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Posts Tagged ‘disability issues’

Foot in Mouth Award – Nicky Wagner, because disabilities issues are such a drag on a nice day

24 June 2017 3 comments

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Bennett had it (and probably still does)…

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Key had it;

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… still had it;

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Aaron Gilmore had it;

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Steven Joyce has it;

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Alfred Ngaro has it;

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And it seems Minister Nicky Wagner has it;

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Yes, indeed, Ms Wagner, we’re sure you’d rather be out on the harbour rather than having to mess around with boring disability issues. After all, it’s not your responsibility if some people  ‘choose’ to stay indoors rather than go sailing because they happen to have a disability.

Oh, wait, you’re Minister for Disabilities.

Yes, indeed, another National member of Parliament has revealed her innermost thoughts and feelings about us plebes. We are an inconvenience. Especially on a fine, sunny day.

Ms Wagner soon received a barrage of criticism for her 15 June ‘tweet’;

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1h1 hour ago

really? your response to backlash is to double down and refuse to apologise?? I hope you end up on the news for this.

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4h4 hours ago

Replying to

Then resign and give your position to someone with integrity and compassion. Shame on you.

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14h14 hours ago

Replying to

So would everyone with a disability but not everyone gets that choice…

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

I suggest you step down then. Our communities deserve someone who wants to be there and makes a difference.

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3h3 hours ago

Replying to

find a new job as a fisherman if representing our disabled community is too much of a chore

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12h12 hours ago

Replying to

You tweet this? Clearly your judgement is poor. Make the most of your good fortune

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

I hear you- I hate it when our daughters disability gets in the way of our sailing. And biking. And overseas travel. Ugh

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12h12 hours ago

Replying to

Well sorry for taking up your precious time by having a disability. I’d rather not have to think about it either. Ugh.

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2h2 hours ago

Replying to

Oh my gosh. Your my mp. From my area. You told me disability was your most important thing to you. You lied to me.

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9h9 hours ago

Replying to

Resign from your ministerial position. Such a flippant attitude when your meant to be meeting critical stakeholders of your portfolio! Shame

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7h7 hours ago

Replying to

i can tell this tweet isn’t going to age well over the next few months…

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And this (amongst many more) which sums things up in a nutshell;

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10h10 hours ago

Replying to

No worries, sweetie, after September 23 you can spend as much time on the harbour and away from pesky work as you like. 😀

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One hapless National Party supporter tried – without much success – to mitigate matters;

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

Nicky you might pay to reread your tweet slowly & listen to your words.The delivery of this measage is appalling. Goodluck defending it oops

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Followed by,

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Good try – but stop digging, Geoff.

Ms Wagner quickly realised the enormity of her blunder and attempted to make good with two follow-up ‘tweets’, about eleven minutes apart;

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But by then, at least one representative from the msm had noticed the twitterstorm that had blown up around Minister Wagner;

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

We will all stand by and watch for your ‘clarification and apology.’ See Alfred Ngaro for further help.

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8h8 hours ago

Replying to

Ummmm.. awkward. You could always resign if you don’t like your job! I know a bloke who does good harbour tours to the whales and dolphins.

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Garner’s description as “awkward” would be an understatement.

Perhaps, as National Party supporter Geoff Booth said, “We all make mistakes“. But National ministers and mps have a track record of occasionally letting slip what they really think of  us serfs. And it isn’t very flattering.

If this is how Ms Wagner feels about spending time on disability issues, perhaps it explains why we have had three housing ministers – simultaneously – and yet we still have rising homelessness and worsening housing affordability.

Perhaps it explains why we have chronic health underfunding, including  over-stretched mental health services.

Perhaps it explains why we still have high youth unemployment of NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), and allowing 70,000 migrants to come to New Zealand because we are “short of skilled workers”.

Perhaps it explains why – when the economy is supposedly growing – wages have stagnated.

Obviously, National ministers would rather be doing something else.

In one way, former disgraced MP, Aaron Gilmore was the most honest out of the entire National parliamentary caucus; he really did express the innermost feelings of how the Born-To-Rule view us. I suggest Ms Wagner resign from Parliament and Aaron  Gilmore take her place. At least he’s more upfront and we know what we’re getting.

The rest of his National colleagues can also take a long, long cruise out onto the Auckland harbour.

