'It will help us stay afloat': $800m funding increase welcomed

6:05 pm on 14 May 2020

Disability advocates are "really heartened" by a $832.5 million funding boost for disability support services in the 2020 Budget.

Simon Thurston, 26,(RIGHT) and his father, Lyall Thurston, pictured in Rotorua. Simon has a disability related to a neural tube defect. 
23 July 2009 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Alan Gibson.

Lyall Thurston, left, with son Simon Thurston in 2009. Simon Thurston has a disability related to a neural tube defect. [File pic] Photo: New Zealand Herald

CCS Disability Action Midland region general manager Colene Herbert said it was "long overdue" funding that her group had lobbied hard for.

"The sector's been parched and it feels like we've got some rain."

CCS Disability Action helps about 85 to 100 people living with disabilities in Rotorua, including assisting with supported living, finding meaningful and paid work, advocacy and accessibility lobbying.

Herbert said the funding boost would "mean a lot" for the people her group supported, and it meant they could provide more than "just the basics".

The group had been looking at restructuring, including redundancies, as it looked to "trim fat that's not even there".

"It will help us stay afloat."

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Lakes DHB member Lyall Thurston said one part of the Budget that "really excited" him was the boosted support for disability services.

He had been an advocate for people living with disabilities for some time and said the package for Disability Support Services (DSS) was "great news for people living with a disability" and was "commendable".

It was "long-waited for" however.

"I think most disabled people would say they are invariably at the end of every queue."

Thurston said Covid-19 had proved a catalyst for a lot of the initiatives in the 2020 Budget.

"It's an extraordinary Budget in extraordinary times."

Whānau Ora commissioning agency chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait.

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait Photo: Supplied

The funding boost to disability services would be $104 million in the 2019/2020 financial year, with the $182.2m spread over the following four years.

Lakes DHB member Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said the significant increase in vote health was "absolutely necessary".

"Some services and how they are delivered must change. It is primary health, well-resourced, that will make the quantum leap forward particularly in reaching families as early as possible, with information on how to keep themselves healthy and out of the health system altogether.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has presented New Zealand with an unprecedented health, social and economic challenge."

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