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Disability Advocates Need Not Rely On New Government

As many in the disability community celebrate the biggest change in politics since 2008, disability advocates and service providers alike cannot afford to put all their eggs into one basket… again.

Waiting and relying on the new Labour/NZ First/Greens government to make drastic changes to the disability space (particularly how it’s funded) is the worst thing Service Providers and advocates could do at this point.

When you break it down a little further; there are two sides to this conversation, and there is a certain amount of merit to having every faith in the new government. But, that comes with a potential cost.

Disability needs to be on the political agenda in a much bigger way than ever before. You could argue that with the System Transformation project, the Government is investing more attention and planning into the disability space than a lot would give it credit for. But outside of that System Transformation; not a lot has been happening on the political front as it pertains to disability.

Implementing System Transformation isn’t going to change the status quo either… at least not for those ineligible for DSS supports. That is the cost… putting all the eggs into one basket and having trust that it will benefit the majority of New Zealand’s disabled population (24% and growing). Add into that the growing rates of Maori with disabilities – constantly ranking higher than any other ethnicity in New Zealand.

This cannot be an area of solving that encompasses just one big egg basket. It’s going to take multiple egg baskets.

Investing In Advocacy That Actually Has Meaning & Context

I really feel that there is incredible potential in the advocacy space, but it needs to be done by people with disabilities, and not the establishment that represents them. We’ve been doing that for a long time now, yes it’s been people with disabilities speaking, but usually it’s under the umbrella of an organisation or a certain cause for a pre set agenda.

The narrative on what disability actually means needs to shift to one that tells the actual stories of peoples’ individual situations and stories. Those situations and stories often encompass issues caused by the real barriers in a society that largely still perceives disability to be abnormal, off-putting, and a situation that comes with a cost.

Don’t believe me on the “coming with a cost” statement? Just look at the education and employment space. That’s the ideology that exists.

Disability Advocates Need To Look At Themselves Before New Government

Phrases like “nothing about us without us” and “greater choice and control” is another area where more focus needs to be directed.

Both are very true, and both form a strong basis for what future models (some even currently) are and should be. But what exactly is the power behind these conversations and subsequent decisions? Again it varies, but when we are talking about funding models and support structures, the disabled person must be the one calling the shots on that front. If not, “greater choice and control” is under threat to become just another buzzword.

It sounds a little outlandish – but is the budget really a concern to people requiring support? Perhaps that is a question to be answered in another blog.

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