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Access: The Problem with the Greens’ Disability Policy – A Description

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  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    Funding for personal disability support services was shifted from social welfare to health portfolios to help Ruth Richardson make certain political claims at the time.

    This may well be....but....under Social Welfare, until about 1986(can't put my hand on the doc immediately) there was no funding available for those with significant impairments and high care needs if they were in paid employment.

    Peter, having returned to his full time mainstream job within a year of breaking his miserable neck, found himself seriously up shit creek when he finally saved enough to put a downpayment on his own home. Hitherto, living in CCS homes, his care needs had been met by the staff, and his collegues supported him at work. In his own home, he needed to get in 'boarders' to to do the necessary...and off course it went fairly rapidly to crap.

    The local DHB said..."He's not our problem, he's not sick", and Social Welfare said " He's not our problem, he's in fultime work."

    Having funding for these necessary supports coming out of the Health Budget places, in most circumstances, for now anyway, those who need care beyond the reach of means and asset testing.

    Under Annette King's Public Health and Disability Act....Peter, it seems, actually had an entitlement to funding for his care after he had met the eligiability and assessment criteria. The dreaded 2013 amendment withdraws that entitlement to those with high care needs living with family.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Mojo Mathers,

    Hi Jonathan

    Thank you for your feedback on our disability election policy we released last week. I really appreciate that you have obviously considered it in detail. I hope it will help if I clarify afew things. Firstly, the election disability priorities (employment, captioning, housing and independent travel ) that we announced in that package are designed to sit in the context our wider disability policy, which can be found here:

    Secondly - with regards to your specific concerns around the focus on captioning - I fully agree that current levels of audio-description are woefully inadequate . I would like to assure you that we are fully committed to accessible TV which includes both captioning and audio-desciption and NZSL.

    Our view is that the current model of publicly funding captioning and audio-desciption via NZ on air funding is that it is not going to get us to the levels of captioning or audio-description that we need to have. It also means that even the existing levels of captioning and audio-description are vulnerable to cuts in government funding .

    This is why we are committed to shifting the responsibility for ensuring accessible TV from government to broadcasters as is done overseas. To make this happen we are going to legistlate to set mandatory targets for broadcasters to meet. These targets will be set not just for captioning but also for audio-description and NZSL content.

    Targets will be set for all of these services for all channels on a case by case paper. The policy paper does have an explicit target for captioning for our largest boardcasters because there is good precedent overseas for this and is clearly achievable. However the same legistlation to make that happen will also set targets for audio-description and NZSL to ensure improved access for everyone to TV including those who are blind or vision impaired.

    So in summary , we are committed to improving both captioning and audio description , we will require broadcasters to provide this and will work with stakeholders to set targets and timeframes to make this happen.

    Finally I note that there has been some discussion in the comments around the process of consultation for developing policy. Since my election in 2011 I have been very aware of the importance of working with a range of disabiltiy groups. I have endevoured to meet with as many organisations and individuals as possible. In particular I have worked with representatives from the Blind community on a range of issues from accessible voting through to accessible buildings and independent transport. I know I will have missed out some sectors of the disabilty community in which is incredibly diverse and dont always agree about priorities but I assure readers here that I try and do the best I can with the resouces I have. Anyone who wishes to raise a particular disabilty issue with me is welcome to email me at

