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Mana Whaikaha update February 1

cartoon of woman in wheelchair speaking with a man.

One of the over-riding principles of Enabling Good Lives is that disabled people and whānau would have greater self-determination or choice and control over their lives and the services they receive.

While we are certainly finding that this principle is proving challenging to achieve for a number of reasons it is in the incremental changes that I am finding myself quite overwhelmed by the opportunities that sit within the prototype that would never have existed before and that are now slowly being taken up by people and families.

A couple of examples of this occurred this week. We have had one young man and his family who made a decision that they wanted to work with an independent Connector from their local community. They have worked with this person to build a comprehensive plan around the life aspirations that this young man has. Aspirations that are no different from any young person of his age: a great desire to find a job and get some money, support to enable him to increase his independence from his family, the ability to maintain his connections to family and friends. They then brought their proposal to the funding team so that they could themselves talk through their aspirations and to present why they believed the funding they were seeking would lead to reduced support and a better quality of life over the long term. With their funding proposal discussed, modified and approved this young man then elected to work from a personal budget so that he had control over who gets employed, to do what. 

I was reflecting on how remarkable this was, something that could never have happened under the previous system. None of us has an unlimited choice nor unlimited control but to see this young man and his Mum have the courage to test the system and have their voice the one that was heard was so heartening to me. This was a clear demonstration of the principles of Mana Enhancing and Self-determination in action. I am hoping this is just the beginning of people and their families beginning to see what Enabling Good Lives has to offer. That it is not all about more money, more services – although in some situations this will be required – it is about having say over how the system engages with you, supporting and encouraging to have your own voice heard.