Our first E-news for 2017
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ImagineBetter E-Newsletter April 2017

Last month, the Government announced the next steps in the roll-out of a transformed disability support system. Associate Health and Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner says the change is about making sure people with disability, and their family have greater control over their lives, as well as the support they receive from government. The transformation will be based on the Enabling Good life vision and principles. We are encouraged by the ongoing changes.

The roll-out of the transformed disability support system will begin in the mid-central area around Palmerston North. A co-design process is scheduled for between March and June 2017 where a panel of 12 representatives from across the disability sector (disabled people, family members, NASCs, MoH) will be selected to contribute to discussions about the design of the new system (calls for applications to be part of the design process have now closed). The time frame for system changes will be determined during the initial co-design process. It is believed that some benefits will become apparent immediately, but that it will likely take several years for the true impact of the transformation to take effect. The full details about the transformation, along with FAQs can be found on the ODI website.

Throughout the implementation of system change, ImagineBetter will continue to help keep you informed with current developments. For those of you going through system transformation, please contact us with your experiences. The greater population of New Zealand will be keen to hear about and learn from you experiences.

For those of you sitting outside the regions where system transformation is currently taking place, please get in touch with your local Disability Information and Advisory Services so that you stay well-informed about the best options available to you. For those families living in Auckland, ImagineBetters offers Partners as a way of supporting people in the best use of their Individualised Funding. The team at ImagineBetter are committed to supporting people to live well and dream big within a changing disability support sector.

From the ImagineBetter team

ImagineBetter Assembly
Earlier this year, ImagineBetter with the support of CCS Disability Action and Te Pou o Te Whakaaro Nui, held its annual Assembly at the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland. The theme was ‘Will You Friend Me? Social Capital and the Value of Relationships’, and it was attended by around 100 participants over two days. Two leading community engagement experts, Dr Al Condeluci and Janet Klees, spoke generously and with spirit about their experiences of helping people with disability create social connections in the community.

Despite the unpleasant Auckland weather, the mood amongst attendees was high and the ANZ Viaduct Event centre was abuzz with chatter, reunions, and introductions. It was great to see people using the Assembly to actively build their own social networks!

On day one, Dr Al Condeluci started the conversation by talking about some of the theory and research on friendships, and how helping people to build a broad and diverse social network can lead to more inclusive communities. He showed how relationships can be a powerful tool for helping to positively reframe the perception and experience of disability at a broader societal level.

Al’s conversations about some of the theory on friendships provided a strong platform for day two, where Janet Klees provided practical steps and strategies for building relationships. It was inspiring to hear people’s stories about friendship, and the varied ways people build connections with others in the ordinary spaces of the community. Janet spoke about the importance of valued roles, and how they emphasise similarities and shared interests between people.

The ImagineBetter team came away from the Assembly enthusiastic about how we can incorporate some of this material into the work we do with and alongside people with disability and their whānau. We’re looking at doing some follow-up research the area – so stay tuned to hear more!

ImagineBetter's new Facebook page

We have a new Facebook page, so head over to Facebook and check it out! 

In addition to the website and E-newsletter, our Facebook page is a platform for sharing information, resources and inspirational stories about people living well and dreaming big. Facebook is an easy way for us to stay connected, so feel free to message us if you have any questions or suggestions about what you would like to see on the page.

To keep up-to-date with what’s happening on the Imaginebetter Facebook page, make sure you ‘like’ us!

The Goodlife Kete
We are excited to announce the development of a new resourcing section on the IB website, titled ‘The Goodlife Kete’.

The ‘Goodlife Kete’ is a knowledge basket of information, practical tools, and inspirational stories to help people with disability, their whānau, and wider support networks work towards a good and ordinary life. The kete is informed by research from around the world and is written in a way that is engaging and suitable for a range of audiences. It is a living document and over time, through knowledge sharing and building, will continue to grow and develop. So watch this space!

The Kete is broken up into sections based on themes connected to the good life. It can be read as an entire document or you may select the sections relevant to your situation. Some of the themes covered are:

  • Socially valued roles;
  • Person-directed planning;
  • Self-determination and choice;
  • Friendships between people with and without disabilities, and among people with disabilities ;
  • The natural authority of family.

We hope the Goodlife Kete helps you and your whānau create ordinary life opportunities that lead to fulfilling, unique, socially inclusive and empowered communities.

Visit our website to check it out.

