one of the latest but preselection against autism is also happening elsewhere. In some Australian states male embryos can be screened out as this is seen as a risk for autism. Mr Ne’eman is concerned that reproductive technologies are being used to remove autistic people from future generations, not just to create ‘designer babies’. He suggests that privately run sperm and egg donation programmes, IVF clinics and laboratories around the world are making decisions that could eventually change the human race.