    Since Aug 2014 • 2 posts Report

  • Mojo Mathers,

    Readers may also find this blog on FAQ on captioning helpful

    Since Aug 2014 • 2 posts Report

  • Jonathan Mosen, in reply to Mojo Mathers,

    Hi Mojo, thanks for taking the time to reply during what I'm sure is a busy election campaign. I appreciate that.
    Your use of "captioning" and "audio description" in the same sentence several times in your reply is exactly the kind of inclusive language I would like to have seen in the summary and releases last week, for the reasons I set out in my original post. This kind of language certainly made me feel more included and that my needs are of equal importance than did what I read last week.
    Just as targets for captioning have been set overseas, so have targets for audio description. The UK is the leader in this market, with their Office of Communications mandating a minimum of 10% of content be audio described by free-to-air and subscription networks. In many cases, the quota is being exceeded voluntarily, with some networks now reaching 20%.
    That figure is pretty impressive, given that I think most blind people would agree that news programming doesn't require audio description. So precedent exists for quotas and I would like to have seen hard numbers given for both of these important services, captioning and description.
    Nevertheless, I acknowledge that the fact we can have a discussion about targets rather than about whether the service is necessary at all is progress.
    I would also reiterate the brief comment I made in my original post. The Green Party policy documents are not well structured for screen reader access. Whoever is writing them up for publication is not using styles, such as designating each section of a policy as a heading, and using lower heading levels for subsections. This makes it impossible for a screen reader user to navigate section by section. It's certainly possible to read from beginning to end and to search for key words, but not to quickly skim the text as a sighted reader would.
    Overall though, congratulations for the positive, inclusive, forward-looking policy that has been put together.
    Keep up the great work and thanks again.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2014 • 10 posts Report

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Jonathan Mosen,

    Very good point about using styles. I've passed it on to our policy committee.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Makes the structure of all documents machine-readable and therefore more translatable into other forms like large print and audio and braille. Probably the most widely-useful improvement, and really simple to do.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Marc C,

    Hallo Mojo –

    Thanks for your comments and your links that you provide to further information on the Green Party's disability policy. I had a read through it, and while it appears positive and good in general wording, I am a bit disappointed. There are many forms of disability, both physical, mental and psychological, and the persons affected may be impaired at varying degrees.

    I am glad you and the Greens support the social model to support disabled and improve their rights and situation in society, also assisting them to participate in meaningful, fairly paid work, where possible and wanted. Much can be done, and I am sure is planned to be done.

    But I share the concerns of others, that a wider approach may be needed, and that more steps should be taken for various groups and individuals that need special help to participate.

    We have this government talk a lot about wanting to "help" people out of welfare dependency, and to offer support to those with some forms of disability to get into employment. What I have read and heard though is, that most of the extra funds has gone into more "intensive" case management, and it is unclear whether and how much they actually invest in enabling impaired persons to get where they want to be, to share benefits and responsibilities in day to day life with others.

    My concern is that they are not honest (the present government), and that their messages and claims ring hollow, and that they primarily want to try to get more people off benefits, no matter what. The way the government has treated carers for disabled is also appalling.

    I read with interest your party wants a welfare system with a Universal Basic Income (or so), and with additional supports for certain groups of persons, also disabled. This sounds good to me, as long as it will meet true needs. I am concerned though at the lack of policy from Labour, your party's natural ally in an alternative government, and that they are not planning to increase benefits, which have not been increased for ages. Only the base benefit is inflation adjusted, and the supplements for disability, accommodation and even temporary additional support have been capped and left unchanged for years.

    What is the policy of the greens in more detail, as I really want to see your party to put the pressure on Labour to offer sick, injured and disabled on benefits not just a "fairer treatment" by WINZ, I want to see real improvements, also material and financial.

    Re WINZ the following is a real concern to me, and I want to see that the Greens and Labour make a firm commitment, to move away from this government's approach, to use "advice" by such controversial UK "experts" like Mansel Aylward, who talks about "illness belief" and "malingering", especially when meaning mentally ill or those suffering musculo skeletal conditions:

    Also there was another interesting blog post under 'Speaker' here not long ago, raising serious questions about the government's evaluation of the rather draconina welfare reforms brought in last year:

    We get stonewalled, kind of, and it is not good. I really hope we will have a change of government, and expect the Greens to play a major role in it, as we get too little focus on real help and empowerment of the weakest in society from most other parties.

    Rgds Marc

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Marc C,

    Marc raise some very valid issues, perhaps you should take Mojo up on her suggestion and flick her an email?

