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Disability Services Priority signalled

3 November 2008 Media Statement

Disability Services Priority signalled in funding boost

Minister of Health David Cunliffe today announced a $ 91.375 million funding package over five years to improve wages and conditions for disability support and increase accessibility to services.

"The services that support workers provide are a vital component of what government does to enhance the full participation of disabled people. We value this workforce, and are committed to building on the good work out there, to ensure a strong, sustainable and innovative sector that can deliver on the New Zealand Disability Strategy," Mr Cunliffe said.

Mr Cunliffe said the funding package of $86 million of confirmed funding and an additional $5 million which is currently being finalised.

He said the funding package would relieve some of the immediate pressures within the disability sector and was part of much wider commitment the government has made to the sector.

“We have developed a Labour-led comprehensive disability strategy, which we are implementing and will continue to prioritise following the election.”

"Great progress has been made, but there is more to do. This announcement addresses high priority needs and signals that disability issues will be a high priority for my attention as Minister of Health post election," said Mr Cunliffe.

Mr Cunliffe said current wages and conditions have been widely recognised as creating difficulty in recruiting and retaining skilled staff within the sector.

"Further training will ensure the workforce is better equipped to meet the needs and enhance the lives of disabled people and their families. Training will also improve the career pathways for those working in the disability sector with many expected to achieve higher levels of the National Certificate in Community Support Services.

Respite care has also been prioritised with a $1.5m for funding boost for this year, growing to $3m for subsequent years.

“This increase in funding will mean an additional 120 families this year will be able to gain five days of respite care a month. Next year the service will be available to 240 families as the additional funding comes available,"

"Respite care is an important service provided to families and caregivers which allows those families to take time out for themselves and the extra funding will provide greater access throughout the whole country.

ENDS


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