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Bennett ‘would consider another privacy breach’

NZ Herald:  Key – US journalist Greenwald ‘a loser’

NBR:  ‘Dotcom’s little henchman’

Mediaworks:  ‘Do you know who I am?’ – Aaron Gilmore

NZ Herald: Minister to students: ‘Keep your heads down’

NZ Herald:  Associate Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro reprimanded, apologises to PM over Willie Jackson comments

Parliament: Nicky Wagner

Twitter: Nicky Wagner

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – would rather be out on harbour

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – follow up on harbour tweet 1

Twitter: Nicky Wagner – follow up on harbour tweet 2

Previous related blogposts

Foot in mouth award – Former ACT MP exposes flaw in free-market system

Foot in mouth award – another former ACT MP plumbs new depths of dumbness

Foot in mouth award – Bill English, for his recent “Flat Earth” comment in Parliament

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 June 2017.

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Health care workers pay increase – fair-pay or fish-hooks?

28 April 2017 3 comments

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Some Context

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The National Government said that their signature 2010 income tax cut package would be ‘fiscally neutral’ — paid for increased revenues from raising GST. That hasn’t happened. The net cost for tax cuts has been about $2 billion.

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When National claims it must cut spending for vital public services like health and education to control its borrowing, it carries much of the blame.” – former Green Party Co-leader, Dr Russel Norman, 14 May 2012

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The reliance of New Zealand, of all of us, on the emotional umbilical cord between women working as carers and the older people they care for at $13-14 an hour is a form of modern-day slavery.” –  Judy McGregor, Equal opportunities commissioner, 28 May 2012

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It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash.

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We put the money into cancer care and nursing and various other things. On balance, we think we got that about right.” – John Key, former Prime Minister, 28 May 2012

 

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Cabinet today agreed to a $2 billion pay equity package to be delivered over the next five years to 55,000 care and support workers employed across the aged and residential care sector.”- Bill English, current Prime Minister, 18 April 2017

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The Announcement

On 18 April, Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and Finance Minister, Bill English, announced that healthcare workers in the disability, residential care, and home/community support sector had successfully won their pay-equity claim;

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The response from the trade union movement was positive;

Unions representing care and support workers are pleased to be jointly announcing with government a proposed equal pay settlement to 55,000 workers across the aged residential, disability and home support sectors.

The proposed settlement is a huge win and will make a real difference in valuing the work of care and support workers and the people they support, workers in the sector say. It is a significant step in addressing gender inequality in New Zealand.

[…]

E tū Assistant National Secretary, John Ryall says the offer once ratified will mean a “once in a lifetime pay rise which will end poverty wages for this mainly female workforce and set them on the path to a better life. We’re delighted today’s proposed settlement recognises the justice of Kristine’s case and the wonderful work of Kristine and other professional carers.”

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Industrial Services Manager Cee Payne says that “This equal settlement delivers pay rates that truly reflect the skills and importance of the work that care and support workers undertake every day. Decent pay rates and the right to achieve qualifications will grow and retain skilled workers to care for our elderly. This will build public confidence that high quality care will be delivered to our families’ loved ones in our rest homes and hospitals.”

PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk says: “This settlement will make a real difference to our members.  Our members in home support and disability support play a vital role in empowering people to live independent lives in their own communities. This settlement recognises the value of the work they do – and the people they support.”

Unions say the government is to be commended for agreeing to negotiate this settlement offer, rather than waiting for years before the legal process was finally exhausted.

However, there remain unanswered questions to this “deal”.

Questions raised

On 22 April I wrote to Health Minister Coleman;

On 18 April you announced that disability, residential care, and home and community support services will  have their pay increased in a pay-equity settlement costing $2 billion over five years.

In your 18 April press release you stated;

“A care and support worker on the minimum wage with three years’ experience and no qualifications will receive a 27 per cent increase in their hourly wage rate moving from $15.75 to $20 per hour from July 1. That rate would progressively increase to $23 by July 2021 and would rise further if they attain a higher qualification.”

I have some questions regarding this issue, namely;

1. Why was the settlement not back-dated when MPs automatically have their pay-increases backdated? Especially when negotiations with relevant parties was announced nearly two years ago on 20 October 2015 (by yourself) and has been on-going since.

2. Will workers who are deemed to qualify for pay-equity wage increases  be determined solely by their employer?

3. What measures will be put in place to ensure that workers are paid appropriately and pay increases not arbitrarily with-held by employer(s)?

4. You state that the amount of $2 billion will be  “spread over five years” and  increases will be implemented incrementally over an annual basis. If so, how will that incremental amount be determined?

