Waitaha Regional Leadership Group letter to Minister Penny Simmons the Minister of disability Posted by Posted by Michelle Abbas on 4 June 2024 Posted on: 4 June 2024

Posted by Michelle Abbas

Posted on: 4 June 2024

Author: WRLG

Tēnā koutou,


We write to you today to express our profound disappointment and concern regarding the recent changes to the purchasing rules announced via social media on 18 March 2024.


Our previous engagement with Whaikaha, including the meeting with Paula Tesoriero on 13 November 2023, left us with a sense of optimism and a belief in the possibility of a genuine partnership towards positive change for disabled people and their families. However, the recent developments have shattered this optimism and reinforced our concerns about the future.


The changes implemented by Whaikaha not only signify a step backward from the already slow progress towards a truly transformed disability system but also represent an abandonment of the fundamental principles of Enabling Good Lives. Whaikaha’s understanding of disability and its commitment to enabling disabled individuals and their families to lead good lives appears to be even more lacking than we had previously imagined.


We are concerned not only about the changes made on 18 March 2024 but also about how these changes were communicated, the contradictions and lack of clarity in the information provided, and the sheer volume of muddled details that people are now required to sift through to find answers. Alongside these is the concern about the need for meaningful consultation with informed community leaders. It is disheartening to see that disabled people and their families are being treated as passive recipients rather than partners in decision-making processes.


Sadly, we are also left questioning the intent behind these changes. It is difficult to tell whether this has been executed in ignorance and genuine naivety or if it is a deliberate attempt to sow confusion and undermine the progress towards genuine inclusion and autonomy for disabled individuals.


Furthermore, we are deeply troubled by the lack of trust shown towards disabled people in managing the funding allocated to them. The insistence on maintaining control over resources instead of enabling individuals to make choices that best suit their needs and ‘good life’ goals opposes the principle of self-determination and is most certainly not mana-enhancing.


As a leadership group committed to bringing about societal change through the Whanau Ora framework and EGL approach and principles, we are not interested in simply begging for a return to what we had before 18 March 2024 - it was never fit for purpose and continued to fail so many.


However, returning to the purchasing rules that were in place before 18 March 2024 would be appropriate temporarily while working towards something better.


This means working in genuine partnership with disabled people and whānau to transform the system in alignment with the Enabling Good Lives principles the government has committed to.


We urge you to uphold the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by prioritising the voices and agency of disabled individuals and whānau.


In closing, we reiterate our profound disappointment with the recent actions and reaffirm our goal of seeing disabled people and their whānau leading valued lives of their choice within their community.


Ngā mihi nui,

EGL Waitaha Regional Leadership Group (WRLG)

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