A Waipā-based charitable trust that works alongside disabled people so they can develop their skills and abilities has welcomed sweeping changes in the disability sector.
The government last week announced it would move disability funding from the Ministries of Health and Social Development into a new Ministry for Disabled People.
Enrich Group chief executive Karen Scott said the changes would finally give disabled people, nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s population, hope they would be treated more equitably.
“What I welcome is confirmation that all disabled people, and their whānau, have greater choice and control over their supports and lives.”
The Enabling Good Lives approach to disability services, which has been trialled in Christchurch and Waikato and rolled out in Palmerston North, will now be implemented nationally.
“We know Enabling Good Lives works and produces better outcomes for disabled people,” said Scott.
Enrich Group, formerly Gracelands Group of Services, has two fully-owned entities – Enrich+ and McKenzie Centre – and is in a 50-50 partnership with Active+ Waikato.
The organisations provide common and complementary services that support people with disabilities and those living with autism and neurodiversities.
Head office is in Te Awamutu with services delivered throughout Waikato, King Country and Bay of Plenty.
“We’ve taken a holistic approach to working alongside people with disabilities since our establishment in 1990,” said Scott, who is also deputy chair of the New Zealand Disability Support Network.
The network, which represents many of New Zealand’s not-for-profit organisations that provide support services to disabled people, was involved in talks with Disability Issues Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Health Minister Andrew Little during the system transformation work.
“Disabled people need support to live good lives and healthcare is just one part of that which is why treating disability as a health problem has not worked for years,” said Scott.
“Both ministers recognised that and like us wanted to achieve better outcomes for disabled people.”
The new Disability Ministry will come into existence from 1 July next year.
A transition team would work within the Ministry of Social Development to support the Disability Ministry’s establishment.
Scott said it was crucial disabled people were part of that Transition Team.
One in four New Zealanders self-identify as having a disability based on data from the 2013 Disability Survey. Disabled people face significant barriers to experiencing positive wellbeing –including disproportionate representation in poverty statistics and experiences of inaccessibility and discrimination. Māori and Pacific people are more likely to be disabled than other population groups.
Enrich+ delivers a range of services from navigating social situations, building meaningful relationships, transitioning from schools, life skills, community activities, gaining employment and further support to foster overall wellbeing.
Its autism and specialist services such as psychology, behaviour support and counselling, do not receive any government funding directly, and rely on a combination of fee for service and philanthropic support.
McKenzie Centre provides early childhood intervention and support for children aged from birth to school age who have a developmental delay or disability, and their whanau.
Active+ Waikato offers comprehensive rehabilitation services.