5. If the answer to Q4 is “yes”, will the planned increases be inflation-adjusted, to prevent any increase being watered-down by inflation?

6.Will the settlement amount be increased over time to compensate for annual rises to the Minimum Wage?

7. Will the equal-pay settlement and increase in wages have any impact on future Union-Employer wage negotiations? Or will future negotiations and demands for pay rises be considered a part of the pay-equity settlement?

8. Will NGOs who qualify for the pay equity settlement for their workers have their Budget-allocations cut in other areas?

9. How will pay rises for workers who quality for pay equity settlement impact on contract negotiations with relevant NGOs?

10. You state that “The $2.048 billion settlement over five years will be funded through an increase of $1.856 billion to Vote Health and $192 million to ACC.  ACC levies are set for the coming years, but may possibly increase over the next decade to support this”. If ACC levies rise, will workers who qualify for the settlement be compensated for having to pay an increased ACC levy?

Call me a cynic, but I sense fish-hooks in the detail. When National cut taxes in 2010, they gave with one hand;

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– and took with the other;

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When it comes to fish-hooks, National has prior ‘form’. Even when National announces an ‘increase’ in social spending, it often takes that funding from other areas. Even special-needs children are not exempt from National’s shell-scam, as reported in The Daily Blog  in August last year;

Education Minister, Hekia Parata, revealed that primary and secondary schools’ funding for special needs students would be slashed, and the money re-directed to under-fives. As Radio NZ explained;

The [Cabinet] documents also indicated the government would reduce the amount of special education funding spent in the school sector, and dramatically increase the amount spent on those under the age of five.

“Analysis of the spend by the age range of the recipient indicates that a disproportionate amount of the funds are for school-age children. This is despite clear evidence in some areas that early support can have greater benefits in terms of educational outcomes.”

As implications of Parata’s scheme began to percolate through the education sector, reaction was scathing.

I won’t be celebrating until I read the fine print and get some answers.

Watch out for…

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References

Infonews: Government’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Dominion Post: Resthome spy hails saint-like workers

TVNZ News: Cabinet agrees to $2 billion pay equity package for ‘dedicated’ low-paid care workers

Beehive: $2 billion pay equity settlement for 55,000 health care workers

NZCTU: Historic day as caregivers offered equal pay settlement

Beehive: Government to enter negotiations over pay for care and support workers

NZ Herald: Budget 2010 – Experts praise tax cuts for all

NZ Herald:  GST rise will hurt poor the most

Fairfax media: Young workers out of pocket

Fairfax media: Prescription price rise hits vulnerable

Scoop media: Vulnerable children at risk from Family Court fees increase

Radio NZ: Govt to phase out ‘special needs’

Additional

Radio NZ: Settlement could help rest homes attract workers

Employment New Zealand: Previous minimum wage rates

NZ Herald: MPs’ pay rise officially confirmed

Radio NZ: MPs given 2.5 percent pay rise

Other Blogs

No Right Turn: A victory for women

The Daily Blog: Courts finally give the poorest workers what the Government wouldn’t and the Unions couldn’t

The Standard: Thank you health care workers

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on the aged-care settlement

Previous related blogposts

1 March – No Rest for Striking Workers! (1 March 2012)

No Rest for the Wicked (23 March 2012)

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash” (28 May 2012)

Roads, grandma, and John Key (18 July 2012)

John Key’s track record on raising wages – 4. Rest Home Workers (11 November 2012)

Aged Care: The Price of Compassion (16 November 2012)

That was Then, This is Now #22 – Lowest wages vs Highest wages (31 January 2014)

The consequences of tax-cuts – worker exploitation? (31 October 2015)

Special Education Funding – Robbing Peter, Paul, and Mary to pay Tom, Dick, and Harriet (27 August 2016)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 April 2017.

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Special Education Funding – Robbing Peter, Paul, and Mary to pay Tom, Dick, and Harriet

1 September 2016 3 comments

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mother-and-children

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Beware of so-called “Reforms”

In December last year, National announced plans to  “overhaul its educational support for children with special needs“. Radio NZ reported;

From the middle of next year it said the system would be significantly redesigned to be simpler and provide more support for teachers and parents.

Today it published the results of 150 public meetings held this year to identify ways of improving education for children with special education needs, such as a physical or mental disability.

As a result of those meetings it is planning changes that would include giving families, teachers and specialists a single point of contact for arranging support for children.

Before that happened, the Education Ministry would begin 22 projects aimed at improving special education in groups of schools and early childhood centres around the country.

