My name is Cliff Robinson and I live in Ruamahanga Valley. And I am the full time carer for Marita and Jonny. I've done that for nearly fifty years.
When the Funded Family Care legislation came in, you couldn't get more than forty hours a week. But you could in special cases appeal that. I could've got an extra 19 hours of help.
I said [to the Ministry], where I live, it's difficult to get people up, Jonny doesn't respond very good to strangers. So I felt that it'd be better to pay me the 19 hours.
And the Ministry have got a review tribunal and they said, oh no, no no no. I was getting too many hours.So they reduced it from 40 hours to 29.5 hours.
I'd asked for an increase. [Laughter] In fact I'd got a decrease!
And that's when I decided to take the case to the Ombudsman. I'd just, you know, looked into it and filled in a form. So the Ombudsman took that up with the Ministry. And over a long period, convinced them that they should pay me. That I had a "reasonable expectation" once I was awarded hours, to expect those hours to continue.
But when it came to retrospective payment, they offered me $8,000 ex-gratia payment when I'd worked it out that I should've got $22,000 for [my caring].
So then there was another case and in the end the Ministry of Health agreed to pay me $14,000 as an ex-gratia payment. Which wasn't quite the $22,000 that I'd lost, but then it was tax-free.
The Office of the Ombudsman might sound something that's, you know, "out there" somewhere but it's not. It's decent, honest Kiwis who are trying to help, you know, fellow Kiwis that have had a rough time from the bureaucracy.
I'd thoroughly recommend anybody use the Office, it's there. It's there for us and it's one of the pillars of our democracy.