I was the second person in NZ to testify at the Confidential Forum, and having read the final report I can assure you it's a very accurate representation of what went on in the psych institutions. Those of us who survived them are still suffering the effects decades later.
I don't know of anyone who wanted financial compensation (although with the benefit cuts it would be very handy now), but we did- and still do- want, and deserve an official apology from the Government. I had this vague idea at the time that my testimony MIGHT help get that but wasn't surprised when it didn't. Around the same time the Clark Govt was formally apologising for the Poll tax on the Chinese immigrants some 100 years ago. Priorities, right? The whole Forum thing was a token gesture- apparently it was meant to make us feel better, talking about our experiences, and they would also provide free counselling if required. Everything except say sorry. There was never going to be any action taken as a result of the report so why they even bothered was beyond me, and the general public was never going to care either.
One doesn't want to ever find themselves at the mercy of the state in NZ. So don't get chronically sick or disabled, especially if it's not covered by ACC. Don't ever have to find yourself reliant on a benefit for the rest of your life. And never take it for granted that it won't happen to you.
Thanks for your articles Hilary, they've been really interesting reading.
One doesn't want to ever find themselves at the mercy of the state in NZ. So don't get chronically sick or disabled, especially if it's not covered by ACC. Don't ever have to find yourself reliant on a benefit for the rest of your life. And never take it for granted that it won't happen to you.Thanks for your articles Hilary, they've been really interesting reading
Thanks Kay....saved me a whole lot of typing.
NZ has a LONG way to go.
Significantly, the Office would have a governance group of consumers – disabled people and advocates.
Governance? Despite being called a 'Council' wasn't that just another *advisory* group with no decision-making or budget-setting authority?
That was the plan. Of course the ideal didn't last long.
Thanks Kay. That is really interesting history.
Robert Martin at the United Nations
First person from the world's intellectually-impaired communities to ever speak in that place. Another proud moment for New Zealand.
The end of sheltered workshops and new employment rights for disabled workers
My experience is only with the last years of the Auckland Sheltered Workshop and Training Trust. While it’s since been incorporated into a whole new entity I’m glad that the Mangere facility still exists, as it provided an invaluable post-school transition to the wider world back in the day.
Interesting public lecture tomorrow Thursday at Massey Wellington campus for anyone in Wellington
School of Social Work and School of Public Health
Prof Rosemarie Garland-Thomson
Professor of English & Critical Disability Studies
Emory University, Atlanta, GA. USA
“Disability Bioethics: The Case for Human Biodiversity Conversation”
A crucial challenge for critical disability studies is developing an argument for why disabled people should be in the world, should inhabit our democratic, shared public sphere. What I call eugenic world building strives to eliminate disability and, along with it, people with disabilities from human communities through scientific and medical technologies, such as genetic manipulation, selective abortion, medical normalization, and even euthanasia. In opposition, I offer a counter-eugenic argument that variant forms and functions we count as disabilities and abilities do not predict or determine in any meaningful way quality of life, human value, happiness, merit, achievement, virtue, contribution, or potential. I explain my position as a disability bioethicist and demonstrate that it is essential to conserve human biodiversity in our shared world building projects.
Date: Thursday 16 April, 2015, 5.30pm
Venue: Massey University, Wellington Campus, Block 5 Level 3, Rm 18
NZSL Interpreters will be present
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details
“Disability policy is a mixture of progress and retreat. Negatives included the reintroduction of work-testing on beneficiaries under the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Act 2013 and Funded Family Care (FFC).”
Yes, indeed a retreat, this “work testing”, and the now introduced “work ability assessments”, all dressed up as “support” for disabled to “assist” them into work on the open employment market. Employment in that market may be possible for some, but not necessarily for all considered “fit” for work now.
I raised these issues with the new WINZ approach before, which to some degree follows the UK approaches of past years. Here is a reminder of what is behind it all:
(more parts on that available on that blog)
But reviews of the WCA in the UK have shown how difficult it is to treat all with the same brush. The WCA has such a poor image now, and is still not delivering well, it is ripe for the scrapheap for failed policies:
And there are some alternative ideas being worked on now, steering away from past failed policies:
A recently released report also questions the New Zealand approach:
As for the treatment of disabled under the present government, it seems to be more about “campaigns” of awareness, some pet projects here and there, and nothing much else but “monitoring” and writing annual reports.
