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Creating better lives

The two Directors of the Mana Whaikaha teams are passionate about working together with disabled people and whānau to create better lives.

They are excited about the possibilities of the new disability support system in MidCentral.

Marshall Te Tau and Lorna Sullivan“What I’m looking forward to doing most is to really enabling disabled people and their families and whānau to have a strong vision for what a good life looks like,” says Lorna Sullivan, the Director of the Kaitūhono/Connectors team.

“I want people to be able to actively pursue that life in the full mainstream of society so people have authority, autonomy, and influence over their own life opportunities.”

Lorna has held significant leadership roles in the disability sector and was chair of the working group that developed the Enabling Good Lives vision and principles, on which Mana Whaikaha is based.

“The new system changes the existing approach with its focus being on everything that disabled people can’t do and will never be, and can never aspire to, to everything that the person is, what their hopes and aspirations are for their lives, what their gifts, talents, and passions are, so we focus very differently on who the person is,” she says.

“When people have an understanding of what it is they’re wanting to achieve in their lives, our role is to help them to access the resources; from community, from family, and from government that will enable them to do that.”

Allies for disabled people and whānau

The Connectors, who are allies for disabled people and whānau, are excited about the changes.

“The Connectors are very energised by this idea that, in fact, they may now be able to use their abilities to enhance the lives of people rather than keeping people trapped within a system that doesn’t work for them,” says Lorna.

They have high levels of energy and excitement, along with a little anxiety as to how the new system is really going to work for people.

“I think what gives them confidence is that we are taking a ‘try, learn and adjust approach’ to the new system and that we will get this right in relationship with disabled people, their families, and the community,” says Lorna.

Breaking down barriers

Supporting the Connectors is the Tari/System team and its Director Marshall Te Tau.

He says the team will break down barriers with the Government Liaison role working to make sure disabled people and whānau can access all the support they’re entitled to.

“When you talk to most families, historically, when they enter into a government agency, it’s all the things that need to be done to actually get anywhere, so all of the different forms that need to be filled in, the ‘not our problem, their problem’ attitude and going from pillar to post, from agency to agency,” explains Marshall.

“Trying to deal with the various government agencies becomes so overwhelming, the families tend to just close down and instead of things becoming better, they become worse.”

Behind the scenes, the Government Liaisons will be working to make that support much easier to access.

“The key thing for our team is the interface with government departments, breaking down some of those barriers for people,” says Marshall. “Having a coordinated approach to those agencies means that people are going to get the entitlements they should be getting upfront rather than later on.”

Change takes time

Other key roles in the Tari/System team include those of Disability Information which offer information and advice, and support for funding.

Marshall has been involved in the disability sector for many years and was a member of the MidCentral Regional Leadership group, leading many of the conversations about change.

“For me, it was personal initially - I’ve got disabled family members and I have a child with a disability in my care,” he says.

Both directors are expecting real change to take time.

“It will take time - big social change doesn’t occur overnight,” says Lorna.

“It’s not just about changing what happens with the support system. It’s about changing the expectations of disabled people themselves, the expectations of families, the role of community in the lives of disability, and the support system needs to fundamentally change its model and approaches to people if it’s to be successful going forward.”

To find out if you're eligible, you can check our eligibility information.

Find out if you're eligible

If you would like to think about changes to your support, contact Mana Whaikaha on 0800 626 255. You can also email us info@manawhaikaha.co.nz