Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Office of the Ombudsman
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier says it is unreasonable that there is no mechanism to reassess funding for community participation programmes for disabled people throughout their life once they have left school.
However, he has commended the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) for its response to a complaint about the assessment and its willingness to find a solution.
In a case note published today, Mr Boshier detailed a complaint by the parent of a disabled man whose high needs classification was made under the Ministry of Education’s Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) while he was at school in 1999.
MSD uses the ORS assessment to determine funding for disabled people for community participation services from the time they leave school until age 65.
The complainant believed his son’s ORS assessment at school was incorrect and he should have been classified as very high needs, resulting in higher funding for community participation programmes. The complainant also believed his son’s needs had increased and the bulk-funded programme was not suitable for him.
MSD advised the Ombudsman that there was no specific legislation or regulatory framework for its community participation services funding. While the Education and Training Act allowed ORS classifications to be appealed and reviewed, this could be done only while the disabled person was enrolled at school.
Mr Boshier formed the opinion that it was unreasonable for MSD to use ORS assessments to determine funding for community participation services for disabled people. He considered the ministry was obliged to provide ways for people to challenge the accuracy of the ORS assessment later on.
He noted that Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said disabled people had a right to live in the community, with the same choices as others and that state parties should take measures to ensure that “community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs”.
“It is important that disabled people have access to community participation services funding that matches their current needs. It is difficult to see how, in this case, using an assessment carried out more than 20 years ago for education purposes, and when their needs have changed, is responsive to their current needs,” Mr Boshier said.
MSD undertook to apologise, provide a flexible payment and engage with the complainant to explore other existing assessment options.
The ministry also said it would review its vocational support, including community participation services, and develop advice for ministers to consider.
“I commend MSD for its response to my investigation and its willingness to work towards a positive outcome,” Mr Boshier said.