Press Release – CCS Disability Action
New Zealanders with significant disabilities are falling through the cracks and in too many cases are being treated as second class citizens, according to ground-breaking new research.Groundbreaking Research Reveals Disturbing Results for Disabled People
New Zealanders with significant disabilities are falling through the cracks and in too many cases are being treated as second class citizens, according to ground-breaking new research.
The study into the experiences of 12 people with high and complex support needs was designed to assess whether New Zealand is meeting an important Article within the United Nations Convention on the rights of the disabled, known as Article 19.
The findings show that many of those with complex support needs are “invisible” and New Zealand may be in breach of the UN Convention.
The results also challenge the current policies and practice and approach to disability funding, which are seen as inflexible, unhelpful and unsuitable.
CCS Disability Action commissioned researchers from the Donald Beasley Institute to work alongside 12 people with high and complex support needs to tell their stories.
The organisation, which provides support services to disabled people, is now calling for a comprehensive review of the way the Government funds services for disabled people.
David Matthews, Chief Executive of CCS Disability Action, said many people with significant disabilities who took part in the research reported they were at times socially excluded, isolated or segregated from their community, frustrated and faced a lack of choice in home and daily activities.
“To understand if New Zealand is meeting its human rights obligations to disabled people, we needed to give a voice to the experiences of the people who are most at risk.
“What they are telling us is that as a country, we have made them invisible. Yet their stories also highlight that solutions to these problems lie not in more funding, but smarter ways of using it, combined with a shift in social attitudes.”
He added: “Despite three decades of social policy aimed at reducing barriers to inclusion, the experiences of the 12 research participants indicates that New Zealand has failed to ensure they can lead normal lives.
“Our findings question not just the way that funding and services are provided but also highlight the many barriers to full social participation that exist in society today,” said Mr Matthews.
“It is clear that we are failing this group of people, failing to meet our obligations under Article 19 of the UN Convention and simply need to do better.”
The researchers interviewed seven male and five female people with high and complex support needs.
For six of the research participants, a family member was directly involved either coordinating and/or continuing to provide direct support, most often in the family home that participants had grown up in.
Half of the adults interviewed remained in their family home because of fears their quality of life would be undermined in residential service settings.
The research participants were also not involved employment, continuing education, sporting, recreational, creative, cultural and political communities.
They also lived alone and spent on average 90% of the week at home with any involvement in the community typically restricted to public spaces or segregated activity.
“The way we provide support services to those with disabilities shows some people still believe people with high and complex support needs cannot have a home of their own,” said Mr Matthews.
“The community group home is still considered in some sectors, the only living arrangement that can meet their physical or behavioural support needs – a view which this research challenges. In the wake of this study, we’re calling on the Government to take urgent action.”