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Issue 91, December 2005

Caregivers’ Payments Reviewed

The Office for Disability Issues is leading an interdepartmental review on payments to and support of family caregivers of disabled people.

A number of government programmes provide support for family caregiving of disabled people. However, people caring for disabled family members have generally been excluded from eligibility for contractual employment as their caregivers.

A decision by the Complaints Review Tribunal of the Human Rights Commission in August 2001 found this exclusion was potentially discriminatory under the Human Rights Act.

Other programmes of support have also been criticised as not providing sufficient help to family caregivers of disabled people.

The review will provide direction for resolving the issue of whether there are valid grounds for excluding people caring for disabled family members from contractual employment as their caregivers. It is also considering which types of support best help such family caregivers to meet related costs.

As a first step, the review has looked at government objectives for policies relating to family caregiving of disabled people. Till now, New Zealand has had no clear statements about what these policies should be trying to achieve, in March 2004 Government approved statements prepared by the Review Team.

Further options for help will he developed around these statements for consultation with the disability sector.

The statements were publicly released at the Caring for the Caregivers Summit, held in Wellington in March, in a paper presented by the Office.

The paper ‘Payments to and Support of Family Caregivers of Disabled People: the work of the Office for Disability Issues’ can be accessed at www.odi.govt.nz. There is also information on the background to the review and its development to date. Information will be updated as the review progresses.

Acknowledgement: Disability Issues NEWS, June 2005 Office for Disability issues, administered by the Ministry of Social Development

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