The disabled voice matters, and doesn’t everyone in the disability sector know it.
Care needs to be taken to ensure that disabled people truly experience the value of what the current movement of greater choice and control represents. Yes, it is about a more flexible funding model that enables tailor based supports based on the individual. Yes, it’s also about allowing the disabled voice to reach a larger, more mainstream audience, that ever before.
But what it is also about is attitude. More thought needs to be put on deciding what attitude that disability sector actually wants to have moving forward.
Attitude! Attitude! Attitude!
Politically correct, or sensitive language and updated policy matters little in comparison to attitude.
A better and stronger disability community in New Zealand cannot be achieved without a significant change in attitude, both from Government and the NGO’s that are funded. Policy will always remain, NGO’s too, but it’s the attitude and desired outcome behind them that really matters.
As has been said time and time again, don’t do things for disabled people, do things with disabled people. Each person is an individual, and that means that their ideals of the best support structure will vary.
2017 has been a whirlwind year for the disability sector, a year of complete uncertainty and a ton of promises from the Government that claims it hears and respects the rights of people with disabilities.
In just three months, a co-design group came up with the roadmap for what the Government promises will be a complete systems transformation. But prior to that, new approaches like Enabling Good Lives used the Individualised Funding (IF) model to begin the journey towards what looked like a brave new world for disabled people and their families.
And, ironically, the term was named as such.
What Does “The Brave New World” Really Mean?
The term “brave new world’ has been thrown around a lot over the past couple of years. But what it really means is a new style, or way, of supporting people with disabilities.
The funding models of the past haven’t provided any choice around how and when people get the supports they need, and until now, funding models could best be described as “one for all”. There was limited choice, and despite the closure of institutions two decades ago, many disabled people still lived in residential services with little opportunities for genuine access to their community.
Time and time again the disability sector has had issues with inadequate funding, and it has struck right across the board. The majority of people barely got enough support to enable them to live any sort of good life, whether in residential living or in their own homes.
Education and employment opportunities have been, and still are, the other two hot issues that challenge the sector.
Get The Disability Sector Out Of Its Own Silo
The disability sector has been guilty of being more reactive than proactive in the past. Whilst that is slowly changing, it’s also been met with some reluctance. But another key issue has been how silo’d the sector has become, and that is one aspect that hasn’t improved since the likes of Enabling Good Lives Access Alliance have come along.
It is crucial that that the sector is careful about how it views itself, and this is where it ties back to attitude. For too long now, all things disability has been kept largely too itself and operated within its own, well setup community. That needs to change.