People with disabilities

Payments for Providing Care for Disabled Adult Family Members

The Commission has been involved in a number of legal cases related to payments to individuals who provide care to disabled adult family members. Copies of some of these decisions are included below. Over the past few years the New Zealand courts have consistently held that the Ministry of Health’s former “blanket ban” on making payments to family members for providing care discriminates against people on the basis of their family status. Discrimination on the basis of family status is prohibited under the New Zealand Human Rights Act.

In 2013 the Government passed legislation in response to the court decisions. This legislation was passed under urgency without the usual opportunities for public input. The legislation is known as the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Act (No2) 2013. It prohibits payments being made to family members except in accordance with Funded Family Care policies to be developed by the Ministry of Health. The Funded Family Care Policy that has since been developed permits payments to some family members (but not spouses or partners) in some narrow circumstances. The legislation also prevents any future claims being taken to the Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Review Tribunal or the courts alleging that the new policy is discriminatory.

This legislation has been a source of significant concern to the Commission and many other groups. The way in which it was passed into law, and the way in which it prevents access to usual legal remedies for certain types of discrimination is unacceptable.

The Disabled People Assembly has submitted a petition to the Health Select Committee seeking the repeal of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Amendment Act (No2). The Human Rights Commission supports this petition. You can read the Human Rights Commission’s submission to the Select Committee here.

You can read the Disabled Person’s Assembly’s Petition here:

You can find out more about the Ministry of Health’s Funded Family Care policy here.

The Ministry of Social Development’s publication A Guide for Carers provides information on where informal carers can get support and funding. This guide provides information on the type of funding available for informal carers, the services covered and where to obtain funding for disability support services for long term conditions. It also describes the role of the Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) agencies and what should be taken into account when an assessment is carried out.

Ways in which further information or support might be available could be discussed with Carers New Zealand which is a national charitable trust and the secretariat for the New Zealand Carers Alliance. More information on the trust is available here or by calling 0800 777 797.