As with all reforms from National, there would be ‘fish hooks’.  Promises to  “provide more support for teachers and parents” would prove to be a sugar-coated pill at best – or most likely illusory in actuality.

Rumblings in the Education Sector

On 15 April this year, Radio NZ reported further criticisms of under-funding for children with special needs;

Special education desperately needs more funding, which should be included in the government’s overhaul of the sector, parents and educators say.

The Ministry of Education says it is simplifying the $590 million system for helping children with disabilities, but there won’t be any more money to accompany the changes which will be introduced in 2017.

Critics say that is not good enough, because too many children are not getting the help they need.

The Early Childhood sector criticised National for under-funding special needs children;

Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said more support was also desperately needed in the early childhood sector.

“The model isn’t working that’s there at the moment. It needs to be changed and it’s got to be done quickly.

“It’s okay to take your time over doing a review or whatever you want to call it, but at the end of the day we’ve got people falling through the gaps right now, and they shouldn’t have to.”

Parata responded;

But Education Minister Hekia Parata said she was confident there would be tangible benefits from the special education changes, without more money.

“We want to get this right. We have a vision for a system that is inclusive, we’re recognised internationally as being so and we just want to continuously improve.”

Note the caveat from Parata; “without more money“.

Where would increased funding for under-fives with special needs come from if it was achieved “without more money“?

Answer: National resorted to one of it’s old tricks.

Parata’s Proposal

The answer came as a bombshell on 22 August.

Education Minister, Hekia Parata, revealed that primary and secondary schools’ funding for special needs students would be slashed, and the money re-directed to under-fives. As Radio NZ explained;

The [Cabinet] documents also indicated the government would reduce the amount of special education funding spent in the school sector, and dramatically increase the amount spent on those under the age of five.

“Analysis of the spend by the age range of the recipient indicates that a disproportionate amount of the funds are for school-age children. This is despite clear evidence in some areas that early support can have greater benefits in terms of educational outcomes.”

As implications of Parata’s scheme began to percolate through the education sector, reaction was scathing. A day later, the Secondary Principals’ Association responded;

A proposed cut to special education spending in schools would be a disaster, the head of the Secondary Principals’ Association says.

Documents show the government wants to greatly increase its spending on under-5s with special needs, at the expense of spending on school-aged children.

One of the areas it has singled out for urgent review is the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme for children with the most significant special needs, and in particular, the those aged 18 to 21 who use it.

Secondary Principals’ Association president Sandy Pasley said secondary schools would not cope well with a cut.

“We haven’t got enough as it is and to lose some funding from secondary sector would be quite dramatic for schools.

“We understand that it’s good to put it into the early years but not at the expense of students in secondary schools because often the special education needs don’t go away and sometimes they’re exacerbated by adolescence.”

Ms Pasley said the association would try and persuade the government not to go ahead with the proposal, which she said would be a disaster.

Kim Hall from Autism Action told Nine to Noon children under 5-years-old with autism needed more support – but funding for that should not be taken from school-aged children.

Hall made this critical point;

“Some children aren’t diagnosed until they start school or even later, so that means those children already miss out on that vital funding at the start.”

More on that issue in a moment.

Shamefully, the Early Childhood Council seemed willing to be an accomplice to National’s shuffling of scarce funding for vulnerable children. Early Childhood Council CEO, Peter Reynolds, did not hide his enthusiasm;

“On paper it looks good. It’s a shame we’ve got to wait another few months before we start seeing this thing roll out, but we’ll be wanting to work very closely with the ministry to ensure kids who are struggling right now get some sort of relief in the future and their parents get that relief as well.”

Parata justified the money-shuffle, with the usual spin;

“Evidence shows that providing learning support early in a child’s life will have much greater impact. We’re at a proposal stage of the process. Any changes wouldn’t come into effect until March 2017 at the earliest and will be managed incrementally and carefully to ensure ongoing support. What we are looking at, based on a year’s worth of consultation with the sector is, how do we redsign the service going forward, without compromising the service for those currently in it. So there will be a long transition.”

However, it is simply not correct that early detection and support for children – who will only gradually exhibit complex behavioural, intellectual, and other disabilities over time – is possible.

For children on the Autism Spectrum, recognising that a child is presenting may take up to five years, according to the  on-line  Ministry of Health document,  “Does this person have ASD? New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline“;

There are three more common times when individuals are likely to present:

1. between the ages of 1 and 3 years, lack of development in the areas affected by ASD, such as language and play, becomes more obvious
2. between the ages of 5 and 8 years, when increased social and educational demands highlight difficulties
3. in adolescence or adulthood, when social isolation or relationship difficulties result in depression and other comorbid conditions.

