Good News for the Disability Community
Yesterday’s budget has delivered two specific packages of funding for people with disabilities, And you can watch the Finance Minister Hon Bill English read the speech here with the sign language interpreter http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/37076
Disabled students with high needs will receive more support to transition from school to adult life..
An additional $16.3 million over the next four years for participation and inclusion services for students with disabilities leaving school and entering the Very High Needs Scheme.
Students with high needs receive support from the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme while they are at school.
This boost in funding to the Very High Needs scheme ensures these young people continue to receive wraparound support as they transition from school to adult life. The extra support will make a difference to the quality of life for around 300 young people facing significant challenges.
I really value this programme so am delighted to see this extra support. I believe it’s value to these young people and their families is immeasurable.
Assisting children with special education needs
The Government is investing an extra $62.9 million of operating funding over the next four years to better assist children with special education needs to learn and achieve, Education Minister Hekia Parata says.
“We believe every child and young person in New Zealand should have the best possible education,” she says. “In the case of students with special needs, a strong education increases the chance of them becoming more independent and better able to participate in and contribute to the community.”
Budget 2015 allocates $39.5 million to provide Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) support for about 500 extra students. This means that around 9,000 children with the highest special education needs will be supported by the scheme.
The Budget also includes new spending of $23.3 million for extra in-class teacher’s aide support for 1,500 students from Years 1-13, which began in February this year.
These are students who have special education needs such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, but who do not qualify for ORS support.
“This is the first phase of our commitment to provide extra teacher’s aide support for an extra 4,000 students,” Ms Parata says. “Eventually, we aim to provide an additional 800,000 teacher’s aide hours a year.”
Ms Parata says spending on special education has increased significantly in recent years - up 26 per cent from 2008 to around $530 million in 2013/14.
The Ministry of Education is updating special education, by engaging with schools, parents and education and disability sector partners to look at better streamlining of support and easier access to services. I look forward to this work.
Increased Benefit & Working for Families payments
Many families in the sector will also benefit from Budget’s $790 million package to reduce hardship among children in New Zealand families. This budget was designed to give New Zealand’s poorest families a hand up and that has to be a good thing.
Extra Services for the Deaf community & others
It was great to see last week that NZ on Air has agreed to allocate a further $400,000 for increased TV caption and audio services. In the 2014-15 financial year, $2.4 million from NZ On Air funded 256 captioned hours and 31 hours of audio description per week. Which meant 100 per cent of primetime content on TVNZ channels is now captioned. This new funding brings the total to nearly $3 million and shows NZ On Air’s real commitment to better accessibility for those who need it.
The increase in captioning and audio-description will mean more hearing and sight-impaired people can access and enjoy programmes other people take for granted. And also helps older people who are hard of hearing and those with English as a second language.
Thank you to the NZSL Sign Interpreters
Sign interpreters have been busy all week in Parliament. For the first time there have been interpreters at the Budget Debate and they have done a brilliant job under noisy and difficult conditions. Even accurately reporting some of the interjections and that’s no mean feat.
I would also like to thank the Speaker Rt Hon David Carter who was so supportive when I suggested this, and who also organised Parliamentary Tours during NZSL week with interpreters. I will ask him again next year and keep the date in mind if you would like a tour of parliament.
As the new Minister of Disabilities I keep meeting new and interesting people in the sector. There are a lot of bright ideas, plenty of research underway and a real sense of opportunity of change for the better.
Everyone is very focussed and working hard so I am confident that we are making progress. My particular interests are in increasing accessibility and supporting people into work and I look forward to working with you all in the coming months.
Hon Nicky Wagner National MP and Member of Parliament for Christchurch Central;
Minister of Customs;
Minister of Disability Issues;
Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery;
Associate Minister of Conservation
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Authorised by Nicky Wagner MP 103 Salisbury Street, Christchurch.