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Disability advocate says Pacific families overprotecting people with disabilities

14 July 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

A Pacific disability advocate says Pacific caregivers have a tendency to overprotect their disabled loved-ones.

President of the Disabled Persons Assembly, Pati Umaga, says there are attitudes towards people with disabilities that need to change. 

"They think our disabled people are sick and broken and should be kept at home," he says. 

Umaga says overprotection out of love, is doing more harm than good. 

"The more we isolate our people away from participating and being independent and involved in activities, the more health issues that come with it," he says. "Especially with social isolation, the cost of those health issues start to increase."

Disabled Persons Assembly President, Pati Umaga. Photo/ Supplied. 

The Disabled Persons Assembly held a general election forum last night in Wellington, to discuss key disability election issues.

People with disabilities were invited to share their stories and address MPs from different political parties about housing, accessibility, education, employment and income support.

While these issues are a concern, Umaga says Pacific people with disabilities are not accessing the available services that they're eligible for.

"A lot of our people have little time for bureaucracy and the kind of assessments that they have to go through just to get the support they need," he says. "It's quite complicated at times."

"We have an attitude of, 'We'll just get on with it ourselves,' but it does start to affect our families further down the line."

Umaga is calling on Pacific community leaders to step up and influence the people and policies made from government level. 

In the 2013 census, 1.1 million people were identified as disabled or 24 percent of the population. In those findings, Māori and Pacific people's disability rates were higher than average. 

Tags: Disabled Persons Assembly, Pati Umaga,