The US group, Autism Speaks, points out;

In the United States, the average age of diagnosis with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is around 4 years of age.

All of which is confirmed by the very personal story of “Sally” and her son, “Zack”.

“Zack” – A Personal Story

From a blogpost published on 6 March 2012 (see: Once upon a time there was a solo-mum), on the problem of Minister Paula Bennett cutting the Training Incentive Allowance;

Sally* is 37 and a solo-mother with an 18 year-old (Wayne*) and 11 year (Zack*) old sons.

Sally had Wayne to her first partner, but the relationship did not last because of drug-taking and violent abuse on his part. (Some months after they separated, he committed suicide.) Sally went on to the DPB, raising her newborn son by herself.

Seven years later, Sally met someone else and formed a relationship with him. The relationship went well and she became pregnant (a son, Zack) to her new partner.

As  her pregnancy progressed, Sally’s partner seemed to go off the rails,  and he increasingly  took up  drink and drugs with his boozy mates. As Sally said, he “was more into his mates than his family” and she finally  threw him out.

Sally was adamant she did not want someone like him as a role-model for her sons. She went back on the DPB and began to examine her options in life.

Eventually, Sally  applied for a course at Victoria University for a bachelors degree  in early childhood education. She applied for, and got, the Training Incentive Allowance (TIA).

Zack’s father saw his young son a couple of times during his first year as a newborn and infant, but thereafter showed little interest in maintaining contact. He eventually disappeared from Sally and her children’s life. She was on her own to raise her sons – a role she took seriously, and sought no new relationships with men.

Instead, she applied herself to her university course.

Sally says that the TIA helped her immensely, paying her transport, study-costs, fees, and childcare for her sons. She says,

You could only get the TIA on the DPB, not on the dole, which I thought was unfair.”

After her graduation, Sally followed up with a Masters degree, which took another four years in part-time study. During the final two years of her uni studies, she took up a part-time job. This decreased the amount she received on the DPB, and her part-time job was taxed at the Secondary Tax Rate (her benefit was considered as a “primary job” by the IRD).

Sally took out a student loan for her M.Ed, as WINZ would not pay the Training Incentive Allowance for higher university education.

One could view the “claw back” of her DPB and higher tax-rate on her part-time job as a dis-incentive which penalised Sally, and others in her position, but she persevered. With end-of-year tax refunds, she says it “all squared out” – but she could have done with the extra money through the year.

Sally graduated and got her Masters degree in early childhood education. By this time, Wayne was 14 and Zack, 6. One month later, she found a full time job and replaced the DPB with a good salary. She says that the MA gives her an extra $11,000 per annum.

During her studies and part time job, Sally raised her two sons – one of whom was increasingly “challenging” with Aspergers and ADHD.

(This blogger can confirm that young Zack – whilst a bright, personable child – can also be “a handful”, and was effectively thrown out of his previous school for “disruptive behaviour”.)

Zack’s story was continued in another blogpost on 8 June 2013 (see: When the State fails our children), on the issue of Special Needs Education. I provided more detail on Zack’s circumstances;

Zack is an intelligent, charming, highly curious, young man (12) who requires one-on-one support during his entire school day. Not having that one-on-one support is untenable for both Zack or the school, as he can “flip out” at provocations which other children might not notice.

Zack was expelled from two previous schools for lack of one-on-one support from a teacher-aid.

He was enrolled at his current school with the specific agreement that Zack would be provided full-time, one-on-one support from a dedicated teacher-aid.

It soon become apparent that the Ministery had assigned this teacher-aid (who was doing the best she could under the circumstances) to two children; Zack, and another child at another school.

Not being able to violate given laws of physics by being in two places simultaneously, the school took action to cut down Zack’s hours in class. He was permitted to attend class only when the teacher aid was present (approx 4 hours per day). When she left to attend her second client, Zack’s grandmother collected him. (Zack’s mother, Sally, is a solo-mum who works at an early childhood facility.)

Implementation of promises of full support – the current fashionable term is “intensive wraparound support” – by the Ministry of Education have been erratic and never fully implemented. (At the beginning the Ministry was reluctant to offer any support for Zack. They relented only when schools refused to accept him unless there was  funding for a teacher-aid.)

