NHRI calls out rights violations against New Zealanders with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Thousands of people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) are denied access to the right diagnosis and support, say the New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s Disability Rights Commissioner and Children’s Commissioner.
Paula Tesoriero and Judge Andrew Becroft were commenting on the release of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – A Call to Action which calls for changes to the way people with FASD are assessed for some supports. The commissioners say the human rights of some people with FASD are being denied because of arbitrary measures for criteria.
Currently people with an FASD diagnosis alone can’t access Disability Support Services (DSS) despite meeting the definition of disability. This exclusion seems arbitrary and there appears no logical basis to limiting access to DSS to those with an intellectual impairment only.
FASD is a lifelong and complex condition that requires extensive support, but is not currently recognised as a disability in New Zealand. The commissioners say that the cost of the government’s failure to support children with FASD incurs a massive cost not only to families, but to New Zealand’s health, education, social welfare and criminal justice systems.
The report asks Cabinet to amend the current eligibility criteria so that those with a diagnosis of FASD (regardless of the presence of an intellectual disability) can access DSS if necessary.