Systemic effort needed to flip the script for people with intellectual disabilities in 2019

Media release

11 February 2019

People with intellectual disabilities continue to be left behind going into 2019, begging the question – how long do they and their families and whānau have to wait for longstanding and serious issues to be resolved?

In its second annual report monitoring progress in the sector, IHC says systemic effort needs to be made to promote and protect the rights and citizenship entitlements of all people with intellectual disabilities as an essential part of embracing their wellbeing.

IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant says while the many initiatives across government underway are promising, it’s simply too early to tell what impact they will have.

“The Government needs a plan to address this right now, because in the meantime the disability and support sector is facing a $150 million funding shortfall, and this is truly reaching breaking point,” says Trish.

“We’re just months away from the Budget, and the Ministry of Health should make this a priority.

“From the end of 2017, and throughout last year, the new Coalition Government introduced a change in the direction that applies a broader social investment approach and a wellbeing and sustainability lens.

“Across party and across government, there must be agreement and consultation with disabled people, families and whānau, their representative organisations and non-government agencies to connect, build on and sustain transformative changes and gains.

“Disability supports must be properly resourced, health outcomes improved, education made inclusive and wait times for early intervention reduced.

The report, released today, looks at various domains including home, family and community life; fair systems; education; health; work; money; and justice.

It has found that there has been some progress with greater visibility and inclusion of people with disabilities as a specific population group, but problems and questions surrounding the 2018 New Zealand Census has highlighted what limited good data is available.

Key points in the report:

  • New Zealand is far from having taken the needed measures to ensure access to full healthcare access for all persons with disabilities. There needs to be substantive progress on enacting legislation to prohibit and prevent the practice of non-consensual treatments, including forced sterilisation.
  • The average wait time of 100 days for early intervention and specialist services needs to be reduced dramatically.
  • Young people with disabilities aged 15-24 are four times more likely than their non-disabled peers to not be in employment, education or training.
  • People with intellectual disabilities have been particularly disadvantaged and discriminated against by both universal and disability support systems that are fragmented, complex and unfair.
  • We need to take our human rights obligations seriously. To support and safeguard equal access to the law and justice there needs to be consistency across, and changes to, current laws and policies. These include both positive safeguards, such as supported decision-making, and access to advocacy and timely responses to abuse and neglect. Without fair and just systems, people with intellectual disabilities will continue to face instances where there decisions are not recognised as valid and court orders are demanded when they shouldn’t be.
  • Ministry of Health’s Funded Family Care (FFC) must be changed to address problems in place since its introduction in 2013. It has been described as a nightmare by families and subject to protracted and expensive litigation on the basis of unfair and discriminatory practices.

IHC will continue to track progress in all areas covered in the report this year and will report back across the domains covered.