by Catherine Delahunty
On Monday this week I hosted a second forum on the fraught issue of payment for family carers in Auckland.
The first forum at Parliament had a focus on the constitutional discrimination in the Health and Disability Amendment Act that was forced through the Budget Urgency in late May.
This week’s forum heard from disabilities legal advocate Russell Vickery, disability activist and advocate Phillip Patson and lawyer for the plaintiff in the decade long court case, Frances Joychild. I also read a statement from Carers New Zealand who were unable to attend.
The event was attended by a number of affected families who have a range of ongoing concerns about the law and about the new funding package announced last week. Everyone wants the law repealed and the Green Party is committed to this at the first opportunity.
However, there is also a determination to try and make the limited funding that is available work for people and to keep pushing for fair wages, realistic working hours and models that do not create more stress. The law only permits the people with the highest needs to get 40 hours per week of family care payment which is completely unrealistic. Some people strongly oppose the new model which makes the disabled person the employer of their family member. Others argue that with support some people want to try this option. Clearly this model will not work for everyone and its disappointing that a more flexible proposition such as the options used in ACC cases cannot be implemented.
Everyone at the meeting supported more flexibility and dialogue with Government to improve the funding model but in some of our views we need more activist pressure to create leverage for change. That is why we are promoting the Disabled Persons Assembly petition to repeal a law that not only limits who can be paid for family care but removes the rights of affected families to complain go the courts – please ask your family and friends to support this petition.