Zack’s teacher-aid was funded through the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). According to the Education Ministry website, ORS is described as;

“Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding is used to provide specialist services and support for students with the very highest needs for special education.

ORS helps students join in and learn alongside other students at school. Any student who meets the ORS criteria is included in the scheme.”

For Zack, ORS provided;

“teacher aides to support teachers to include students in class programmes and activities”

Without a teacher’s aide present, Zack was easily distracted or could become stressed and angry at the usual background classroom noise, chatter, and other stimuli which other children mostly never notice. The consequence  almost always resulted in an outburst from Zack and disruption of the class.

Without support from a  teacher aide, funded by ORS, Zack’s education would have been limited and no school would have enrolled him. He would have had to be home-schooled by his mother who would have had to quit her job and return to the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Even that form of home-schooling would have had limited success, as Sally found it increasingly difficult to manage her son.

With minimal education and an Aspergers-personality, Zack’s future prospects would have been grim.

Zack’s fascination with fire resulted in coming to the attention of Police (though this aspect of his behaviour has improved considerably in the last few years). The local community police constable played an outstanding and sympathetic role in helping Zack move past this dangerous obsession.

Zack’s Aspergers condition was not identified until later in his childhood, as this interview with Sally revealed;

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Frank: “Kia ora Sally.

You’ve heard of government proposals to shift funding for Special Needs programmes from schools to pre-schools. As someone who works in Early Childhood Education, and with a teenage son with Aspergers, you have a foot in both camps. What are your views on this?”

Sally: “Rather than a ‘shift’ I think there needs to be an increase across the board. There are big gaps in funding meaning many children miss out on funding and thus the extra help that could benefit their education greatly.”

Frank: “At what age was Zack diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum?”

Sally: “He was 4 when we first wondered. By 5 or 6 he was considered to have aspects. I think he was about 8 or 9 when he was officially classified as having Asperger Syndrome.”

Frank: “So funding for pre-school Special Needs children would not have met Zack’s needs?”

Sally: “It wouldn’t have been available because [his] ‘needs’ at that age wouldn’t have met the requirements for funding.”

Frank: “So in effect, that would have left him ‘stranded’, without any government-funded support?”

Sally: “Yes.”

Frank: “Without funding for Zack’s teacher aide, would Zack have been able to cope at school? He was asked to leave one school at least, wasn’t he?”

Sally: “He didn’t and doesn’t cope without extra teacher aide support. The funding for anyone not considered ‘high needs’ is non-existant. He only ever received funding when, because he wasn’t coping, his behaviour was out of control. Then when the extra support helped and his behaviour went down, funding and thus support was taken away and then his behaviour became an issue. ‘Asked to leave’. That’s a nice way to put it. Yes he left two schools because without funding and support they couldn’t deal with him. Although in all fairness I need to point out that the first of those schools didn’t try to work with him in appropriate ways and didn’t have a positive attitude towards children with special needs.”

Frank: “So if Zack was unable to cope at schools, without funding for support through a teacher’s aide, what would have happened to his education opportunities?”

Sally: “Not ‘would have’ but ‘has’. He is years behind academically and is struggling to gain credits for NCEA Level One. This is partly due to the several years at primary school where he didn’t learn a lot due to no funding or support and being in a highly emotional and behavioural state. It is also because of what workload he can cope with though. He will do Level One NCEA over three years so he can cope.”

Frank: “Would you have been able to carry on working in your own career if Zack had been forced through circumstances beyond his control, to stay home and be home-schooled?”

Sally: “No. I would have ended up back on the DPB. Luckily he ended up in a wonderful Intermediate for his last year there and then a great college that, even without extra funding, has an amazing learning support system. He doesn’t have teacher aides though because he gets no funding and that would help immensely, especially with English.”

Frank: “Without funding for a teacher’s aide, what do you believe would have been the outcome for his development?”

Sally: “The only teacher aide funding he ever got was in primary when his behaviour was out of control. If that had not been available he wouldn’t have been able to be supported to cope in class. The outcome of him not getting funding for a teacher aide in terms of his learning for all these years is he has learnt things a lot slower than he could of and he is still struggling to understand a lot of the curriculum.”

Frank: “Without funding for support for other children with Special needs at schools and secondary schools, what do you foresee as the outcome?”

Sally: “Schools being under even more pressure to help children without the funding or resources they need. The already limited resources being stretched to breaking point. An increasing number of children who leave school without the education they deserve or need to be active members of society. An increasing burden on the welfare system to support these adults that weren’t supported as children.