And WINZ are reluctant to come forward with information on the “success” of their new approaches, as the following post reveals:
quality of life, human value, happiness, merit, achievement, virtue, contribution, or potential
it seems to be more about “campaigns” of awareness
Where though? They seem to be frittering their limited funds on propping up small-scale local community projects that would have got funds elsewhere previously.
Isn't it about showing "we're doing something good" at the lowest cost by running small scale "pilot" schemes for as long as possible without actually committing to doing anything at all at full scale. These pilots, with their obvious benefits, are put forward as if universal access to them is around the corner. It isn't. As Sacha has pointed out before, we already know what changes are likely to work. What is required is the will to make them. We are 24% but we are diverse. We all have votes.
The passage of the 2008 Disability Act to ensure New Zealand law was compliant with CRPD, and New Zealand’s ratification of the Convention in September 2008, were two of the last actions of the Labour-led government.
Given my recent pondering of the very informative Fault lines: human rights in New Zealand report, my thoughts are perhaps best expressed by just quoting from some of the bits that really stuck out for me:
"After signing the CRPD the Government carried out a National Interest Analysis (‘NIA’). The NIA was relatively superficial as there was a push for New Zealand to ratify as soon as possible given its role in promoting the Convention. A cabinet paper on the NIA prepared by the ODI in 2008 suggests there was no real attempt to address the more subtle implications of the Convention. Issues such as access to buildings or reasonable accommodation in education were considered to be adequately addressed by existing legislation such as the Building Act 2004 and the Education Act 1989 – despite the fact that there had been, and continue to be, ongoing issues with both."
...and fast forward seven years...
A Disability Action Plan 2014-2018 has been developed and a new Independent Monitoring Mechanism comprising the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Convention Coalition (made up of Disabled People’s Organisations) now monitors the CRPD.
...again from the report...
"The Indepdent Monitoring Mechanism asked “that the Government provide the IMM with a progress report, as at the end of 2014, on implementing the recommendations of the IMM’s 2011/12 report.” To date there has been no official government response to either of the IMM reports, other than carefully considering the “suggestions” of the first report.
The absence of an official response suggests that while the IMM is a unique monitoring mechanism, the Government can treat it as a discretionary internal mechanism choosing when and if it wishes to respond. It both funds the monitoring mechanism, appoints and constitutes it, and can equally disregard it if it so wishes."
Thank you. Until we sign up to the Optional Protocol, the UN Convention means very little to NZ politicians. Unless coherent, smart NZ disability activism makes them take notice.
These pilots, with their obvious benefits, are put forward as if universal access to them is around the corner. It isn’t.
Yes, Enabling Good Lives is a classic of the genre.
What does "coherent, smart NZ disability activism " look like Sacha?
What we were doing in Auckland at one stage, frankly. And in other times and places throughout the history Hilary has been traversing. Just not really the whole country for some years now.
Hopefully that will come right eventually, though the DPOs seem to have committed to meekness for the time being. Ezekiel has illustrated the consequences of that pretty well. Interesting that the organisations getting quoted in media over the last couple of months have been the large service providers CCS and IHC again.
Of course NZ law isn't compliant with the CRPD. There are aspects of immigration and adoption law for starters which contradict the principles of the CRPD. And of now the NZ Public Health and Disability Act Amendment Act.
But there were some politicians who did try to improve the laws before the Disability Act was passed in 2008.
Bear with me a minute....
Lots of talk at the moment about Bridges and the bridges and the Cabinet Manual.
Dr Kim McGregor's shot accross the bows about the 2009 threat to reduce funding if she and Louise kept on talking about rape and sexual violence....sent me back to this....http://www.victoria.ac.nz/sacs/pdf-files/Fears-constraints-and-contracts-Grey-and-Sedgwick-2014.pdf
and this particular paragraph....
"It may be appropriate to consult outside interest groups when developing policy. This should be discussed with the Minister's office beforehand. In some circumstances, this consultation may be more appropriate after the policy has been considered by Cabinet."
and especially this next bit...
