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Don’t slow down disability system gains, says Life Unlimited

17 August 2020 – The significant work underway to transform New Zealand’s disability support system giving disabled people and their families greater choice and control over their lives should not stall because of the recently released Health and Disability Review.

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Life Unlimited Charitable Trust, which nationally provides health and disability information, advice and equipment, supports a major review of the health and disability system but not at the expense of the learning achieved under Enabling Good Lives (EGL) and system transformation.

Life Unlimited chief executive Megan Thomas says EGL and system transformation is working towards embedded disability supports in New Zealand communities and will allow disabled people and their whānau greater choice and control over their own disability supports.

“We see people whose lives have changed for the better as a result of what’s happening in the sector and the last thing we need is for that impetus to stop because of the review,” she said.

“Disability supports must be embedded in communities to effectively offer choice and connection within an individual’s community.”

Services and resourcing for disability support services must be ring-fenced to ensure equitable outcomes, said Ms Thomas.

“We need to focus on wellbeing and let disability have a voice.

“Life Unlimited is a community organisation specifically focussed on enabling independence and good lives for people with disabilities; we will advocate strongly on behalf of the disabled who have been poorly served by the existing health and disability system,” said Ms Thomas.

Key Messages

  • Life Unlimited’s strength for more than 40 years is in offering health and disability information, advice and equipment to enable people to live the life they choose.
  • We work both nationally and regionally.
  • We support a major review of the health & disability system.
  • Changing the focus to wellbeing of consumers, whānau and communities is a positive move.
  • Disability supports must be embedded in communities to effectively offer choice and connection within an individual’s community.
  • It is important this review does not slow down the changes already underway in the disability system.
  • We should put improvements in place now based on what has been learnt from systems transformation, these can then be lifted and placed into tier 1 later.
  • Tier 1 services and resourcing must be ring-fenced to ensure the right focus is placed at a community level.
  • Effective and responsive disability information and connection is essential. There is a requirement for universal quality information that is consistent across the country, along with personalised tailored information that is unique to the local community and individual needs.
  • We support needs assessment processes to be responsive and fair. Our experience tells us we can make this happen within the current system.
  • Not all commissioning will be successful at a regional level as the system requires some nationally consistent, quality information that is best sourced nationally.
  • Disabled and autistic people need to be involved throughout the system.

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