Plus an increased burden on the criminal system because without a good job people are more likely to steal to survive.”

Frank: “What do you say to Education Minister Hekia Parata’s proposals to cut Special Needs funding for schools and shifting the money to pre-schools?”

Sally: “Hekia, heck no! Funding needs to be increased across the board. While it is true that in ECE there needs to be increased funding for children with special needs and that the early years are the most important in terms of development, children still need support throughout their school lives.”

Frank: “Finally, how is Zack these days?”

Sally: “Struggling academically but he is at a very supportive school who are tailoring their approach to his learning to suit him. He no longer has extreme behaviour at school, partly because he is older but also because of the positive school environment he is in.”

Frank: “Thank you, Sally. All the best to you and your sons.”

Sally: “All good.”

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Conclusion

National has come up with many “reforms”, proposals, policies, and ideas that eventually fail, or create unforeseen (or often foreseen; pre-warned; and ignored) problems.

On this occasion, the proposal to increase spending for under-fives children with special needs, at the expense of older children, is short-sighted madness that beggars belief.

There is simply no sensible rationale for this ill-considered, incoherent policy.  If there is scientific backing, Parata is yet to release it to the media and public.

Parata is playing god with the lives of vulnerable children – children who are often unable to cope in a classroom-environment without constant  “wraparound” support.

Taking money from children who can barely cope is simply beyond any measure of comprehension.

Is Parata so badly advised by her officials that she cannot understand the consequences of cutting support for children with special needs?

Is Parata’s Ministry so cash-strapped that she even considers taking funding from those who need it the most?

Children with special needs are highly vulnerable,  facing considerable difficulties, with many lacking simple coping mechanisms. They live stressed, difficult lives that most New Zealanders are unaware of. They have started life several steps behind their peers. They are running, just to barely keep up.

If Parata is willing to undermine what little support these children receive, then she is a damaged person lacking in any measure of human empathy. I hold her in utter contempt.

Parata must resign.

 

 

* Sally and her son’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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References

Radio NZ: Govt promises to overhaul special education

Radio NZ: Children with disabilities missing out as education funding falls short

Radio NZ: Govt to phase out ‘special needs’

Radio NZ: Secondary principals fear special education ‘disaster’

Autism Speaks: Hunting for Autism’s Earliest Clues

Ministry of Education: Overview of Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)

Ministry of Health: Does this person have ASD? New Zealand Autism Spectrum Disorder Guideline

Other Blogs

How Melulater Sees It: Special Education – Let’s Change the Name and Solve Everything!!

How Melulater Sees It: Where are those wrap around services, Hekia?

Public Address: Some aspects of New Zealand’s disability history – part one (Nov, 2014)

Public Address: Some aspects of New Zealand’s disability history – part two (Dec, 2014)

Public Address: Some aspects of New Zealand’s disability history ‒ part three (Feb, 2015)

The Daily Blog: Martyn Bradbury – Removing the word ‘special needs’ so you don’t have to fund ‘special needs’

Previous related blogposts

Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked

When the State fails our children

National’s prioritises Education needs

Once upon a time there was a solo-mum

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1995 Tom Scott Cartoon featuring Minister of Education Lockwood Smith and three children with special needs. Ref: H-242-020 Turnbull Library

1995 Tom Scott Cartoon featuring Minister of Education Lockwood Smith and three children with special needs. Ref: H-242-020 Turnbull Library (Acknowledgement: Public Address Blog)

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 August 2016.

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= fs =

There’s never a towie around when you need one…

10 April 2015 2 comments

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UFO dumped stupid people

 

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On Tuesday (7 April) morning, in Kilbirnie’s Bay Road, we spotted this black ute parked on the road, blocking access to the disability carpark. Note that the ute wasn’t actually parked IN the carpark. He just parked blocking it, and creating a nuisance to those trying to drive past.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (2)

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (3)

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The vehicle belonged to “Total Towing”. I wonder if I could’ve called up the company’s office and asked for their offending vehicle to be… towed?

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (4)

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Note the car behind the ute, in the next image. The poor old bugger was patiently waiting to use the disability carpark. That made him double-park as well.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (5)

 

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Poor guy, I felt sorry for him. So decided to do something about it.

The ute’s engine was still running. That indicated that the driver had “popped out quickly” to do an errand, rather than longer-timed shopping.

Which suggested an errand quickly achieved… like going to the local Post Shop.

