Living and participating in your community

There is a wide range of help potentially available out there to help you live well and participate in your community, but not all of it is easy to access. Ask for help to get started or if you get stuck. The guides, organisations and other information sources in Living with your condition will help you get started, e.g. ask your local disability information centre what is available in your area.

Ministry of Health Equipment and Modification Services

  • Some assistance is free and some is subsidised for people who are eligible for Health assistance e.g. housing and vehicle modifications, hearing aid assistance, the children’s spectacle subsidy and equipment such as a wheelchairs or toilet chairs. Assessment by a health professional such as an occupational therapist is usually required. In some cases complex criteria may apply.
  • The Ministry of Health contracts two agencies to administer most of these programmes around New Zealand:

Getting around

  • Lottery Grants Board Individuals with Disabilities grant provides funding for individuals with mobility and communication impairment-related disabilities. They will, for example, consider a grant for a vehicle or a mobility scooter. They will usually only consider application if applications to other government sources have been declined.
  • Total Mobility provides subsidised taxi services (via 50% vouchers or electronic cards) if you meet criteria such as not being able to use local buses. In some areas, the scheme can be used for related disability transport schemes e.g. Driving Miss Daisy’s door-to-door service.
  • Mobility Parking CCS Disability Action administers a scheme providing local parking concessions. Concessions vary around NZ.
  • SuperGold Card for  seniors (over 65s) and veterans. Provides free off-peak public transport services in many areas in New Zealand.
  • Many buses and other forms of public transport are now accessible, e.g. easier to use for a a person who uses a wheelchair or walks with difficulty. Some councils give bus concessions to some groups on the Supported Living Payment.
  • National Travel Assistance (NTA): If you, or a family member, need to travel long distances – or frequently – to see a government-funded specialist or access MOH funded disability support services, you may be eligible for help with expenses under this scheme. Expenses may include travel, accommodation and support person costs. NTA will not apply if people can get the same transport help from other sources, e.g. ACC or Ministry of Education.

Education

  • The Ministry of Education’s Special Education services provides a wide range of educational support from early intervention through to leaving secondary school for children and young people with disabilities and other conditions. This website explains the system and process for accessing the service e.g. How Special Education Works, Individual Education Plans, and different parts of the scheme e.g. the On-Going Resourcing Scheme (for which the maximum leaving age is 21) and Assistive technology.
  • The Ministry of Education website has contacts lists for all their district offices. Each district has a number of special advisors, including a district transition advisor who can provide support and help in the transition process.
  • Tertiary assistance is mainly offered through individual tertiary institutions and facilities. See for example the information and support page for the University of Otago. Some scholarships are available to tertiary students with disabilities. See for example those offered by the University of Otago.

Employment

There is a quite lot of help available, much of it funded by the Ministry of Social Development

  • Workbridge places and provides employment support to people with disabilities, injury and illness. It administers Support Funds, a government fund providing a range of supports to disabled people in training or employment and to employers.
  • Supported employment – there are now supported employment providers in most main areas. See providers by region or by organisation.
  • Mainstream Employment Programme provides subsidies, training, and other support to help people with significant disabilities get work with government and private employers, and stay in employment

Finding a place to live

Access and cost, as well as the need for support, can be barriers for some people with disabilities and health conditions and their families

  • Housing NZ manages state houses and tenancies and provides affordable houses for those in greatest need, for as long as they are in need. Some local authorities continue to provide social housing.
  • Accessible Properties provides good quality affordable homes to people with disabilities and some health conditions and those on low incomes. It began as part of IHC but now works with wider groups and has its own board.
  • Other Trusts – there are many local housing trusts which provide accessible and suitable accommodation for people with disabilities and in some cases their families e.g. the Whangarei Accessible Housing Trust.
  • Supported living for MOH client groups.
  • Choice in Community Living - not fully rolled out around NZ for MOH client groups as of mid-2015.

Sports and having fun

There are lots of opportunities. Check out your local disability information centre for what’s available in your community. Not everything is for the fit or those who would like to be fit. Many clubs are willing to go the extra mile to be inclusive.

  • Special Olympics provides sport and social opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities or learning disabilities.
  • The Halberg Disability Sports Foundation provides grants to enable young disabled people to participate in inclusive sport and active leisure within their communities.
James