Disability Sector Must Have Necessary Funding
PSA MEDIA RELEASE
April 28, 2008
For Immediate Use
Government Must Ensure Disability Sector Has the Funding It Needs
The PSA supports the ‘carers’ strategy’ launched today but says the Government must ensure it resources any extra use of residential services for the disabled that flow from the strategy.
The carers’ strategy and a five year action plan, launched by the Government, is aimed at helping the 420,000 carers who provide daily support for family members or friends with ill health or a disability.
“We support the goal of caring for the carers,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff. “They provide fantastic support for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who are ill or disabled.”
“But we’re mindful of the fact that we represent 2400 workers in the disablity sector who are underpaid and over-worked because the sector is under-funded,” says Richard Wagstaff.
These workers run community support homes for the intellectually disabled. We note that the five year action plan seeks to provide more ‘residential respite beds’ for people with long term physical, sensory or intellectual disabilities. The aim is to make it easier for their carers to take a break.
“We support providing more respite breaks for carers as long as the workers who are enabling this to occur are given the resources they need to handle the extra workload,” says Richard Wagstaff.
The average starting pay for staff working at community support homes is just $13.23 an hour or $27,518 a year. Staff turnover in the houses is 30% overall and 50% in the first year of employment because of their low pay and inadequate working conditions.
“The low pay and inadequate working conditions for community support workers are due to a lack of funding,” says Richard Wagstaff.
“We applaud government initiatives to support unpaid carers but say the government must also support the professionals working in the disabillity sector.”
“We need to increase the level of funding for disability support so community support workers have the pay and working conditions they need to provide the care and support that people with intellectual disabilities deserve,” says Richard Wagstaff.