IHC Hot Issues - August 2017

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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Election forum Tuesday 5 September, Wellington

Gaps in early intervention

Drop in public satisfaction with special education

Roll out of Bay of Plenty Learning Support pilot

Statistics NZ survey shows more support needed for disabled people

Research reveals the hidden costs of disability

New Bill disappoints pay equity advocates

Supreme Court rules that relief carers are not employees

More support for young carers

UN plea for inquiry into historic abuse

Auckland DHBs drop disability representatives

IHC pays tribute to Colin Meads

IHC library after-hour book returns to Wellington Public Library

 

Election forum Tuesday 5 September, Wellington

As the general election gets closer, IHC and other disability organisations are holding an election forum on disability issues. It will be held on Tuesday 5 September, at 2.30 pm at the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie, Wellington. The candidates on the panel are Green MP Mojo Mathers, Labour’s Grant Robertson, National candidate Nicola Willis and Ria Bond from New Zealand First. It will be moderated by RNZ’s Morning Report presenter Susie Ferguson. RSVP by emailing ihc.events@ihc.org.nz and also mention if you require any special assistance.

The Access Alliance, an umbrella group of several disability organisations also has an open letter to the leaders of all Parliamentary Parties asking for their support for stronger accessibility legislation.

For a truly accessible Aotearoa New Zealand Access Alliance

 

Gaps in early intervention

Many parents report long delays in getting early intervention for their disabled children. In response to questions from retiring Green MP Catherine Delahunty, the Ministry of Education has now revealed statistics confirming that hundreds of disabled pre-schoolers are waiting months for a first appointment with a specialist education service, the longest wait time for any Ministry of Education Service. Early Intervention Services (EIS) provides psychologists, speech-language therapists and other specialists for physically or learning disabled children under five years old. In the year to May 2017, about 36 per cent of families, or 1204 children, seeking EIS support waited longer than 90 days for an appointment and some waited much longer.

About 14,374 children received EIS support at a cost of $31 million last year. The average per-child spend was $2106 last year which was the same as it was in 2008. Per-child spending hit a high of $2405 in 2011 but has since decreased. The Minister of Education says that more children are receiving EIS support than ever before, but Catherine Delahunty says better mechanisms are needed for tracking children on the waiting list and that the long waits are unacceptable.

Disabled preschoolers waiting months for first Early Intervention Service appointment Stuff

 

Drop in public satisfaction with special education

A 2016 Ministry of Education survey of 1206 parents and educators has revealed a drop in satisfaction with special education services. Only 64% were satisfied with the services, when in the previous three surveys it had been over 70%. Only 63% of respondents were happy with their children’s progress. Staffing and resourcing was not meeting the growing need for special education. IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant said the survey reflected what she was hearing.

Satisfaction with special education plunges Radio New Zealand

 

Roll out of Bay of Plenty Learning Support pilot

One of the ways the Government has responded to issues with special education (now Learning Support) has been through piloting a new approach in the Bay of Plenty-Waiariki region. The pilot started earlier this year for children and young people (0 – 18 years) coming into the system. Those children who already receive learning support are not affected and the services they already receive remain the same. The pilot features a Lead Practitioner as the single point of contact for parents, whānau and schools and as the coordinator of services. This is intended to make transitions from ECE to school and between schools much easier. Parents and whānau are involved in developing solutions for their children.

The Minister of Education Nikki Kaye has announced the pilot will now be rolled out around the country for children coming into the learning support system. However, there is a catch. The school the child attends has to be signed up to the Government’s Communities of Learning scheme and many schools have decided not to sign up for a variety of reasons. Up to 15 Ministry of Education senior staff will be employed as Lead Practitioners or Facilitators in 30 of these Communities of Learning to implement this new access to Learning Support.

However, critics say that this is a discriminatory approach. NZEI Te Riu Roa President, Lynda Stuart, says that "Teachers and parents are crying out for additional resourcing for children with learning needs, and yet the Government is putting extra resources into one type of schooling model, rather than coming up with a solution that works for every child in every school." She says that “Every child in every school, regardless of whether it is in a Community of Learning or not, must have equitable access to learning support. To design a new special education system that discriminates against children based on whether the school they attend is in a Community of Learning or not is abhorrent". She says that "interesting collaborative work around learning support is happening in the Bay of Plenty - and in many other areas, but to roll out a major system change on the basis of an experiment of a few months' trial and a single case study is patently irresponsible".