TIIDL Leadership Knowledge Exchange and Conference - Reflections from Sue Robertson, Manager for the Family Strategy and Senior Partners Advisor
The 2017 International Initiative for Disability Leadership (IIDL) Leadership Knowledge Exchange and Conference was held in Sydney 27 Feb – 3 March. Two members from ImagineBetter - Sue Robertson and Tony Blackett – were in attendance. The theme of the IIDL Leadership Exchange was “Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities”.
The IIDL is an initiative that aims to help disabled persons, families, policy-makers, funders and providers from across the world work together towards finding innovative ways to help disabled people live meaningful and socially valued lives. At the heart of the initiative, is a drive to build sustainable leadership and capacity within the wider sector. Knowledge sharing through a range of mechanisms, like resources, demonstration, and mentoring, is used to help grow emerging leaders.
The IIDL Leadership Exchange is an opportunity for building international collaborative networks and sharing knowledge with colleagues. From around the globe, leaders are ‘matched’ with an organisation, and spend two days engaging and learning from colleagues. Following the match, leaders attend a two day meeting for key presentations and discussions around the theme of the exchange. The leadership exchange is designed to encourage conversations and develop new thinking, so that leaders can apply this knowledge to their own organisation.
Below, is Sue’s reflection on her match, as part of a group of family leaders, with Community Resource Unit (CRU).
“CRU was established to support grassroots change in Queensland, Australia and has state-wide, national and international responsibilities. Social Role Valorisation (SRV) principles are foundational to their work.  CRU are not an advocacy service and they are not involved in direct service provision.   They are funded to provide information. Following the last IIDL Conference and Exchange, CRU formed an alliance of five agencies in Australia and they are currently working towards securing funding that will enable them all to respond to the needs of disabled people and their families.
You may know CRU from their publications including CRUcial Times and they also hold a collection of resources and publications for sale. The range of workshops they offer provides opportunities to identify, nurture and grow leaders. Their work is familiar to us at ImagineBetter and what CRU offers continues to inspire my own personal and professional practice. 
We talked about the need for system change and how to bring leaders together so that there’s a collaborative effort for change.  We reflected upon some of the challenges that hinder our progress and we explored what it is that we most urgently need to do in our current context. This prompted a discussion about how to move from the ‘why’ we need unified system transformation and leadership, to ‘how’ we go about getting it. We agreed:
  • Change needs to happen. We need leaders for change. Leaders can be grown.
  • Families/whānau include parents, siblings and disabled family members, and key people in a person’s closest personal network.  The natural authority of families means families set the direction and lead the change. It’s important that families aren’t side-lined in the conversation about service transformation. Leadership is about ‘leading the change at our place.’
  • Inclusion is about people with disability feeling socially and economically embedded in the fabric of community. This will look and feel different for each person, but may include having the right to vote, marry and start a family, have a mortgage and own a house, work and contribute to superannuation schemes. 
On day two of the knowledge exchange a small group of family leaders met with June. We sat outside her house under a tree, ate fresh pineapple and mango, and heard how she would like to chop the tree down as she’s offended by the leaves it drops in her backyard. 

June is 70.  Her name is on the ownership papers for her new car.  She’s learning to read.  June spent the first 50 years of her life living with nuns, surviving in institutions and boarding houses, and working a lifetime for minimal pay in a laundry. Her stories are not for easy listening.
One of the things I took away from June’s story is a deep appreciation of the length of time it can take to support someone to connect and grow deep and long lasting relationships in community. For June, it took 20 years.  

While we were at the IIDL Leadership Exchange, the New Zealand government announced new policy that supports ‘Transformational Change.’  I hope and trust that whatever evaluateon measures we’re expected to fit within, take into account short, medium and long term outcomes. And as part of this, there would need to be an acknowledgement of the length of time it might potentially take to support someone, who may have previously been denied ordinary life opportunities, to enjoy full citizenship with all the joys and responsibilities this status brings.

A small group of family leaders from Canada, Ireland and New Zealand are progressing the conversation on-line. We’ll be starting with a literature search for family leadership and from key issues that emerge, we will be seeking funding for research that progresses an international strategy. We will be bringing this information for discussion to the next IIDL Exchange.

If you have comments or questions you would like considered and which may inform the direction of this research, please contact Carey-Ann Morrison on Carey is the Research Advisor for ImagineBetter.

Image: Sue and June 2017
Copyright © 2017 Imagine Better, All rights reserved.

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