IHC: Flawed system funding community programmes for disabled adults must go

1 July 2022
Media Release

IHC New Zealand is once again calling on the Government to overhaul an outdated system that determines what community programmes disabled adults have access to based on flawed assessments they were given as children.

A case note published this week from the Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, highlighted a complaint by the parent of a disabled man whose high needs classification was made under the Ministry of Education’s Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) while he was at school in 1999.

The Ministry of Social Development uses the ORS assessment to determine funding for disabled people for community participation services from the time they leave school until age 65.

IHC’s 2022 Inclusive Education Survey found 99 percent of educational professionals and 100 percent of medical professionals are calling for a complete overhaul of ORS.

IHC Director of Advocacy Tania Thomas says while she appreciates that MSD has undertaken to resolve the individual case, the system needs a complete overhaul to support all disabled adults.

“We support the Chief Ombudsman’s statement that it’s unreasonable that there is nothing in place to reassess funding for community participation programmes for disabled people once they leave school,” says Tania. “Adults should be reassessed to make sure they have equitable access based on their current needs.”

“If you’re to take what a 14-year-old’s needs are and base that on what they have access to once they finish school – it just doesn’t make sense.

“ORS funding wasn’t broad enough in 1999 and it still isn’t today. We are bombarded at IHC with stories about disabled students in classrooms right now, who can’t get ORS and are underfunded and floundering. We also hear from families and schools at their wits' end trying to get disabled children into the classroom, learning and being included every day with very small amounts of money. When this fails, as it does frequently, families must give up paid work to home school their child.

"Research that came out earlier this year showed that neurodiverse children are more likely to be stood down or suspended than the general population. That disparity disappears when the child has ORS funding, so we know that better financial support for disabled and neurodiverse children is critical for their educational success.

“The ORS model is not fit-for-purpose in school, nor after school, and so we are asking for a more flexible system that actually takes into account what works for the individual.

“The new Ministry for Disabled People comes into being today. It needs to be a priority for them.”