In another recent initiative the Ministry of Education has issued an updated Guide to Universal Design for Learning to identify barriers to learning and supporting inclusion.

The Learning Support Update Pilot Ministry of Education

Government decision on special education resourcing inequitable for children with additional learning needs NZEI Te Riu Roa

Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako Ministry of Education

UPDATED - Universal Design for Learning guide Ministry of Education

 

Statistics NZ survey shows more support needed for disabled people

Data from Statistics New Zealand’s 2013 Household Disability Survey has revealed that disabled children and adults need more help than they currently get. The report, “Supporting disabled people”, asked whether disabled children and adults had “unmet needs” for assistance. For seven percent of disabled children, caregivers reported having an unmet need for help with personal care, such as washing, dressing, and/or toileting, of the disabled child they cared for. Just two percent of disabled children had caregivers who reported that they received help with domestic tasks – such as cooking, shopping, or other general housework – because of the child’s impairment. However, ten percent reported having an unmet need for such support. Ten percent of disabled adults (about 89,000) had an unmet need for some form of assistance in the 12 months before the survey. This assistance was needed because of an impairment, and included help with cooking, shopping, and housework; heavy tasks like cleaning windows and mowing lawns; and personal care. Now we have such information we need policies to address them.

More Support Needed for Disabled People Statistics NZ Scoop

 

Research reveals the hidden costs of disability

International estimates are that one in seven adults has some form of disability, and global studies show that people with disabilities are more likely to be poor. They face barriers getting an education, finding decent work and participating in civic life. New analysis shows that disabled people around the world also face extra disability-related costs of up to several thousand dollars per year. They have higher medical expenses and may need personal assistance or assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or hearing aids. They may need to spend more on transportation or modified housing, or are restricted as to where they live. More research is needed into how such changes as building a fully accessible public transportation system would decrease the extra transportation costs that people with disabilities face. Another important question is whether benefits are adequate. Do they allow people with disability and their families to reach a minimum threshold for standard of living? Local research on such questions would be valuable.

The hidden extra costs of living with a disability  The Conversation

 

New Bill disappoints pay equity advocates

Hot Issues has regularly reported on the long-running pay equity claim taken by Kristine Bartlett on behalf of aged care and disability workers. She won the case and the Government agreed to pay the workers more. There was hope that the settlement would be the first of many for low paid women including in education, mental health and hospitality. However, Ms Bartlett is now disappointed in the new Government Pay Equity Bill which will block similar deals by forcing pay equity claimants to firstly compare their wages with men in their own sectors (such as gardeners in care homes) rather than similarly skilled workers in other sectors.

Mental health workers were part way through a claim and suspended it in the expectation of benefiting when the aged care deal was settled. Instead, if the Bill is passed, they will have to start all over again. The Bill was presented just before Parliament finished up before the election and was sent to a select committee. It was narrowly accepted by a vote of 60-59, with National, ACT and United Future voting in favour of the bill as it currently stands, and Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and the Māori Party voting against it. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner is among those expressing concern at the new legislation.

Equal pay advocate Bartlett ‘let down’ by Govt  Newsroom

No excuse for denying mental health workers equal pay Scoop

 

Supreme Court rules that relief carers are not employees

Many families with a disabled or aged family member use Carer Support, sometimes called carer relief. Under the scheme, the Ministry or District Health Board reimburses the primary carer for some or all of the amount paid to the relief carer or pays the relief carer directly. The hourly payment is much lower than the minimum wage. A relief carer, Ms Lowe, took a case to court claiming that her role came within the definition of “homeworker” in the Employment Relations Act 2000 (the ERA). She would then she would be an “employee” of the Ministry of Health and/or the relevant DHB who would owe her certain employment obligations in relation to the minimum wage, holidays and other considerations.

The case has been going through the courts for a while. First the Employment Relations Authority found she was not a homeworker. This was challenged in the Employment Court, and a full Court found in her favour. That decision was, in turn, reversed by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court has, by a majority, now dismissed Ms Lowe’s appeal and upheld the Court of Appeal’s finding that she was not a homeworker, and was therefore not an employee of the Ministry or the DHB. The complex legal arguments included the status of the place where the carer relief takes place. This decision may make it harder to find people prepared to provide carer relief.

Judgment: Janet Elsie Lowe v Director-General of Health NZ Supreme Court Scoop

 

More support for young carers

Young carers are children, teenagers and young adults who have significant caring responsibilities for disabled family members. Young Carers NZ has launched a monthly newsletter for young carers, with the aim of providing information and support to this group. “Each month we will share stories from young carers in NZ and abroad, and provide information on the services and support available. If you know of any young people helping to care for a family member or friend, please forward this email to them so they can join our group.” There is also a Facebook page, Young Carers NZ.