    On the PHDAct/Family carers issue I have so far emailed the Greens twice, and sent a quite emphatic 'please explain'to Mojo the other day.

    I have not received any reply as yet, and I am not holding my breath.

    The way I see it, the Greens ( as indeed do other parties) are taking their policy cue from the DPOs listed as the goto folk on disability issues in the (latest) Disability Action Plan.

    As another commentor is focussing on the more able disabled.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    focussing on the more able disabled

    We could easily do a post on that as a long-standing tension in disability politics. Who gets to speak for disabled people?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    Who gets to speak for disabled people?

    By 'disabled'...are you meaning those with high/very high care needs, those with significant physical impairments for whom top quality hands- on care is essential in order to stay alive?

    I have been waiting for those people to come forward, speak out, hit the keyboard.

    In my partner's case, he was too busy working to become involved in DPA NZ when it began all those years ago. He did front up to the first few meetings, but found his (quiet) voice was drowned out by those louder. Since he has not been in paid work, and now having more time on his hands to participate, he has found that again his voice and his experience has no value....especially in the Spinal Injured community where the vast majority are ACC funded....and they have a sense of entitlement and self worth that is foreign to Peter...and those few surviving pre ACC tetraplegics. The ACC spinal community largely shun those who have survived decades with spinal impairments without the support that ACC provides....the non ACC bunch make them look bad. Politics, politics.

    In recent times, there was an attempt to get representation on the MOH;DSS Consumer Consortium for those with spinal impairments, including those with spina bifida, but they were told that existing Consortium members would not be happy if there were any more wheelchairs at the the blind were finding it diffcult enough to move around as it is. Go Figure.

    Bring on such a post Sacha....please.

    A postscript: Peter should really be participating in on line discussions. Trouble is he finds it infuriatingly difficult to use a computer with minimal hand function, lots of spasm when performing fine motor tasks. We did buy Dragon Naturally Speaking....but oh, dear, it is proving quite difficult to negotiate. What Peter needs is some sort of tutoring......

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    I mean all disabled people, not any particular group of us.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Ezekiel Robson, in reply to Sacha,

    It seems appropriate to cross-link to my comment on this very dilemma as it emerged in discussions, following my earlier post. We all bear a responsibility to approach each other with generosity and open mindedness, to reflect and amplify collective views. We all win, or none of us win.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Jul 2014 • 5 posts Report

  • Angela Hart,

    It is extremely difficult for at least one section of the disabled community to be heard. That's the section that Rosemary and I are tightly connected to, the very high and complex needs. It is just frustrating Ezekiel, because this group is NOT heard and its needs are NOT considered.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Angela Hart,

    You may be over-rating how much any other groups are listened to.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Sacha,

    Wry smile. Good point but at least most other groups have representation.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Angela Hart,

    you have connected with Jan Moss, right?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    Ditto to the wry smile.

    The Complex Carers Group is predominantly involved with children with very high and complex needs. Jan Moss has worked long and hard to gain real traction with MOH, with no small success. To her eternal credit she fronted up to the High Court in Auckland in 2010 to support the palintiffs in the Atkinson case on the same day that the media reported that Carers NZ were in favour of an allowance for family carers of those with high and very high needs, rather than a wage.

    But...Peter and my situation does not fit her situation.
    We do not fit into either of the organisations representing those with spinal impairment, as both were set up on the back of ACC.

    I get what Ezekiel is saying about amplifying collective views, but the system is set up to divide us all into wee groups, setting one in competition with the other....competing for limited resources. is a sad fact that those with high, very high and complex care needs are at the bottom of the disability heap.

    Not quite the bottom, those of us who are the chosen family carers of those in this group are regarded as the sludge.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Sacha,

    yup, I've connected with Jan.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    There's little value in competing to see who is worse off, but I suspect people with impaired learning and thinking might have comparable levels of need for daily support.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    but the system is set up to divide us all into wee groups, setting one in competition with the other....competing for limited resources

    it is. are we going to let it win?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    are we going to let it win?

