IHC Hot Issues - May 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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Disabled children excluded from NZ

Children’s Commissioner’s State of Care report

Sector Update from the Ministry of Education on new learning support projects and pilots

Parents and schools battle for special education support

Student Rights Service helpline

Autistic teenage boy committed to mental health unit

Nelson Marlborough DHB commissions review following death of disabled person

Self-care resource kit for parents of disabled children under development

Disabled woman who feeds the homeless becomes homeless

Disability Connect advocacy courses and support groups in Auckland

Disability Matters Conference, Dunedin, November 2017: Making the Convention Real

Review of disabled people led monitoring for CRPD

New Statistics New Zealand on-line tool for disability information (but not yet ID)

Call for inquiry into abuse in Australian group homes

Research shows shared home ownership is good for disabled people

2017 IHC Art Awards

 

 

Disabled children excluded from NZ

Since the 1880s New Zealand’s immigration policy has specifically discriminated against disabled people. In recent years there have been numerous stories about families that have not been granted residency because of a disabled child. However, Immigration New Zealand claims some families have been using a loophole in the policy whereby members of a family arrive first and subsequently apply to bring family members who were disabled or had special needs into New Zealand at a later date. The agency has now prohibited parents from leaving children off residence applications or withdrawing them, as it said some families were doing so to circumvent health criteria and then later made a humanitarian case for their child to be allowed to stay.

Now the surveillance is going further with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) working with the Ministry of Education to identify the number of dependent children receiving special needs education funding who may be in New Zealand unlawfully. Immigration officials can reject a residence application for all family members if one of them does not meet criteria and that policy is aimed at minimising costs on publicly-funded healthcare and special education services. Of course none of these changes consider the effect on the child and their family. New Zealand is likely missing out on many productive families who could contribute significantly to our country. Last year the family of a mathematics professor was refused entry because of the son’s Autism. The father wrote of the injustice of immigration criteria.

Unfortunately, New Zealand has a reservation on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which allows us to interpret and apply the Convention in the context of our other laws and therefore continue this discrimination. This reservation is something that an inclusive government should no longer have. Unfortunately, Australia and several other countries have similar policies, making the world an unfriendly place for many disabled children and their families.

Constitutional issues & human rights Ministry of Justice

Immigrants 'bypassing health criteria' - MBIE Radio New Zealand

My son’s autism meant he was refused New Zealand residency – so we’re leaving Guardian

Australia has kept disabled migrant children out for decades – it’s time we gave them protection instead The Conversation

 

Children’s Commissioner’s State of Care report

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner has issued its third State of Care report. The report assesses the conditions in Oranga Tamariki’s nine secure residences in New Zealand to establish if they are meeting the needs and upholding the rights of children and young people. While these institutions are called ‘residences’ they are actually secure custodial institutions with children, some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable, detained without choice. They are separated from their families, friends and communities. Many have learning disabilities or mental health issues. The report found that there is room for considerable improvement. Although there have been allegations of violence and bullying, complaints are rarely reported. Alarmingly, the majority of those detained are Māori. Urgent attention is required to reduce the numbers in care. The Commissioner also says, “We are committed to becoming ever more sophisticated in our own monitoring and applying the lessons from past abuse while in state care, to prevent abuse in the future.”

State of Care Report 2017  Office of the Children’s Commissioner

 

Sector Update from the Ministry of Education on new learning support projects and pilots

On May 9 the Ministry of Education (MOE) held a meeting to update educationalists, non-government organisations, parents and others from the disability sector on projects and pilots related to learning support (formerly known as special education). Several senior staff spoke and answered questions including the Secretary for Education and the National Director of Learning Support. A video "My world, my view" featured the views of disabled children in their school settings.

One of the interesting new projects under development is a new disputes resolution process for schools, parents and MOE, but it is not yet clear how it will work. Speakers from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research talked about the development of new outcome measures for those students who won't meet National Standards but are still capable of achievement. Their pilot study identified three indicators and the Ministry will now decide whether to develop more. There was also a short presentation on the effects of the new Education Update Amendment Act which comes into force this month, which includes outlawing seclusion rooms. We also heard about new funding for under-8-year-olds with severe behavioural issues and for 3-4 year-olds with oral language difficulties. MOE will be an active member of the new Social Investment Agency to be set up by July 1 2017 to share information with other government agencies.

My world, my view Ministry of Education

Learning Support (previously Special Education) Update Ministry of Education

Ed Act Update - the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 Ministry of Education

 

Parents and schools battle for special education support

A report from online news agency Newsroom has revealed what we already know, the desperation of parents and schools to meet the needs of children with special educational needs. "They have told Newsroom their children’s special needs are either not being recognised, or if they are, schools are finding it difficult to access funds for teacher aides. Teachers are becoming increasingly aware of issues such as Autism Spectrum Disorder but their cries for help are not being heard. The issue is reaching a crescendo in the hidden pages of closed Facebook support groups, where the agony of parents is heart breaking. The same theme keeps emerging – to access any help for their children, they must become ‘THAT parent’ – the annoying, nagging, complaining mum or dad who is constantly on the principal’s doorstep making demands. Or, they need to know someone who knows the system and can guide them through the maze of forms, procedures and hoops to get help."