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towtruck parked blocking disability carpark - kilbirnie wellington - 7 April 2015 (1)

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Such as the Post Shop only a few metres from the carpark.

I walked inside and immediately saw the long queue waiting to be served. What’s the bet—?

In my best, loudest voice, honed after years of bellowing slogans at protest marches, I loudly asked,

 

“WHO OWNS THE BLACK TOW-UTE PARKED OUTSIDE THE DISABILITY CARPARK? THERE’S A DISABLED DRIVER WAITING TO USE IT!”

 

A guy with “Towtruck” emblazoned on his black t-shirt popped his head out of the queue…

Gotcha.

That would be me,” he said, quickly leaving the queue, “Sorry, thought I could just pop in and out quickly.”

No, mate, you weren’t thinking.

My reply was non-committal. I wasn’t going to sympathise with him one bit.

He quickly climbed into the ute, and drove off. The old guy moved in and parked his car.

Happy ending.

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(Originally posted on Facebook group, You’ve got my Car Park, want my Disability too?, on 9 April 2015)

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= fs =

Full access for everyone!

30 November 2013 1 comment

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Yet again, it takes the public to remind politicians that they are in office for everyone. Please take a couple of minutes of your time to sign this,

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petition

(Click here or on the image)

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It seems outrageous that in the 21st Century we’re still having to prompt the government-of-the-day (almost always National!) to do the right thing!

It seems that our elected representatives seem oblivious to doing the right thing without having to be continually reminded of their responsibilities.

Please take a moment to sign. It’s worth it.

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= fs =

Petition: Support for Mojo Mathers *** Update ***

8 March 2012 6 comments

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Support for Mojo Mathers and the wider Deaf and hearing-impaired

community

Paul Gibson, the Disability Rights Commissioner, has called for the Speaker Lockwood Smith and Parliamentary Services to accommodate Mojo Mathers’ need for live electronic notetaking. Article 21 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which New Zealand has ratified, specifically deal with the right of persons with disabilities to access information intended for the public in a timely manner without additional cost, and the right to serve effectively in public life.

Many other figures and organisations have come out in support of Mojo Mathers.

The Human Rights Commission currently has a discussion paper out for consultation called The Wider Journey, which deals with accessibility issues for disabled people in the physical environment, in accessing information, and in the political process. If you have experience with disability, hearing-related or otherwise, I recommend you make a submission to this report detailing obstacles in the political process.

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Sign Petition Here

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* * *  Update  * * *

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from:    Suzanne Culph, Change.org mail@change.org
to:    fmacskasy@yahoo.com
date:    Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 8:00 PM
subject:Speaker’s answer

Frank, huge news!

Late last night, Speaker Lockwood Smith announced that he will fund the note-taking Mojo Mathers needs to do her job until a permanent solution is found.

What’s more, he’s promised to develop live closed captioning of Parliament — something that would give over 700,000 hearing impaired New Zealanders unprecedented access to their democracy.

It’s been an uphill battle to get this far. From the start, Speaker Smith was reluctant to commit to the funds, and claimed that the decision was out of his hands. But then student Merrin Macleod started a Change.org petition, and 6,200 people — including you! — joined her.

Merrin started her petition after hearing that New Zealand’s first deaf MP was essentially being asked to pay $30,000 to participate in Parliament. She spent hours contacting media, friends and everyone she could think of to spread the word.

Thousands signed, driving media coverage in the New Zealand Herald and across the country. And last week it was tabled in Parliament — in front of MPs, a packed press gallery and Speaker Lockwood Smith himself.

The pressure is working. Yesterday, the Speaker committed to making Parliament “more accessible to the hearing impaired community at large,” and to “make sure Mojo is getting all the support she needs” — including funds for her note-takers.

There’s still a way to go before ongoing funding is guaranteed in a way that is fair for all MPs with a disability — the long term issue is now before the Standing Orders Committee, which is yet to deliver its verdict. But expert legal advice suggests that there is every reason for the committee to grant the funding.

And with thousands of New Zealanders uniting behind Merrin’s petition, and intense media attention on Speaker Lockwood Smith, it will be near-impossible for decision-makers to avoid the issue.

The progress is proof that ordinary people coming together really can make a difference. And by sending a powerful message in support of Mojo Mathers, everyday people are helping pave the way towards equal access in the country’s highest institutions.

Thanks for being part of this,

Suzanne and the Change.org team

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And a really, really B I G thank you to everyone who read this (or heard about the petition from some other source) and put their name to the petition. People-power can work!

– Frank

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