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Lack Of Political Will To Improve Lives Of Disabled People In New Zealand

Once again, the one in four New Zealanders with a disability are not a priority for this Government, says IHC New Zealand.

This is despite it being over 20 years since the National Health Committee’s report ‘To Have An Ordinary Life’ that asked that Government ensure that intellectually disabled people have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, including in decisions about where and how they live.

That report also called for the Government to urgently address the systemic neglect of the health of intellectually disabled people, something on which there has been no action in the following 20 years.

Last year, IHC conducted its own research that showed intellectually disabled people still die up to 20 years earlier than everyone else.

IHC Director of Advocacy Tania Thomas says the data also showed significant disparities in healthcare, with intellectually disabled people continuing to being treated at much higher rates for most major mental and physical health conditions.

”We also found intellectually disabled people experience significant socioeconomic challenges, including less education, limited employment opportunities and a persistent income gap, especially in older age groups,” says Tania. “Using Government data, we were able to shed light on the living conditions and experiences of intellectually disabled people, revealing issues such as limited internet access, infrequent travel overseas and frequent residential moves.

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“Intellectually disabled children were found to face more housing challenges, higher rates of parental separation, and increased vulnerability to crime and domestic violence.

“The report highlighted the overrepresentation of intellectually disabled people in the justice system, with higher rates of criminal convictions and incarceration compared to the general population.

“The report enhances our understanding of the lives that intellectually disabled people lead and is a valuable resource for policymakers, healthcare professionals, advocates, and researchers striving to promote inclusivity, equity and improved quality of life for intellectually disabled individuals worldwide.

“We are not expecting Whaikaha to update this valuable resource funded by IHC with the 2023 Census data. It is likely to be left to the charitable sector to do the Government’s job, just as it was in 2022 when IHC started this work.

“Despite these woeful statistics, equity and inclusion seem to fall by the wayside with this government’s ‘I’m alright Jack’ attitude and actions. Time and time again the work needed to support the inclusion of disabled people is left to disabled people and their families, whānau, carers, volunteers and charitable organisations. It is time for Government to step up and do its part.”

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