Disabled people and their families have been returned the right to complain to the Human Rights Commission or seek redress through the Courts about discriminatory family funding policies they may face.
Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero said she was very pleased that Part 4A of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000 was repealed last night, prior to the election.
“This piece of legislation was introduced in 2013 under urgency and has been a source of extreme pain for many disabled people and their families,” said Tesoriero.
“The Human Rights Commission and others have long advocated for this change as well as other funded family care changes. Part 4A has been particularly offensive to the rights of disabled people in New Zealand.”
Tesoriero said there were some operational matters to resolve but it was vital that the right to complain be confirmed.
“I was concerned when the repeal looked like it may be delayed till after the election due to COVID19, so I wrote to Associate Minister Salesa and asked for it to be prioritised as promised,” said Tesoriero.
“I’m very pleased that families had the opportunity to present to the select committee in time for the legislation to pass before Parliament rises.”
“This is a great result for disabled people and their families,” said Ms Tesoriero.
Part 4A 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. It introduced the Funded Family Care policy that has since been subject to much criticism, including by the Courts, about its fairness and complexity.
Part 4A discriminated against disabled people and their family caregivers by preventing them from bringing any future challenges to the policy under the Human Rights Act.
Following the passing into law of Part 4A of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, the Commission has advocated for its repeal, including raising the issue repeatedly with United Nations Human Rights Committees. Part 4A was passed urgently by Parliament, bypassing usual Select Committee procedures and denying New Zealanders the right to comment on the proposed law change.
Refusal to pay family members to provide care in circumstances where they would provide payment for non-family members to provide care was found by the Courts to be discriminatory on the basis of family status, a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Act. More information can be found here.
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