Fraught and frustrated: parents battle for special needs children Newsroom

 

Student Rights Service helpline

The Student Rights Service (formerly the Parents Legal Information Line) is a national, free phone service for parents and students wanting information and assistance on issues for children and young people at school. The service offers parents, caregivers and students, information and assistance on a wide range of issues involving children, young people and the school system. Topics include: Students with disabilities; rights to education; bullying; enrolments and zoning; stand downs/suspensions/exclusions and expulsions. Volunteers will help with resolving disputes and contacting the school on behalf of parents or students. They also have free downloadable resource called ‘Problems at School: A practical guide to your rights and obligations’. Their free phone number is 0800 499 488.

Student Rights Service Community Law, Wellington and Hutt Valley

 

Autistic teenage boy committed to mental health unit

A New Plymouth mother is upset her teenage son was committed to a mental health unit, saying he is Autistic and does not have mental illness. The 14-year-old boy was taken from the special needs unit at his high school to Taranaki Base Hospital under the Mental Health Act where he stayed for three weeks. Taranaki District Health Board says drastic measures were needed to deal with the 14-year-old. Police were called when he became aggressive. His mother says when he came home three weeks later he didn't want to leave the house.

Boy committed despite having no mental health problems Stuff

Mother of autistic teen says health system let her son down by locking him up under Mental Health Act  TVNZ

 

Nelson Marlborough DHB commissions review following death of disabled person

For the second time in 20 years the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has reviewed its services after the death of a disabled person by their parent. The latest death of Ruby Knox triggered the review which was commissioned by the Board. It would be led by Rosemary Marks, a developmental paediatrician at Starship Children's Hospital, who has long experience with Autism. The Chief Medical Officer of the DHB said Autism could be challenging and there were "many unique factors about this tragic event that cannot be publicly disclosed under privacy law." The focus would be on how the Board might better transition patients to adult care, identify risk when parents or caregivers declined support and respond to concerns about possible family violence. Dr Baker said constantly reviewing services was part of the process for improvement, and too much focus on unique aspects of a single case limited what could be learned. He said improving services that supported the transition from paediatrics to adult care was a priority for both the DHB and the South Island Child Health Alliance.

Ruby Knox murder case: DHB reveals review details Radio New Zealand

 

Self-care resource kit for parents of disabled children under development

A Whanganui clinical psychology doctorate student, who is a former respite carer, is developing a resource kit for parents of children with disabilities. Jana Oskam interviewed parents from 12 Whanganui families who have a child with either Autism or cerebral palsy. She said that although they are very different disabilities the need for parental self-care is similar. Jana talked to parents about how they managed their own self-care as they looked after their child with high needs. She decided to develop the self-care resource kit as part of her research because she felt there was a need for it. "The goal is to help parents see that self-care is very important. I've noticed a lack of positive support and understanding around parental health and well-being, and this is mirrored in academic literature. I believe this is an area that needs research, as enhancing parental well-being may have positive effects for the parent-child relationship.” Currently there are more than 95,000 disabled New Zealand children under the age of 15, which is 11 per cent of the child population.

Psychology student developing a resource for parents Wanganui Chronicle

 

Disabled woman who feeds the homeless becomes homeless

A disabled Napier woman who helps feed homeless people has herself become homeless because of the housing crisis and Work and Income policies. Tania Thomson and her teenage son are having to leave the rental property they have lived in for 10 years because it is being sold. But there are no properties for her to move into and so has had to go to a motel and put her possessions into storage. Unfortunately Work and Income only covers some of the costs and Tania will be left with few possessions and a big debt. Her case manager applied for additional funding on the basis of her disability but this was declined. Stuart Nash, Member of Parliament for Napier, says disabled people should be given special consideration and each case treated on its merits, rather than with rigid rules. Even following the change in circumstances Tania and her son continue to do the ‘bread run’ on Friday nights, distributing bread, warm clothing and blankets to the city's homeless. She says it's her way of making the world a better place.

Good Samaritan mum and son who help homeless face sleeping on the street Stuff

 

Disability Connect advocacy courses and support groups in Auckland

Disability Connect is an Auckland based disability support organisation formerly known as the Parent and Family Resource Centre. They run regular advocacy courses and support groups for disabled people and family members. The organisation is currently running ‘An introduction to self and peer advocacy for disabled people and their families: Your rights, and how to access them’ and on July 12 will be conducting a seminar on sexuality education for anyone educating young people and adults with special needs. Other seminars and groups include culturally diverse parenting, Chinese Autism parents group, dealing with Work and Income, legal issues in education and adulthood.

