CCS Disability Action says it supports the Governments plan to reform disability support services in New Zealand.
On Thursday, the Minister for Disability Issues announced that a long term transformation of disability support services (DSS) would begin with a co-design approach during early 2017. At the same time, a new pilot was launched for Palmerston North based on the principles of Enabling Good Lives.
CCS Disability Action, a typically conservative organisation supports many of the Governments decisions when it comes to disability issues, and last weeks announcement was no exception.
“There is a clear need to reform disability support services”, the organisations CEO David Matthew said on Friday.
Matthews stressed the importance of a full roll out, saying that the pilot in Palmerston North should be the last. Enabling Good Lives has been the big talking point in the disability sector since 2015, because it’s principles aim to allow disabled people to have more choice and control over their lives and the supports allocated. Pilots in Christchurch and the Waikato are complete, and both regions will continue to work under demonstration phase throughout 2017.
An announcement on the reforms to DSS was expected in late 2016 but due to former PM John Key’s sudden resignation, talks with cabinet were significantly delayed. A decision wasn’t reached until late February.
For CCS Disability Action, work will now continue on how their service provision can continue to incorporate the growing shift towards the self-direction approach. Matthews backs his organisation and urged the Government to be bold moving forward.
“Disabled people have gotten a raw deal for too long, the time for real change is now”, Matthews said.
The Enabling Good Lives demonstration will continue in the Waikato as the Minister for Disability Issues says systematic change needs to occur.
A co-design group will be formed to oversee what will become a total, systematic change to how people with disabilities are supported in New Zealand. Under the new system, those requiring support will receive a personal budget and the needs assessments will be much more strength based.
A major culture change within the disability support service sector, according to Minister Wagner. A significant revamp to the NASC culture, system, and process is needed. The changes will include a rebranding for the NASC organisations, such as Disability Support Link.
“To date, the disability support system has been more about the system than disabled people”, Wagner said.
The change will be underpinned by the principles of Enabling Good Lives, a direction that strongly supports greater choice and flexibility for people with disabilities. The Government will also use evidence of “what works” in future decisions.
Less than 45% of New Zealand’s disabled population is employed, and a new campaign from the Minister for Disability Issues is again a little hit and miss.
The Disability Confident campaign aims to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities, but in order to be successful, employers must be willing to forgo some of their pre-conceived ideas about what’s “best for business”.
Nicky Wagner, the Minister for Disability Issues, says that people with disabilities represent a vast pool of talent that employers can tap into to enhance their workplace. Wagner also touched on a good point in her comments about the campaign. She said that it also gives disabled employees more confidence and economic independence.
The campaign aims to support employers to hire, and retain, disabled employees.
On the MSD website, there is more information about the Disability Confident campaign. A guide can also be found, featuring ‘how-to’s’ for employing disabled staff and a section on what hiring people with disabilities can do for a business. But, like a lot of other attempts to improve opportunities for disabled people in the workforce, this campaign relies on employers being willing to participate.
The fear that I have is that most employers won’t. Attempting to engage the mainstream workforce and the disability community has been done before. To moderate forms of success and failure.
Originally, one of the big principles of Enabling Good Lives focused on creating successful employment outcomes for people with disabilities. However, in order for participants to be eligible for that help, they first needed to be on a living support of some kind.