Ac­ces­si­bil­ity is­sues need ad­dress­ing

Cambridge Edition - - FRONT PAGE - EMMA JAMES

A Waikato wheel­chair user is hope­ful more help will be of­fered to dis­abled peo­ple un­der the new coali­tion govern­ment.

A Cambridge man, who wanted to be known as Aaron Moore, said his liv­ing cost was 340 per cent more than his an­nual in­come, and he had tried for years to get ex­tra as­sis­tance.

‘‘Un­der cur­rent reg­u­la­tions, the max amount we get doesn’t even cover the rent, food, util­i­ties and med­i­cal bills,’’ he said.

His lat­est wheel­chair cush­ion cost $1500, the back­rest cov­ers were more than $200, and re­place­ment bear­ings were $350.

‘‘Some peo­ple don’t have the right hand mo­tions to use a nor­mal set of cut­lery, and one set con­sist­ing of a knife, fork and spoon cost me $120 plus GST,’’ he said.

He had re­ceipts to back up his pur­chases, and quotes from sev­eral dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies in at­tempts to get the price down.

Power bills were also higher than able-bod­ied peo­ple, as show­ers took longer and there was more wash­ing to do.

He also had to hire peo­ple for tasks peo­ple took for granted, such as clean­ing the win­dows, mow­ing the lawns, gar­den­ing and wash­ing his car.

‘‘Un­less there is a change in leg­is­la­tion and the wel­fare re­forms then noth­ing is go­ing to change,’’ said Moore.

‘‘The is­sues re­lat­ing to dis­abil­ity is by far New Zealand’s big­gest so­cial is­sue.

‘‘Al­though dis­abled peo­ple are sup­posed to have rights and the same ac­cess as non-dis­abled peo­ple, noth­ing is fur­ther from the truth.

‘‘The ac­cess is ap­palling, there is lit­tle sup­port for most of what we re­quire and for most even their ba­sic needs are not ad­e­quately ad­dressed or cov­ered.’’

He said even when he went to vote in this years gen­eral elec­tion, the ramp to the Cambridge Town Hall was ‘‘wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble with as­sis­tance’’.

‘‘If it’s not ac­ces­si­ble with­out as­sis­tance then it’s not ac­ces­si­ble.’’

Taupo MP Louise Up­ston, speak­ing be­fore the Labour-NZ First coali­tion an­nounce­ment, said there was sup­port avail­able for peo­ple with learn­ing, in­tel­lec­tual or phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, un­der in­cen­tives put in place by

Life in a wheel­chair

the for­mer Na­tional Govern­ment.

She said the Min­istry of Health funds Need As­sess­ment Ser­vices Co-or­di­na­tion ser­vices worked with dis­abled chil­dren and adults to iden­tify their needs and match them with ap­pro­pri­ate ser­vices.

Up­ston said it was agreed, the sys­tem did not work well for ev­ery­body and in Fe­bru­ary a wide trans­for­ma­tion of dis­abil­ity sup­port ser­vices was an­nounced.

‘‘Bud­get 2017 in­vested an ex­tra $205.4 mil­lion over four years to main­tain and im­prove dis­abil­ity sup­port ser­vices.’’

Up­ston said the sector was to re­ceive an ex­tra $52.3m in 2017/18, tak­ing its to­tal fund­ing to $1.2 bil­lion for the year.

The gen­eral costs for wheel­chair users are too high, and leg­is­la­tion needs to change in or­der to help them, says a Cambridge man.

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