Changes to Funded Family Care are positive but more needed — Disability Rights Commissioner

Changes to Funded Family Care are positive but more needed — Disability Rights Commissioner

July 8, 2019

The Human Rights Commission welcomes changes to Funded Family Care but says more work is needed on improving the needs assessment system and increasing funding across disability support services. 

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero says the changes announced yesterday to the Funded Family Care payment policy and lifting the prohibition on making complaints are positive. 

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the announcement by the Government that will repeal Part 4A of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 and fund changes to Funded Family Care. 

"I think this is a really significant set of decisions. Disabled people and their families and advocates have spent years talking about the need to change Funded Family Care,” says Ms Tesoriero. 

"I think the most important change is the ability for families to be able to take court action and be involved in making complaints about policies and practices that affect them." 

“These changes reflect that the government has been listening to whānau, disabled people’s advocates and the Human Rights Commission’s concerns about this legislation and policy,” Ms Tesoriero says. 

“We are very pleased that the call of the HRC and others to remove discriminatory elements of this legislation has been heard and particularly that Part 4A, which removed the fundamental human right to seek justice/redress in the courts will be repealed.”   

Part 4A is discriminatory legislation that was passed into law in 2013. It was a response to the landmark judgments of the Human Rights Review Tribunal and Court of Appeal that held that the Ministry of Health policy at the time of not paying family caregivers of adult disabled people was discriminatory. 

“We are also pleased that disabled people’s choice over who provides support to people with high or very high support needs is expanded to include parents of disabled children of any age and partners of disabled adults, and that the level of remuneration has increased.”  

“We hope that work to clarify the nature of the employment relationships will positively impact on cases currently before the courts and avoid future litigation.” 

However, Ms Tesoriero says more work still needs to also be done on the onerous process of needs assessment.  

Referring to the findings of a report for the Ministry of Health in 2018, Ms Tesoriero says: “Many people have expressed dissatisfaction with the assessment process such as the cap on 40 hours when care may be needed around the clock.”  

She says there’s a much broader conversation about funded family care that needed in New Zealand to look at the adequacy of the funding across the disability support sector. 

 “As we have consistently said, the key to the effectiveness of these changes will be the full involvement of disabled people and whānau in the subsequent policy development and implementation plans.  We hope this signals a more collaborative approach that avoids the need for future litigation /court action.”