    If I said..."methinks the system has won.... small, individual, isolated voices may as well fart in a strong wind for all the impact we have"....I'd be accused of defeatism.

    Which would be, at times, true.

    However, I'm too committed to give up....because before this generation...there were previous ones that fought the same battles and dreamed of a time when there was no need to fight for every last bit of grudgingly given support.

    When disabled people are treated as citizens.

    A usually up-beat and positive person with a disability who works in the sector said to me yesterday at a 'meet the candidates session'...."disabled people are simply not valued."

    She went on to later try to explain to the politicians just how hard it is to negotiate the bureaucratic and proceedural obstacles on the way to better provision for disabled in the public transport area. This bureacracy applies to everything for all of us...but for those already on the back foot....

    Peter will say, when an issue arises, "just sort it." Because more often than not a fair and reasonable solution to most of the disabled community's problems CAN be sorted. Quickly and expeditiously with little paperwork. Because that is(or was) the Kiwi way.

    I don't know what to do.

    I despair at the lack of knowledge and information sharing.
    I despair that certain government funded organisations do not have a mandate from the wider community.....and they kowtow to their paymasters and dismiss the opinions and experiences of others.

    There is at least one upside to Peter and my situation. Because Peter receives no funding whatsoever for his care, and we have been taught by our NASC that even our allocation of Carer Support can be withdrawn at any time without notice, we have nothing to lose from challenging the staus quo. I would like a dollar for everyone who has sidled up to us after a gathering and said , "good onya for speaking up, for challenging them...I daren't in case they cut my hours...".

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Marc C, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Rosemary - I can assure you that the type of information that I have provided in my earlier comments here, by way of some links, leading to certain information sources, to Jan Logie, Mojo Mathers, Metiria Turei and also Kevin Hague. They are ALL informed about the issues I raised!

    The same have been Sue Moroney, Louisa Wall, Jacinda Ardern, and even Grant Robertson and also David Cunliffe (the last two via their secretaries) from Labour.

    And I am like you and a fair few others, highly frustrated, disappointed and suspicious about their true policy intentions. NONE of them have made clear commitments that I have asked for above, or at least sought clarifications on. So what can we do. I am tired of sending emails to MPs and candidates of parties, who are all primarily only focused on winning votes, and that primarily from the large "middle ground", which though has sadly other priorities than sick, injured and disabled with their serious challenges have.

    Hence I am resigned to the fact that no matter who will win the election, and who will form the next government, the fight will need to go on, without any pause, as at best only moderate improvements can be expected.

    As for the election itself, I am forced to cast my vote to the lesser evil, as I stated before in another thread, but I rather do that, than not vote at all, as that may lead to worse an outcome.

    I am sure Mojo has been back here to check on responses to her comments, her hands are bound, by the party line, which is not determined by her alone.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Marc C,

    So what can we do. I am tired of sending emails to MPs and candidates of parties, who are all primarily only focused on winning votes, and that primarily from the large “middle ground”, which though has sadly other priorities than sick, injured and disabled with their serious challenges have.


    Well, as a bit of entertainment for the yoof of the family I (as the die hard non voter in the family) did the TV One Vote Compass questionaire.

    Other than placing Hone Harawira above all other leaders on the preferred PM scale, I merely rocketed through all the questions clicking on my first instinctive response.

    I'm a Mana Party supporter, it would seem.

    On that note, I'll go back to re-reading The Hollow Men.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    me too, Mana I mean, but I can't vote for them. It seems if you care about social issues you'll come up as either Mana or Green.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Marc C,

    NONE of them have made clear commitments that I have asked for

    Just because a party does not write something in detail into its policy platform before an election doesn't mean they won't do something about it once elected. Getting back in touch once they're in office is a good idea.

    Disabled people and our supporters need to be able to deliver a smart coherent campaign before we can leverage public support like some other movements do before elections. Sadly we do not seem ready for that option yet, despite our numbers.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

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