Meeting with Parliament’s Health Committee about repeal of the Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013.

DPA recently had a hearing before Parliament’s Health Committee about their petition to repeal the Health and Disability Amendment Act 2013.

The Act stipulates low pay for family carers, unfair exceptions of particular family members and no right of appeal to the Human Rights Commission or any other Court or Tribunal in New Zealand on family carer policy.

DPA’s presented arguments for reviewing this legislation, including calling for appropriate democratic processes to enable the voice of disabled people and their family members to be heard and considered. As this Act was passed in Parliament under urgency this didn’t happen. A key argument for us was evidence of the low uptake of the policy in the first year meaning that extending the policy further would most likely not result in any additional costs for Government.

The Committee members were empathetic and asked questions around ways to provide greater choice for disabled people and their families. They asked how to ensure the voice of disabled people and their families around this policy was heard going forward.

When asked about the impact of the Act removing the right to complain about this policy DPA spoke of our right to be equal citizens of New Zealand. The question of families ‘duty of care’ came up and we responded by emphasising disabled people’s right to choice and control over their lives, and choices for families.

DPA were joined by Gill Bransgrove, one of the complainants in the original court case around payment to family carers, and staff from the Disability Support Network, an association of disability support service providers.. Gill was invited by the Committee to speak briefly and he gave a strong statement from the perspective of family members who have no choices in supporting their adult disabled family members.

DPA hope that the Committee will act on our recommendation to do a review or inquiry into this legislation, so they can hear from more disabled people and their family members on this issue.