Our commitment to respecting people with intellectual disabilities
To people with intellectual disabilities, family members, friends, members, staff and the community,
I wanted to update you around the media coverage in relation to industrial action.
It appears a key message for the union is to suggest people with intellectual disabilities as a collective group are violent and abusive. Media stories have emphasised this and have even identified people we support (without actually giving names).
This has upset me greatly and I know it has upset many of you – we have had many calls from staff and families.
We have never faced a situation where the union and a handful of their members have exploited people with intellectual disabilities in order to progress a cause – until now. This demonising of a group of people we value as individuals has angered and distressed all of us. It is in no way a fair representation of the people we support – nor is it the view of the majority of New Zealanders.
Let me assure you we will be addressing this with the union and we will continue to ensure respect for people with disabilities and staff.
It is possible there will be other news items, and if there are allegations or issues we ask that they be raised through appropriate channels.
There has also been a suggestion from the union that we put the safety of people we support before our staff. We believe they are equally important and as you know we have emphasised this in our Health and Safety materials. In fact, one of our messages is that if you don’t put yourself first, you can’t help others.
We will continue to call for respect for the staff and the people we support.