IHC Hot Issues – October 2011 : IHC New Zealand | Understanding Intellectual disability

By: Ihc  05-Apr-2012

Posted: Monday, October 31, 2011 | 502 views

  • IHC’s Call to Action – what needs to change for children and young people with disabilities
  • Listen to us – this is what we need
  • Focus needed on children and young people with disabilities
  • New Zealand calls for action
  • Families Commission research reinforces investing in the early years
  • Encouraging moves for children
  • Achieving a fully inclusive society 2011 – Disability Minister’s report lacks any focus on our children and young people
  • Action needed on Disability Action Plan
  • People with intellectual disabilities feature in disability report
  • Symbolic gestures rejected by disability community
  • Key government departments continue to miss out disabled people
  • Disability Commissioner legislation introduced
  • Sleepover wages settlement legislation passed
  • Home and community support standard consultation ends 4 November

IHC’s Call to Action – what needs to change for children and young people with disabilities

Given that politicians from all parties are focused on achieving better outcomes for New Zealand’s children, IHC wants to be sure that children and young people with disabilities are considered in all of the discussions and planning proposed.

IHC is sending our Call to Action to all MPs, children’s organisations,

Families formed IHC over 60 years ago – they called for action so their children  with an intellectual disability could attend school, get the right health services and support.

In 2011 many of the battles are different but sadly some are the same.

Listen to us – this is what we need

The stories in IHC’s Call to Action mirror the experiences of thousands of children in New Zealand today. We can do better as a country to ensure that all children have a strong start in life – every day disabled children and young people are missing out at home, at school and in the community.

Here’s what IHC calls for:

  • Government to increase its attention on the range of issues impacting on disabled children and young people –  as an integral part of planning for all children and as priority areas in the Disability Action Plan 
  • Progress on the Action Plan to be monitored by the Children’s Commissioner and the Families Commission
  • Early access to good quality information and support for families
  • Timely, sustained and integrated support
  • Flexible support arrangements to meet the needs of different family situations

We also want:

  • Integrated funding across government agencies and coordinated service  delivery
  • Recognition of the important role families play
  • Strengthened legal protections for disabled children in out-of-home care
  • Access to quality inclusive education at every age – early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary
  • Transition and vocational services that meet the needs of young people leaving school

Focus needed on children and young people with disabilities

As the election campaign starts, let’s focus on some of our most vulnerable citizens – children and young people. In the November Hot Issues before the election we will set out the political parties’ policies on children and on people with disabilities.

Those political parties that have specific disability policies published so far are:

Have a look at the other major political parties’ policies as they are released:

New Zealand calls for action

Families Commission research reinforces investing in the early years

In research released by the Families Commission at the end of September, the same issues and themes demand attention:

  • Government intervention in the early years is vital – such programmes and services have stronger effects than those that intervene later and can pay significant dividends
  • A mixture of universal provision and targeted, intensive support is most effective – universal services play a key role in identifying vulnerable families who would benefit from more targeted interventions. There are fewer providers of intensive support to families with high needs
  • Government is the primary funder of early-intervention programmes and services – funding ranges from partial funding to total funding, providers often having to apply for multiple lots of funding to put services together
  • Any changes to service provision should be focused on early intervention for the most vulnerable families. A limited number of services are aimed at vulnerable families, and service delivery could be improved. Evidence suggests that this group is growing in numbers
  • These families often have complex and multiple needs – some can be addressed immediately (such as housing), others may require longer service provision
  • Evaluations of programmes and services also need to be more effective –
  • to understand what has worked well and why, and whether it is effective in meeting families’ needs

Encouraging moves for children

IHC welcomes the following moves for children:

Achievinga fully inclusive society 2011 – Disability Minister’s report lacks any focus on our children and young people

The only references to children in Achieving a Fully Inclusive Society 2011 published at the end of September are a vague mention of the Special Education review and new disability practice triggers for social workers.

IHC is pleased the report highlights the Government’s vision for a fully inclusive education system that ensures all children and young people have access to high quality education to participate and succeed at school. But where is the detail about action?

