More advocacy at the coalface needed

Findings of a recent study by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and associates show that more advocacy is needed at the coalface for those in financial need, especially for families with children who have disabilities and chronic illness.

Barriers to support: Uptake of the Child Disability Allowance in Otara is a new report being released on Monday November 21 by CPAG, and is co-authored by CPAG’s co-convenor Alan Johnson and researcher Jessica Suri of Otara Health. It is now available to download from the CPAG website.

Barriers to support reports findings from a survey of more than 1000 households in the south Auckland suburb of Otara, and was undertaken by a partnership of CPAG, Disability Connect and Otara Health Charitable Trust. The survey looked at the extent of children with disabilities or chronic illness in Otara households and whether or not these households were gaining access to their Child Disability Allowance (CDA) entitlements.

Findings included that only a small proportion of households who were possibly eligible for the CDA were receiving it, and that most people did not know about the CDA or found the process of applying for it too difficult to negotiate. Others may have had their applications declined and were put off from reapplying. The difficulties encountered including being able to understand  the application procedure itself, unpleasant interactions with Work and Income staff and difficulties in getting supporting documents for their application.

Many respondents reported that their children had chronic illnesses such as eczema or asthma which placed considerable stress on finances and their ability to earn a living. The findings may be indicative that physical and intellectual disabilities were not readily disclosed to the researchers, perhaps because they may be seen as shameful in some cultures. This could present further barriers to gaining necessary supports.

In light of these exploratory findings, CPAG has set out recommendations to improve accessibility to the CDA which include:

  • Increase promotion of the CDA to families and doctors, especially the eligibility criteria - by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Ministry of Health (MoH).
  • Simplify the application procedure for CDA.
  • Better funding for culturally appropriate advocacy services by MoH and District Health Boards.

The report also includes an overview from the MSD for the levels of access to the CDA offered to families across Auckland and New Zealand.

An additional aim of this project was to assist Otara families with disabled children who are not receiving their CDA entitlements to gain these payments.

The report launch will take place at 11:30 am on Monday morning at the Otara Music Arts Centre, Corner Newbury Street and Bairds Road, Otara Town Centre.