Young Carers NZ

 

United Nations plea for inquiry into historic abuse

Last month, people abused in state care gathered on the steps of Parliament to demand an inquiry and government apology. They formerly lived in psychopaedic and psychiatric hospitals, residential schools, children’s homes and foster care and were predominantly Māori. Several were institutionalised because of disability. The Human Rights Commission has since published a report “Institutions are places of abuse” revealing the systemic abuse of disabled people in state care and calling for an inquiry. The report contains 18 stories of disabled people affected by historic abuse, including Robert Martin, now a member of the United Nations committee monitoring the UN Disability Convention. All political parties apart from National support an inquiry.

The stories of those abused in state care had a strong effect on the Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy. Earlier this month she was in Geneva urging the United Nations to ask the New Zealand government to hold an inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse of children and disabled people held in state institutions. “Last month I stood alongside abuse survivors at the steps of their parliament and it was one of the most heart breaking things I’ve ever done. As children they suffered years of abuse at the hands of their own Government and there they were asking for justice,” she said.

New Zealanders with intellectual disabilities faced systemic abuse in state care  Human Rights Commission

'I was never loved as a child' - report argues systemic abuse of intellectually disabled NZ Herald

Call for inquiry into state abuse reaches the United Nations Human Rights Commission

 

Auckland’s DHBs drop disability community representatives

The 2000 NZ Public Health and Disability Act required all District Health Boards (DHBs) to have Disability Support Advisory Committees (DSACs) with disabled members. But since then many DHBs have slowly been dropping their DSACs or joining them with other committees. This sometimes happens when DHBs decide to work more closely together and committees merge. The three DHBs in the Wellington region now share one DSAC which combines its meetings with the Community and Public Health Advisory Committee. Now the three DHBs in Auckland are considering combining their advisory committees, but disabled people fear there will no longer be any disability representation as none have been appointed since last year’s local body elections. The Auckland-wide DHB chair says that community members will be co-opted once the committees are finalised, but it is not known whether they will include disabled people. A representative from the Human Rights Commission warns that “One in four Kiwis have a disability, and Auckland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities on earth: it’s important all voices are heard at the DHB decision making table.”

Auckland DHBs drop disability reps from advisory committees Newsroom

 

IHC pays tribute to Colin Meads

IHC Chief Executive Ralph Jones has paid tribute to Colin Meads who died this month, aged 81."While Colin is best known for rugby, to us he is one of a small number of distinguished IHC New Zealand Life Members recognised for their significant support for people with intellectual disabilities," said IHC’s chief executive, Ralph Jones. "Colin and Verna have always worked as a team in their dedication to IHC's cause and accordingly have made a huge difference to the lives of so many people with intellectual disabilities and their families."

From 1974 Colin started the newly formed King Country sub-branch of IHC. He befriended a young man called Dean who had grown up in Kimberley and the branch set up a special account into which Colin donated the proceeds from his many speaking engagements. In 1988 this money went towards buying a farm in Te Kuiti for people with intellectual disabilities. The idea was to provide employment and teach farming skills and it became home to Dean and other young men with disabilities for many years.

“Colin was a natural fundraiser and backed a number of ingenious farm-based fundraising schemes. He bought a horse each year at the yearling sales, and he and IHC supporters sold raffle tickets and raised between $110,000 and $120,000 a horse,” said Mr Jones. Colin also supported farmers Norm Cashmore and Mick Murphy who started the IHC Calf Scheme in 1983. They encouraged dairy farmers to raise a calf and donate the proceeds to IHC in exchange for a pair of gumboots. The IHC Calf & Rural Scheme is still going 33 years later and raises more than $1 million annually for people with disabilities. In the funeral notice, the Meads family suggested donations to IHC in lieu of flowers.

Colin Meads - A man who made a difference IHC

 

IHC library after-hour book returns to Wellington Public Library

IHC’s library is very popular but returning books in work hours can be a problem. IHC has now made an arrangement with Wellington Central Public Library that books from IHC’s library can now be posted into the return slot there on weekends and after hours. Wellington Public library is just across the road on Victoria Street from IHC. Books need to be wrapped and labelled to IHC Library before placing in the After Hours Return slot at the Wellington Central Library, 65 Victoria Street.