Seminars and workshops Disability Connect

 

Disability Matters Conference, Dunedin, November 2017: Making the Convention Real

The University of Otago is holding its second Disability Studies Conference on November 26-29 2017. This year’s conference follows 2013’s inaugural conference ‘Every Body In’. The 2017 conference will focus on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The University is asking for papers to be submitted that address articles of the CRPD, and look at how the Convention’s implementation is going from a range of perspectives including practice, policy and research initiatives. The University would like to encourage participation in the conference from people throughout the disability sector including people with disabilities, families/whānau, students, practitioners, policy-makers, researchers, representatives of self-advocacy, advocacy, services, community organisations and government departments. This is an opportunity for anyone interested in disability matters to participate and have their say. Submissions for papers are due in June.

Disability Matters conference:Kia whai tikanga te Kawenata, November 2017 University of Otago

 

Review of disabled people led monitoring for CRPD

IN 2008 New Zealand ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Under the convention New Zealand is obligated to monitor and report on the implementation of the Convention, conducted by an Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM). The IMM is made up of the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Convention Coalition Monitoring Group (CCMG). The CCMG was formed in 2010 from six Disabled People’s Organisations, which were governed by disabled people in line with the expectations of Article 33 of the Convention.

As part of the monitoring obligations, people with disabilities were trained in international disability research methodology to undertake research on, and with, other people with disabilities. In 2016, the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) commissioned a review of New Zealand’s disabled people-led monitoring. The review looked at the effectiveness and efficiency of the monitoring completed in this area provided recommendations to inform future arrangements. Although it was found New Zealand was generally doing well, it was noted that wider participation and perspectives could be included. The ODI will be leading the next steps on improving disabled people-led monitoring under the CRPD and the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026 in consultation with interested stakeholders.

Report on the review of disabled people-led monitoring Office for Disability Issues

 

New Statistics New Zealand on-line tool for disability information (but not yet ID)

Statistics New Zealand has developed an interactive on-line tool from data gathered from the 2013 Census and following the Disability Survey. The tool has information on disability type, age and region. However, it only includes data about people with certain impairments which are physical, hearing, vision and psychological impairments. It does not include intellectual impairment. The new tool was developed in response to calls for quality information for areas smaller than regions with the hope that such data can be used to help service providers tailor their services more efficiently in different areas of the country. The tool will also allow for comparisons to be made between different regions and New Zealand as a whole. The data behind the tool can also be downloaded.

Disability estimates for small areas 2013 Statistics New Zealand

Economic, social and cultural rights in New Zealand - draft report  Ministry of Justice

 

Call for inquiry into abuse in Australian group homes

More than 100 Australian academics have signed an open letter to the Australian Prime Minister calling for a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with a disability. The ABC has documented numerous cases of abuse and mistreatment of disabled people, particularly in group homes, and the open letter asks for a Royal Commission with "substantial investigative powers, including the capacity to compel witnesses from within service organisations; inspectorate powers to visit institutional environments which facilitate violence, abuse and neglect; and the ability to refer criminal matters to the police."

Group home 'hell': Open letter calls for royal commission into treatment of people with disabilities ABC

 

Research shows shared home ownership is good for disabled people

Australian research by the University of New South Wales has found that shared home ownership schemes for disabled people bring potential benefits but also expose them to debt risks. Independent advocacy and financial planning for the people and families involved are critical for the success of shared ownership. The research has been published in a new report: ‘Shared home ownership by people with disability’. Shared ownership covers housing models where ownership of a dwelling is divided between a person who lives in the house and an equity partner, such as a government department or community housing provider. It enables people on lower incomes to access home ownership and can enhance choice, security and sense of ownership. The report highlights four shared ownership models – shared equity, restricted-resale shared equity, individual mixed equity and group mixed equity – which are most suitable for people with different income, asset levels and repayment abilities. However, there are also risks of becoming trapped through lack of equity or ongoing costs.

Shared home ownership helps people with disability, researchers find University of New South Wales

 

2017 IHC Art Awards

The IHC Art Awards are on again for 2017 with entries opening tomorrow, Thursday 1 June 2017. The Art Awards remain an annual highlight as a showcase for the talent and achievements of people with intellectual disability. Artworks are traditionally everything and anything from sculptures, photographs, installations and textile art, to painting and drawing. The Awards are open to all New Zealanders with an intellectual disability, aged 13 or over, regardless of whether they use IHC services.  Entry to the Awards is through the IHC website at the following address: ihc.org.nz/art-awards-entry-form

IHC Art Awards event page IHC