Govt asked to review disability funding

By Kate Shuttleworth

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The Ministries of Social Development and Health have been asked to review disability funding to make it more accessible and less confusing to people with a disability.

A report, released today by the Convention Coalition, shows one in five New Zealanders who have a disability face discrimination on a daily basis.

The report was launched by Minister of Disability Issues, Tariana Turia, and looks at how New Zealand is living up to its human rights obligations to disabled people.

She said the report added to the increasing body of evidence on the experience of disabled peoples in terms of access, participation and fulfilment of their rights.

"It is concerning to see a message coming through from disabled persons on the performance of various state agencies who note their concern with the prevailing attitude from those agencies that 'we know best'," said Mrs Turia.

The report focused on six key areas: social inclusion; health; employment; access to disability-related services and support; barriers to making complaints; and lack of disability awareness.

It found Government departments need to form partnerships with organisations representing disabled people.

The report said the implementation of both the New Zealand Disability Strategy and the United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) is fragmented, with each government department doing different things.

This leads to discrimination in one area escalating to other areas, the report found.

Chair of the convention coalition Rachel Noble said disabled New Zealanders told them discrimination in one area often led to more discrimination in other areas.

"For instance, lack of access to transport and disability support services means it's harder to find employment. Without employment it can be harder to access quality health services and take part in social and community activities," she said.

Green Party disability spokeswoman Mojo Mathers said New Zealand still had a long way to go on the rights of the disabled person.

"The Government needs to take the report seriously by committing to implement its key recommendations and ensuring that all arms of the Government step up to their obligations," said Ms Mathers.

New Zealand ratified the UNCRPD in 2008.

Recommendations to the Government:

*Government appoint one central agency to develop and lead the implementation of the UNCRPD, working with organisations in the sector.

* State services organisations, Crown entities and local bodies be required to publish data about disabled people in their annual reports.

* The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment review and strengthen the building code, and ensure penalties for non-compliance of updated mandatory standards, such as hearing loops, visual alarms and mandatory evacuation standards in all public buildings.

* The Minister of Health direct District Health Boards to prepare and implement annual plans under the UNCRPD and monitor them to ensure that disability issues and disabled people are treated with consistently high standards.

* The Ministry of Social Development and Health review disability funding structures to make them simpler to access, more consistent and less confusing to persons seeking funding from multiple sources for one purpose.

* That legal documentation, government policies and complaints procedures and information of public interest be reviewed in terms of accessibility and usability by people with a variety of impairment.

- APNZ

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