Disability is not a health issue, says the National Leadership group that guides the development of Enabling Good Lives.
Disability is about people who have impairments being excluded from their citizen rights by not being taken into account when buildings are built, when transport systems are designed and when communication systems are put in place.
The Simpson report is a prime example of this happening again. While there are positive features in the report, the key recommendation is for disability support to be subsumed into the DHBs. If this happens it will be lost amongst the health work that the DHBs are meant to do and are structured to do.
The DHBs, much as the Ministry of Health currently does, will inevitably see disability as an illness and not as just part of ordinary life. They will want to fix people rather than to assist them to take control in their own lives and use their funding to be supported in a way that makes sense to them.
People living a good life is what Enabling Good Lives is all about. It has been the direction of travel for disability support for the past decade and has been the aspiration of many for over 40 years. This direction has been universally supported by disabled people, families of disabled people, support providers and funders. The Simpson Report would wash away these past decades of advocacy, trials, development and hope.
Instead, we believe that there needs to be a separate entity that promotes disability issues and support. This idea was signalled as the best way forward by the 2008 Social Services Select Committee into the disability support system. We think it is time to move on and separate disability from health, not confirm its position as the poor, and neglected, relation. It is time disabled people to set their own direction and not have health professionals do it for them. ENDS
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