Make the new disability system work for disabled people and their families

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We urge the Ministry of Health, Disability Support Services, and the Ministry of Social Development, Office of Disability Issues to align the new disability system so that it preserves the social model long fought for and builds the leadership of disabled people themselves into policy and service design.

It is thanks to the courage of disabled people and their families through sustained advocacy from the 1970s through to the 1990s that the social model of disability is now the accepted norm. Gone are the institutions that hid us from view. Gone is the tendency to treat us as sick and apply the medical model to our daily living. Today, we are no longer primarily defined by our disability, instead, we are seen as people with aspirations like any other New Zealander.

The last twenty years have seen a lot of change, much of it for the best, some of it still wanting. But if we truly want to lead good lives, we need to grasp the opportunity presented to us by the impending set up of the new health and disability system following the government's review.

Despite best intentions and our input, the system perpetuates the same flaws that restrict our achieving the better lives we all envisaged. As a community, our main contention is the continued separation of strategy and policy (Ministry of Social Development) from funding and service delivery (Ministry of Health). Why is it about us, but structured so that we don’t get a greater say in influencing the design and delivery of our supports? The proposed transition of service delivery to the District Health Boards is also a reversal, a move that will pitch us backward into the medical model and have us competing with the extra demands on that sector in a post-COVID-19 world.  

We propose that as has occurred with the health system, the government considers the alignment of strategy, policy, service delivery, and funding in a new Ministry for Disabled People that incorporates the leadership of disabled people themselves. We feel this approach will not only lead to better lives for disabled people but will drive efficiencies inevitable when outcomes are more focussed.

This petition is initiated by the Pacific Disability arm of the disabled community, in recognition of the potential our independence gives us to advocate for our communities’ prevailing hopes and concerns.  We ask you to join us as supporters to advance our petition.

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