"Some Acts prescribe the consultation a Minister must undertake before making certain statutory decisions. The Minister and department should ensure that in such cases, adequate consultation has taken place in accordance with the Act. (Cabinet Office, 2011, para.6)"
I have downloaded the Fault lines report Ezekiel linked to(thanks)....but a part of me can hardly bear reading yet another piece of work describing how things are supposed to be, how things actually are and how to change the system to make it how it should be.
Interesting that the organisations getting quoted in media over the last couple of months have been the large service providers CCS and IHC again.
Well, hey, here's a bit from DPA NZ...http://www.dpa.org.nz/meeting-with-parliaments-health-committee-about-repeal-of-the-health-and-disability-amendment-act-2013-
Seems they had the ear of the Health Select Committee on the 2nd April...DPA and their good buddies NZDSN. Of which CCS and IHC are members....having big gummint contracts for providing supports to disabled persons. (NZDSN has a board member who vehemently opposes paying family carers)
The DPA piece suggests that they all got a good hearing from the Select Committee...but the MP I spoke to the other day who was there...couldn't even remember the occasion.
Must try harder!
And their goal on the day?
DPA hope that the Committee will act on our recommendation to do a review or inquiry into this legislation, so they can hear from more disabled people and their family members on this issue.
Only in the stultifying climate of Wellington bureaucracy would 'hoping' for an inquiry be seen as activism worth the effort.
This may shed some light on DPA's current approach to change:
[CEO] Rachel [Noble] says, “It is easy for us to go back and say what was done to us and what was done for us. Our future is what is done with us. We have a partnership with Government which is great, but we also need to establish partnerships with other sectors, such as business to help us champion our rights (this is called civil action).”
Rachel concludes by saying “DPA has introduced the concept of ‘I am Able’ and we have a ‘I am Able’ website ready to launch, but as an organisation we don’t want to own the concept.
“We want to start a civil action/ social entrepreneurial movement in New Zealand involving everybody who wants to claim full citizenship for disabled people.”
And the major player in their world, the government's Office for Disability Issues, has a new CEO who is also promoting partnership as a key way of working.
I support all that, but not at the expense of de-fanging some of the only resourced national organisations whose job is meant to include representing forcefully the interests of all the disabled people who don't have a seat at the table. Begging for crumbs and a pat on the head is not going to cut it. They need to be able to tell us all what real results they have achieved in our name.
Here's a media release stating that the Ministry of Health has released data on the people using disability support services:
When I went looking for this just now, I couldn't find it, but perhaps it will appear eventually.
When I went looking for this just now, I couldn't find it, but perhaps it will appear eventually.
You really have to have a chuckle Angela.....you're right, its not there...well not on the surface anyway.
What does it actually say....what new information will it throw up?
"the age, ethnicity, marital status, accommodation, deprivation levels and disability types of people using ministry-funded disability support services."
Well, that is the sort of information that should be being collected by the NASCs, possibly extracted from SOCRATES?
The question is....why now?
The Budget is coming up and the gummint has no small amount of egg on it's face owing to the low uptake of FFC.
The Appeal Court decision for Attorney General v Spencer MUST surely be pending....good god, the hearing was last October and took less than a day.
The Appeal Court was told in no uncertain terms that "the numbers" (of disabled people, with high and very high care needs, being entirely supported by unpaid family) where grossly exaggerrated.
The the need to pass the evil section 70E of the PHDAct(2) (to limit liabilty for claims under the old version) was based again on grossly inflated figures of potential claimants....there are three of us, by the way.
So...if the release of this data is going to clarify those figures....for what purpose???
To me, the key statement here is....
"It will also help providers understand national and regional trends and inform their planning and service development."
The contracted providers seem to have their grubby little mitts around the bulk of DSS funding.
It may well be that FFC will get an upgrade....lucky for those who qualify.
It may well be that there will be another injection of funds so the contracted providers can continue and extend their good work.
etc, etc, etc.
“The more we understand about disabled people and the support they need, the more we can do to enable them to live normal lives.
Now, where have we heard THAT before?
I would be very interested in seeing this. Probably just some information from their SOCRATES database so it will be people eligible for NASC rather than those who didn't bother trying (such as those with autism until last year), but still valuable. I remember when SOCRATES was established at huge expense several years ago. It was sold to the sector as something to provide incredibly useful information for the public, and government departments. I expected regular updates of who where why when was accessing support from the Ministry's Disability Support Services. Unfortunately, it has all been top secret since.