We are also pleased that Child Youth and Family aims to strengthen knowledge and skills in working with disabled children, young people and their families – to enhance the quality of services and supports, and their participation in decisions. The disability practice triggers focus on early needs assessment, mobilisation of cross-sectoral services and early planning for transition to adult services – all things IHC calls for.

Work on improving the transitions of disabled students from school into post-school life in Christchurch is also welcome.

But there’s nothing overall about what the Government is doing – or plans to do – to ensure all disabled children have the best start in life and in their essential transitions to school, adulthood and work.

People with intellectual disabilities feature in disability report

IHC welcomes people with intellectual disabilities featuring in Achieving a Fully Inclusive Society 2011 by:

  • highlighting the need to improve the health status of people with   intellectual disabilities – after long advocacy by us on this known issue
  • working on supported decision making

IHC hopes that the new model of behavior support services will actually result in positive change for people with intellectual disability.

Action needed on Disability Action Plan

IHC is also pleased about progress set out in Achieving a Fully Inclusive Society 2011 about:

  • changing the way that supports are provided to disabled people
  • taking a fresh look at what government should provide to support disabled people during the day, when they are not working or involved in training or education
  • improving paid work opportunities for disabled people

But it has to be about more than endless development of options.

It is over three years since the first review of the New Zealand Disability Strategy was released. Where are the targets and the clear reporting on them? The annual report says that the CEOs’ Group’s key task is monitoring. We thought that the CEOs’ Group was set up to actually drive change across the sector and government – yet there’s nothing on that.  

IHC would like to see a meaningful annual report from the Disability Issues Minister that says how actual improvements are being made to the everyday lives of disabled children, young people and adults.

Tucked away at the end it mentions that New Zealand’s first report to the United Nations in 2011 says that many disabled people experience poorer outcomes in health, education, employment and elsewhere. The New Zealand Government is responding to these issues by developing a Disability Action Plan, with concrete actions around specified priorities, it says. When will we see real action?

Symbolic gestures rejected by disability community

Deaf Aotearoa Chief Executive Rachel Noble says the review points out nothing new – and offers no solutions to how government agencies could better work with the Deaf community to address the issues. Overall deaf people are no better off than they were before the Act was written. By offering no solutions to major issues – like accessibility to sign language interpreters – the review denies deaf people the ability to have a voice, to act as a partner or even to have a lead role in improving their status in New Zealand society, she says

Key government departments continue to miss out disabled people

Among the three key government departments, only the Education Ministry makes the effort to say what it is doing for disabled people. In their annual reports published in October, the Health and Social Development Ministries have little to say about disabled people, despite their major roles.

IHC applauds the Education Ministry which states at page 34 of its annual report:

We are making schools more accountable for being inclusive of all students. Students with special education needs must have the option of learning in their local school if they wish.

By contrast, the Health Ministry, with the responsibility for planning, funding, regulating and monitoring disability support services, devotes scant attention to disabled people – despite the new Chief Executive’s overview stating:

Work is ongoing to improve services offered to the most vulnerable, such as older New Zealanders and those with disabilities, and to improve services across a range of health issues including chronic disease, mental health and oral health.

This time the Social Development Ministry doesn’t even mention the Office for Disability Issues – and nothing on its role supporting the Disability Issues Ministerial Committee or supposedly leading the CEOs’ Group. There is no mention of disabled people on benefits. There is only small reference to work and vocational support for disabled people and changing attitudes towards disabled people

Disability Commissioner legislation introduced

Sleepover wages settlement legislation passed

The Sleepover Settlement (Wages) Bill was passed unanimously under urgency after the Health Select Committee recommended changes. It became law on 17 October. The legislation sets in place a responsible and affordable framework for employers and employees in the health and disability sector, says Health Minister Tony Ryall. It ensures that some of the most vulnerable people continue to receive quality care in the community

Home and community support standard consultation ends 4 November

The revised draft Home and community support sector Standard DZ 8158 is available for public comment until 4 November. It aims to ensure that people receive good quality support in their home and community to maintain or increase their independence, participate in their communities and fulfill the roles they value.

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